CFO Grathel Motau explains the speed of trust

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CFO Grathel Motau explains the speed of trust

Dec 29, 2023 | Strategy & Leadership

Thebe Investment Corporation Group CFO Grathel Motau’s advice to young professionals is to nurture relationships. She believes her career has progressed largely as a result of the key bonds she has developed and maintained with people in all the companies she has worked for.

‘I also recommend asking for help,’ Grathel continues. ‘People are always ready to offer counsel, you just need to ask. In addition, try and be curious all the time and have a mind that is open to learning new things. This includes things outside of finance; as I mentioned, one of the things I am proudest of is sharing the stage on TV with top economists. Finally, be true to yourself.’

Rounded view

When faced with challenges, Grathel says you should see them for what they are. Often you interpret a situation differently from what it really is. Therefore, one should keep in mind that your truth is not always everyone else’s truth, and one should try to understand things from their perspective if you want a rounded view on matters. What you may have thought is a crisis, might even turn out not to be one and if it indeed is, there is always a solution.

She also points out that it doesn’t help to panic. Instead, one should seek guidance from the competent people you have surrounded yourself with – put your heads together and find a way to overcome the problem. Furthermore, it is important to identify people who can be your trusted mentors to call upon when you are struggling with something. At a management level, having an executive coach helps one to get clarity over one’s goals, maximise their strengths and develop appropriate responses to situations.

From time to time, the work environment will present situations that will be testing, and one needs to learn how to navigate conflict with clients and colleagues. Grathel recalls a time at KPMG when a senior partner who really supported her felt the need to take over a meeting with a cantankerous client.

‘It was a humiliating experience because I felt like he did not believe I could handle the situation on my own,’ Grathel recalls. ‘I went to the bathroom and had a good cry. Then I asked the senior partner for a meeting to discuss what had happened.  I made it clear that, whereas I appreciated his support, he didn’t need to act as a protector because I am more than capable of standing on my own.’

Remaining steadfast

Grathel was glad she had the discussion with her colleague who did not realise that the way he was acting was disempowering her. The lesson from that experience was that one should be steadfast in what one believes in and should not shy away from having difficult conversations with colleagues. Raising issues tactfully may be difficult, but in the long run it will earn you the respect of your co-workers.

A management lesson Grathel loves to share is the need to be understanding of other people. Empathy is very important but at the same time a leader needs to push people beyond what they believe they can do. She has found that many people, especially women, often do not believe that they are good enough. They often think of themselves in a negative way and need someone to nudge them to realise their potential.

According to Grathel a good manager earns people’s trust in the direction s/he wants to lead them in, shows them what the possibilities for success are and leads by example. She also believes you should show your fellow staff members when you are vulnerable and tell them when you do not have all the answers. ‘Moreover, you need to show people that you are listening to them. What doesn’t make sense to you, may make sense to them and by listening to their input, you might uncover a silver bullet that benefits the team.’

The Speed of Trust

Grathel’s teenage desire to drive a BMW may have led her into a career in accounting, but she has since shifted her automotive preference to Toyota. And speaking of cars, her favourite read is The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma, which she likes for reminding readers to think about the legacy they will leave behind. ‘Material things like the fancy cars we drive do not matter. It is about our being and our experience of the world. We are here to make our experience appreciable for other people so that we may be remembered favourably when we are gone.’

Another book she recently read which she recommends for professionals is The Speed of Trust by Stephen Covey. With a lack of trust little is achieved; its absence slows things down. Grathel gives the example of asking a team member to prepare a report but when it arrives, it contains a litany of errors. This means she cannot trust the team member to do their job properly and the next time she receives a report she will need to check it thoroughly, losing a lot of time.

‘We should therefore pursue all available avenues to develop trust because the faster we do that, the quicker our businesses can reach their goals. Trust is the glue that enables collaboration and drives performance,’ she concludes.

This article is an extract from the book Masters of Money – Strategies for Success from the CFOs of South Africa’s Biggest Companies available here – https://www.takealot.com/masters-of-money/PLID90121297?gad_source=1&gclid=CjwKCAiAyp-sBhBSEiwAWWzTnmLGsW3EWthrsEzrN69lcPhFqkxkQjPsxSF6CHoP2oj6-XRBtDB5gBoCfA8QAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

 

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