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The Ripple Effect of Leading by Example

As a modern day leader, ask yourself: do I have a meaningful influence on the world around me, what legacy am I leaving my children, community and future generations?

Written by Dr Arien van der Merwe MBChB FRSPH MISMA


Over the next 10 to 15 years, the world will become increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.  Globally, the leadership challenge is the ability to lead in this VUCA world. Resilience, inner core strength and mindfulness are competencies needed for VUCA leadership.

Today’s leaders have to believe in, and actively cultivate, transformation not only in their own lives, but also inspire values-driven behaviour into the lives of their employees, their families and the communities round them too.To do this, the leadership team of any company has to actively embrace a wellness lifestyle, which includes not only physicalactivity, but mental, emotional, spiritual, work-life, family, self-development and social wellbeing too. Great leaders, who’ve experienced first-hand the effects of more energy, health, happiness and inner growth, naturally pay it forward to benefit their workforce. Ultimately, this will improve the bottom line from the top down, by investing in the wellbeing of employees, the true assets of the company.

As Hein Schröder, clinical psychologist and expert in management and leadership assessments, says, ‘for people to deliver optimally, they need to be ‘in flow’ with the work they do, as well as with the rest of their lives. This results in an enthusiastic zest for life, high levels of engagement and dedication to their work’.

Wellbeing can be measured

Individual and group wellbeing profiles can be measured via various assessments: from executive medicals, stress and depression questionnaires, to live blood analysis, biochemical screening and brain profiling. According to Hein, ‘cutting edge research has resulted in standardised and validated survey instruments being developed. It allows for employee risk prediction and the proactive management of these for leaders, individuals, teams and areas within an organisation that may need tailor-made solutions.

Certain solutions could provide leadership with insight into the organisational ability to act on strategic intent, by providing data on the psychological and physical capability of the workforce resulting in a range of Organisational Development interventions. Furthermore, competency based assessments could be used to identify specific strengths and areas for further development of managers and leaders in support of their personal growth at a business level’.


Applying the VUCA model as a framework to leadership development models,enables HR and talent management professionals to identify and foster the leaders their organisations need now and in the future.

Heart of the matter:

  • Volatility can be countered with vision – vision is even more vital during turbulent times.
  • Uncertainty can be countered with understanding – the ability of a leader to stop, look and listen.
  • Complexity can be countered with clarity – the deliberate process to find meaning in chaos.
  • Ambiguity can be countered with agility – the ability to communicate effectively across the organization, and to move swiftly to apply solutions.


A wellness based, VUCA leadership development program, provides keys to encourage change (identifying health, stress and psychological risk factors) together with the solution to enhance holistic health and wellbeing. 


Leading by Example: The Soul of Leadership

  • Cultivating leadership through mindfulness training

Combining the science and mental training of mindfulness, with an understanding of the challenges, complexities, opportunities and responsibilities of today’s leaders

  • The Science of Leadership
    • Science and optimal brain function
    • Mind, brain and consciousness
    • The science and art of deep relaxation with practical experience.
    • Heart and brain synchronisation resulting in ways to access preferred brain wave ranges using the 3 P’s (practice, patience and perseverance).
    • Brain entrainment and resonant frequencies of brainwaves for whole brain functioning
    • The effect of negative stress on the brain, heart and immune system
    • Neuroscience, new biology and quantum physics
    • Epigenetics, DNA activation and EPS (emotional positioning system) process work, tuning into the right brain (and right mind!); thoughts, emotions and resonant brainwave patterns; and a key business tool of the new leader: the heart as brain!
    • Enhancing leadership strengths with a salutogenic* approach
  • Optimal wellbeing and resilience

Leading by Example. Practical, psychological and physical health enhancing tools to manage health challenges in an integrative approach, incorporating physical body, mental-emotional and psycho-spiritual aspects of existence for optimal performance and self-actualisation. 

Holistic VUCA leadership wellbeing works on many different levels. To achieve optimal results, a program needs to work on all levels: physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social and personal.


Working at soul level through mindfulness, enhances the ability to find the true solutions within.

Summary of VUCA Training outcomes

  • Internal milieu management, experience and understanding of own health and wellbeing essential for external milieu dissemination into all spheres of workplace wellness interventions and successful implementation
  • Communicating (listening and sharing) with sincerity, open mindednessand clarity regardless of personal and cultural differences
  • Overcoming anger, irritability, frustration and irritation:developing ways of correcting the source of the problem and gain lasting control over these emotions
  • Encouraging high morale:learning how to turn sources of irritation, frustration and low performance into opportunities for growth, increased energy and performance
  • Leading with vision:learning, listening and discussing how to lead by example, establishing optimal relationships, giving and receiving energy, communicating clearly, responding with discernment rather than prejudice, through understanding the seven principles of modern leadership based on values, beliefs and ethical decision making
  • Servant leadership:Learn how to build strong relationships and to lead with authentic authority versus autocratic power. Developing and mentoring future leaders
  • The ripple effect of visionary leadership cultureon all employees, extending into family, community and social groups (in line with Social Responsibility part of triple bottom line reporting of New Companies Act of 2011)



*Wikipedia: Salutogenesis is a term coined by Aaron Antonovsky, professor of medical sociology. The term describes an approach focusing on factors that support human health and wellbeing, rather than on factors that cause disease, depression and unhappiness. More specifically, the ‘salutogenic model’ is concerned with the relationship between health, stress and coping mechanisms.

For further enquiries about Leadership Development Programs, please contact Dr Arien van der Merwe, Director of Health Stress Management Gauteng (Pty) Ltd. Website: Email: / Landline: 012 362 2422

Bio Summary: Dr Arien van der Merwe is a medical doctor, medical specialist in health and wellbeing, internationally published author of 17 books and 12 training manuals, with 17 years’ experience. Dr Arien writes for, and consults regularly, to many magazines and journals in South Africa, and is a regular guest on radio and TV. She is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health in the UK, for the work she does in South Africa to promote public health and wellness through education, training and communication. She is also a Member of the International Stress Management Association, UK branch. Arien believes in a holistic, integrative approach to optimise health and wellbeing.

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