Lessons entrepreneurs can learn from a corporate leader

Posted on August 10th, 2016

Lessons entrepreneurs can learn from a corporate leader

What startups have in energy, they often lack in experience, operational policies and work processes. This organisational structure is what big corporates have perfected and is often what enables them to run efficiently and profitably.

To find out about the corporate habits that entrepreneurs should consider to grow their businesses, SME South Africa spoke to Reggie Nxumalo from Philips South Africa.

Nxumalo heads up the global health systems, electronics and lighting company’s Southern African lighting operations and is a corporate leader who has over 22 years built up a wealth of experience within the tech sector having held many senior posts at leading companies including consumer director at Dell Computers, OEM director at Microsoft, and country manager of HP’s Imaging and Printing Division.

Nxumalo speaks to SME South Africa about the importance of having the right people, policies and processes in place and the key differences between corporate and entrepreneurial leaders.

Q: What are some of the leadership lessons you have learnt from running a large enterprise?
One of them is what kind of leadership styles comes through or are required at a particular point. Sometimes you need to be task orientated to get a job done, other times you need to be people orientated – maybe the job is done but relationships need to be mended or people are in a certain space or frame of mind at the time, so it depends on the context to apply the appropriate leadership model, know when to be tough and when to be easy.

Q: What were the biggest lessons you learnt from failure?
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from failure is never give up! In fact I draw my inspirations from babies, they learn first to sit and then crawl and eventually walk and run. Never at any moment do they decide they will just sit for the rest of their lives, they try and try again no matter how many times they fall. Failure is an opportunity to try again because you learn more during this time as you probe deeper into why you failed.

WATCH: “When you look behind you, is there someone following you?” – Reggie Nxumalo shares his thoughts on what leadership means to him and why it takes leaders who know what they want for a business to make it through the tough times

Q: How do you choose who to hire?
I match the candidate to task and the organization’s culture so that it’s a win – win for everyone,  you don’t want to put a round peg in a square whole , it won’t fit or won’t be a long lasting solution in terms of keeping the prospect happy and keeping employees long term within the organization.

Q: What’s your relationship with risk?
I always take calculated risks [and consider] mitigating factors. I do not take blind risks, I de-risk as much as I can and I try and avoid losses where I can. There are situations where you cannot, but good leadership forces you to consider potential risks and how you mitigate against them.

WATCH: Here’s why Reggie Nxumalo says thriving in business means embracing change and finding new ways of thinking to solve problems

Q: What kind of leader do you consider yourself to be?
I would say I am a consultative and  transparent leader. I believe in involving people in the process and I always lead by example. I am very clear in terms of what I want but I always listen to my team.

“Sometimes you need to be task orientated to get a job done, other times you need to be people orientated”

WATCH: The 3 characteristics Reggie Nxumalo says every good leader needs to succeed

Q: Take us through the process of making a big decision. Who do you talk to, what do you consider?
Generally when you have big decisions to make, first understand what your vision is, map out your outcome, and then create opportunities and potential outcomes or space to review what others may see, how will others see this particular outcome, what inputs they bring, but ultimately its about you owning the decision.

Always look at what is in the best interest of the company. In business, you want to then consult the different functional heads so that you can get a sense of the “blind spot” so that you can get a view from outside your thinking as well.

Q: How do you react when things go wrong?
It depends on what went wrong, but often I try to be introspective and look at the facts, to look at why things went wrong. Once you understand what went wrong and where they went wrong and you understand the underlying reasons, it makes it easier to react appropriately and to avoid venting. I prefer to get to the bottom of the facts first.

WATCH: Reggie Nxumalo on the similarities between a corporate leader and an entrepreneur IFrame