The Unconventional CEO – Mario Pretorius

Business management specialist and strategist Mario Pretorius, CEO of JSE-listed TeleMasters Holdings Ltd since 2007, has packaged his knowledge, experience and advice into a new book titled “The Unconventional CEO: Common sense outside of conventional Management thinking”. It features close to 100 pieces of easy-to-read wisdom on corporate leadership – based on Mario’s long academic pedigree (including B.Comm; MBA) and extensive management experience…topped by three JSE listings. Biznews will feature the book – which is still in manuscript form – as a daily tip to corporate management. Before we begin, here is Mario’s prelude to the process. – GK

Mario PretoriusDear CEO

It is more effective to have ‘A Way to Do Things’ than to have ‘A Goal’.

Asked what his goal was to win, world-famous golfer Nick Price said: “Goal? To play perfect golf. If I do that, winning will follow.”

Goals are transient, changeable, and what is left to do after its achievement? The great Russian General Gregory Potemkin, having risen from a peasant’s son to the greatest power in Russia, lamented: “Everything I have ever wanted, I have. I am entirely happy” and then locked himself away alone. Potemkin suffered bitterly from having nothing left to want.

In striving for a ‘way’ to do things, the actions implemented become habit and permanent. The ‘goals’ reached come and go, as waypoints on your ascent.

Your personal philosophy will determine your business style. After all, you are you, and management is an extension of your thinking and skills. You are expected to be a “Philosopher King”, in the Platonic tradition. There are policies & procedures in place but this will be implemented in your style – what’s most important, what’s superfluous, what will please you. Take a bit of time to evaluate its effect on your Enterprise’s success.

You came to hold your position on the strengths of WHAT you achieved, HOW you achieved it as well as how you WILL get everybody on your side to achieve what is collectively expected from you. Good luck, the lifespan at the top is mercilessly short, often mercifully so.

While you are standing at the pinnacle, surveying the battlefield before you and reviewing your troops, here are some truisms that might clarify some of your own thoughts, provoke a new understanding or add an insight.

I jotted down what I learned from the School of Hard Knocks, from contemporaries and from other sages – and not from any writings on business or management. This should form a little addendum and even an antidote to the conventional and often fast-changing management whims being taught at the Business Schools, where I had my fair share of indoctrination and doubts of the wisdom so dispensed.

Maybe your goal too is to do perfect business. This has become my Way.

Please share your experiences, your wise insights and how-not-to’s. There is a world of neophytes out there wanting to know the reality and the workables as opposed to the ivory tower missives rained onto them by those with tenure. If you can, do; if you cannot do, teach.

Maybe we can share from experience and this can be learned much easier. Its worth a good try.

Mario Pretorius

Pretoria, 2014

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