Managers form a critical link in the value chain of any business, in service, sales or distribution. They increase competitiveness and drive teams and business units to meet business goals, says Elmarie Strydom, academic head of Undergraduate Programmes at Regenesys Business School.
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She says managers are the pivot around which both the planning and execution of business strategy revolves. "It follows that a business is only as good as its managers. Managers' scope of thinking and calibre of skills are undeniably dominant factors in the performance of any organisation and at all levels."
In today's workplace, higher education is playing an increasingly important role vis-à-vis experience when it comes to creating a successful career path, building sustainable business models and staying abreast of technological innovations.
Experience alone is no longer enough to drive efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace. Nowadays, managers must have an academic or tertiary qualification as this cultivates critical thinking and problem solving through the application of different theories to workplace related challenges.
The value of education cannot be overstated. No matter what environment or sector, well-educated managers are needed to create competent businesses that can compete locally and on an international level.
All too often unqualified managers are ineffective as all their skills are experience based. Their thinking is confined to what they have learned on the job. Therefore, their problem solving and critical thinking abilities are limited. What they know is based on what they have experienced and nothing else.
In terms of participation of black South Africans in management positions, there are some real challenges. For instance, black South Africans own less than a quarter of the shares on the JSE and 73% of top managers are white. Although some progress has been made, the battle ahead remains a real one that needs sustainable solutions.
The reality is that the previous education system provided different standards of education for black and white South Africans, and as a result we have managers that have years of experience but no proper formal qualification. They may hold positions for which they are practically competent but not formally qualified due to historical factors.
Impact on attitude
"We have found that once individuals are exposed to post-school education, they acknowledge the positive impact of a formal qualification and the impact it has on their attitude and approach to doing things. It is without a doubt that tertiary education is a critical component in the development of effective, forward thinking leaders who will drive efficiencies and organisations, create motivated teams, and who work effectively to contribute to organisational and GDP growth," Strydom says.
"Our institution's teaching philosophy is based on a holistic approach that focuses on the spiritual and emotional intelligence of an individual. By recognising that individuals have cognitive intelligence, as well as emotional and spiritual intelligence, we develop the qualities that help them to drive and lead teams. We impart knowledge and at the same time nurture individuals' ability to achieve their life's purpose to enable them to become effective managers who will influence teams, organisations, the nation and the world," concludes Strydom.