Contrary to the way it is often portrayed, the average organization or
company is far from being a cold, calculating machine. It is actually a
highly emotive place where interaction with people is a fundamental part
of its ability to perform satisfactorily.
The company, through its employers, expects employees, including new
graduates, to have the ability to cope adequately with this emotive
environment. The graduate is frequently unable to meet this expectation
because he/she has not been developed to do so. Technical knowledge is
his only asset. This deficiency manifests itself in leadership shortcomings,
both intrapersonal and interpersonal. Further analysis reveals a deficiency
in three elements of leadership – self-awareness, oral communication, and
an ability to work cooperatively in teams.
To address these three elements of leadership, Sasol Coal, a subsidiary
of the big petrochemical company in South Africa, sponsored a leadership
programme at the University of Pretoria for their final-year bursary
students in the faculty of Engineering. This programme, the Sasol
Engineering and Leadership Academy (SELA), consisted of a number of
interventions designed to address the three areas of self-awareness, oral
communication, and cooperative behaviour in teams. These interventions
varied from an intrapersonal nature to interpersonal aspects. Psychometric
assessments were followed by experiential modules dealing with the three
SELA was evaluated at the end of the year. The results showed a
positive shift in the main constructs of self-awareness, communications,
and cooperation. This was measured quantitatively and qualitatively.
Conclusions were drawn and recommendations for improving the
programme were proposed.