Be purposeful, says Standard Bank boss, Sola David-Borha

Sola David-Borha, African Regions boss at Standard Bank, shares her leadership advice

Good leaders have a vision, inspire others and set the example, says Sola David-Borha, head of African Regions at Standard Bank. "Their conduct has to be above board, always, and they need to hold themselves to the highest standards. A good leader is connected and not removed from what’s going on in the real world. To be a good leader, you need to talk to people you normally wouldn’t encounter in your daily life. This is how you make better decisions.”

The difference between a good leader and a great one is empathy, she says.

“Great leaders can understand how the other side is feeling or thinking. You can make better-quality decisions if you have a good understanding of what the other person might be feeling, and understand where they are coming from. Empathy is something you’ve got to develop. You’ve got to make an effort with it. It’s about controlling yourself and telling yourself that to make a better-quality decision, you need to have a different point of view.”

In 2016, the All Africa Business Leaders Awards named Sola Business Woman of the Year for the West Africa region. She went on to be named Business Woman of the Year for Africa, too. Despite this, she remains humble.

Sola's advice to young and ambitious finance professionals is to be committed. Hard work and conduct are also important, she says, as is sharing the company’s vision. “You’ve got to conduct yourself in a way that is above board, even if this is to your own cost. And you’ve got to align yourself strategically to the direction in which the organisation wants to go. This doesn’t mean you can’t think for yourself or challenge people or ideas, but fundamentally you’ve got to align yourself. I remember somebody once saying, you can’t belong to a club you don’t want to join.”