Nebula CEO shares recipe for high performance business leadership

One of the fundamentals of business leadership is serving the people you're leading, says Daniel Nel, CEO of Nebula.

Johannesburg, 29 Mar 2017
Read time 4min 10sec
Daniel Nel.
Daniel Nel.

If I asked a bunch of people to close their eyes and picture "leadership", everyone would have a different image in mind. Perhaps you're envisioning the coach of your favourite sports team, the president of a country or the head of a successful company.

When I think about leadership, I picture a chef, says Daniel Nel, CEO of Nebula.

For me, one of the fundamentals of business leadership is serving. Serving the people you're leading. And serving your customers. If you're making bad food, the people you're serving will notice. And your team will notice too. If you make delicious food, you'll inspire your team to do the same.

I really do believe that when you serve people, you'll always be blessed with success.

In my opinion, we have a lack of good leaders, globally. People are given leadership positions not because they're proficient leaders but because they're the next in line for the job. And who wouldn't say yes when offered the chance to earn more money?

But, we often underestimate how integral good business leadership is to success.

Good leaders make good businesses

There are various types of leaders. Some leaders use their position to force those working under them to do exactly what they say. This approach may work in some situations, but it'll fall flat in a high performance business.

High performance business leaders are results-driven and constantly work to nurture and develop future leaders, and the right leaders make a business win or lose.

A good leader starts out by improving him or herself first. If you know who you are and you're inspired by your job, then you can inspire others. This entails identifying where you're succeeding personally and where you could put in some extra work.

Acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses

Being a successful leader is about knowing your abilities and shortcomings. I believe that good leaders spend most of their time using their strengths to do their jobs better and the majority of the remainder of their time learning and developing these skills. With this approach, only a minimal amount of effort is focused on improving their weaknesses.

But, understanding your own strengths and weaknesses is only part of the process; you also need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the people on your team. When you understand people better, it's easier to develop them into real leaders.

Growing from within

Some businesses bring new leaders in from outside, but I think you should develop the skills and talent of people already working in the business.

Building people up from the inside is also a great way to keep everything in the kitchen running smoothly at all times. This is particularly true when you're looking to grow your business because this is when your daily operations need to be as stable as possible.

It all comes down to coaching, mentoring and giving employees practical examples of how good leaders operate. If you have a recipe, but if you've never actually baked a cake, you'll never know how good or bad it tastes.

When it comes to high performance leadership, here are my top tips:

Make time to get to know your people: Understand who they are, what their dreams and goals are. Have conversations with employees about their purpose and what they aspire to do.

Identify talent: Find something that interests each member of your team. This needn't be something work-related. If someone overcomes a challenge in their personal life, they'll be more motivated and confident in their jobs too. A well-balanced employee is a happy employee.

Make tough decisions: Sometimes, a person just doesn't fit. There's no point delaying the inevitable. It's better for a person who isn't the right match to move on to another opportunity, rather than hanging around and working towards something they don't believe in.

Talk about leadership: Part of your daily routine should be talking to your staff about business leadership. Find out how you can challenge them, what they'd like to improve, what lessons they've learned and want to share with others. These discussions inspire people to be better.

Leadership is a choice. It isn't a position. It's about wanting to participate in the creation of something great. But leadership is only really tested when times get tough. Will a chef ever truly realise what he's capable of if he never works in a kitchen and serves people their food? Probably not.


Nebula offers a unique set of next-generation telecoms expense and life cycle management solutions. Nebula gives your organisation enhanced capability to automate the management and optimisation of your fixed, wireless and mobile telecoms environment. This includes usage, expenses and performance. To find out more about Nebula, you can e-mail or fill in your details here.

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