Importance of ethical leadership highlighted at CFO Day 

PPC's Tryphosa Ramano and Deloitte Consulting Africa's Thiru Pillay urge their colleagues to exhibit discipline, honesty and integrity.

In a session about leadership and culture that took place at CFO Day, PPC CFO Tryphosa Ramano and Deloitte Consulting Africa CEO Thiru Pillay spoke about what they thought was the key to steering their organisations in the right way. Both of them agreed that it's about ethical leadership, which is something that Tryphosa said was a challenge for all CFOs across the globe. She talked about how she has navigated the transition in a difficult period for the company whereby she has served four CEOs in a space of four years. She also urged CFOs to get back to basics, which is what they all learned about at university - discipline, honesty and integrity.

Said Tryphosa:

“I’m still old school like that. A debit is a debit and a credit is a credit. You can’t have both sides on the same side of the ledger. In our country at the moment, we are experiencing the impact of state capture and all that happened because the people in charge of the money have been complicit."

“When things go wrong in an organisation, there is always a tendency to put a finger at the CFO because they are the ones in charge of the money, but if you have done your work properly, you need not worry about that," she added. "You are taking a big chance if you throw me under the bus. It will most likely be you that will there because what I do is supported by numbers.”

Thiru agreed, saying that leaders had a significant part to play in moulding the culture of the organisation, making reference to Deloitte’s recently launched Human Capital Trends report, which a highlights the importance of social capital. He explained how people wanted to work for organisations that have a resounding purpose and whose values are aligned with their own values because employees in such organisations would inevitably put more effort into their work. He said leaders needed to challenge themselves to set an example in the way they behave, not just in the way they make the big decisions, but at all levels of the organisation.

“Most of the people in this room are board members or members of the executive team and there is a little bit that everyone can do to improve their organisations,” Thiru said. “The way you deal with the small things in your organisation is an indicator of how your team will deal with the big issues. What is the way in which you are dealing with your customers and your colleagues? I strongly believe that companies fraught with corporate politics and dysfunctional behaviour will see that culture manifested in the ethical behaviour of the organisation itself."