Published: The Herald – 11 May 2015

THERE are many challenges facing people wishing to start out in the business world, and often the instinctual thought is to break away from the crowd, having a support network, particularly having someone that has already been through the challenges of starting their own business, can be the difference between success and failure.

The role of mentorship Prominent businessman and founder of Black Like Me Herman Mashaba said people were often too scared to include someone in their plans.

“The person who played an important role in my success is Walter Dube, he was the businessman who provided me with the funding to start Black Like Me in 1985,” he said.

Mashaba said it was also important to remember that a mentor was not someone who would stand by your side all the time, but who could offer advice when needed while allowing the space to develop.

“It is important for you to know what you want to get out of your relationship with your mentor, it is about having someone you can call on when you have a need, rather than having someone who will do things for you,” he said.

Mashaba said not everyone would have mentors to guide them, but that it was always possible to look at character traits of other leaders for inspiration. Leadership by example Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State, Professor Jonathan Jansen said it was important for leaders to realise that their behaviour played a critical role in influencing the behaviour of others.

“I think the most important thing, especially in a country like ours, is the role of leadership in modelling, nothing speaks more powerfully than leaders who model in their behaviour, their choices, the language and aspirations, the kind of lifestyle they want to achieve,” he said.

“Everybody knows in our country, we do not have the powerful kinds of models of behaviour that we so desperately need. In the absence of that kind of leadership you see the chaos that we currently have.”

Jansen said he did not believe in a 10 step guide for leaders that anyone could follow, as each individual and each circumstance encountered would be unique.

Both Mashaba and Jansen will be guest speakers at the Nelson Mandela Bay Leadership Summit taking place on June 10.

For bookings and registration contact Charmaine Smith at Studio 55 on csmith@studio55events. co.za or (041) 365-7591.