First woman president of Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Zingiswa Losi, recently joined her colleagues in a Rhodes Business School short course on project management.
“When I heard Cosatu staff were learning project management through Rhodes Business School in Grahamstown, I thought to myself, ‘It’s important as a leader that I join them on this course’,” she said.
Project management appealed to her because she believes it is important for her contribution to Cosatu. “We don’t operate as an island. We are influenced by everything that happens in our country. And I always want to encourage leaders of trade unions not to shy away from doing such courses. You need to understand the people you are dealing with. If you are going to negotiate on behalf of workers, then you need to understand how business works,” she stressed.
She warns fellow leaders not to become complacent in what they think they know. “We sometimes assume that we know things, just because we got elected. But leaders that are open to the idea of learning give their organisation a better chance of surviving the storms as well as improving it.”
Losi was elected as Cosatu’s first woman president last month. “It is a humbling experience to be elected, because I know people look to me as a great leader. It also sends the message that the work done by our forbearers is now bearing results. It is up to us now to define the journey and struggles that women are confronted with and decide how we are going to pave the way for the next generation. We must ask ourselves, ‘What legacy will we leave as women of today?’”
Losi believes self-mastery and well-developed emotional intelligence are the cornerstones of what makes a leader great. “Once you grasp these two aspects, it doesn’t matter the situation you face, you will be able to handle it,” she affirmed.
And education, she reiterates, remains just as important. “You may be well-educated already, but there are always areas you have not yet ventured into – that you may believe are unimportant. But remember, when you are a leader, everything is important.”