“There was something new under the African sun — Thomas Sankara, a guitar-playing, humorous, passionate, athletic, articulate, driven and honest young President with a puritanical bent and a seemingly endless supply of novel and innovative ideas.”
The quotation in the sub-title should not be summarily dismissed as a glib, sweet-toned turn of phrase. It is a very fitting nod to the nonpareil phenomenon that was Thomas Sankara. It rolled off the tongue of Joan Baxter, a Canadian journalist, development researcher, anthropologist, and award-winning author as borne out in Chapter 5 of her 2011 book titled Dust From Our Eyes: An Unblinkered Look At Africa.
In the same, strikingly dispassionate book, Baxter goes on to laud Thomas Sankara as “one of those rare individuals who come along every few decades or so, who seemed to have the energy, ingenuity, and creativity to turn a small country — or maybe the universe — on its head”. Paradoxically for a Westerner, Baxter was attempting to resurrect the hopes that Sankara, Africa’s greatest leader ever by far, inspired in the youth of this dismally stunted, shackled, and perhaps ill-starred continent.
On his inauguration as President on August 4 1983, Sankara spoke these highly evocative words: “We have to dare to invent the future … Everything that we are capable of imagining we are also capable of attaining.” The statement cut almost crisply to the heart of Napoleon Hill’s equally pregnant aphorism that “whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve”. To Sankara, no dream was forever a pipedream, no vision was simply a pie in the sky. So what was it that Sankara envisioned for his country? What future did the charismatic young leader and visionary have in store for the people whose destiny now lay in his 33-year-old hands, people who 23 years of pillaging and plunder at the highest levels of government and foreign vested interests had reduced to paupers?
It was this, as captured in a speech he delivered on another rostrum: “Our revolution will be of value only if, looking back and ahead, we are able to say that the Burkinabe people are a little happier because of it. Because they have clean drinking water, because they have plenty to eat, because they are in good health, because they have access to education, because they have decent housing, because they have better clothing, because they have the right to leisure, because they have greater freedom, more democracy and greater dignity … Revolution means happiness. Without happiness, we cannot speak of success.”
Yet even the most sanguine optimist had to take cognizance of the one inescapable fact – that the road to the Land of Milk and Honey would not be a stroll down what John Winston Lennon called Strawberry Fields. Realistically, it would entail a long stint in the wilderness, certainly not the 40 years of stasis the nation of Israel endured in the rocky terrains of Mount Sinai but considerably long anyway. Such misgivings were well-founded for the one stark truth was that the country was staggeringly and eye-poppingly poor. Would Sankara buckle under the enormity of the challenges that raged?
THE ODDS WERE FORMIDABLE
The Upper Volta Thomas Sankara took over in January 1983 was reeling from a raft of asphyxiating economic maladies. Firstly, nature itself had placed its own inscrutable veto on the fortuities of the country. It was landlocked and was partly enclasped in the tentacles of the drought-stricken Sahel Zone, a narrow band of semi-arid land which was contiguous to the Sahara Desert and stretched all the way from Senegal to the Sudan. Infant mortality rate was a whopping 280 per 1000 live births, one of the sorriest on the globe. Life expectancy was a piteous 40 years. A startling 90 percent of the population were unable to read and write, with a school enrolment rate of only 10 percent. There was only one doctor per 50,000 in a population of 7 million people. At a mere $100, average annual income per head was bottom-of- the-rung in the whole wide world.
A mandatory head tax, a flat rate for every able-bodied national of workable age which dated back to the days of French colonial rule, was still enforced as a desperate fiscal lifeline. Peasants had semi-feudal obligations to perform menial tasks for the paramount chiefs as and when they were called upon. As if that wasn’t outrageous enough, chiefs had the right to requisition food and animals from their subjects, another relic of the privilleges they enjoyed in the colonial days as a spur to reigning in nationalistic impulses amongst their people.
Sankara sought to reverse all these blights not inch by inch or step by step but fleet-footedly, at the speed of a gazelle. The revolutionary zealotry he undertook to instill in his people was not mere ideological posturing but was about tangible, realisable benchmarks for goal attainment. It was about a radically new approach to duty that presupposed the embrace of a radically new work ethic. It was all hands on deck now for every Jim, Jack, Mary, and Sharon: it was all systems go.
The Marxist-leaning leader’s idea of economic and institutional transformation was premised on change that was creative and non-conformist. It was change which, in his own words, contained “a certain amount of madness”, a foray if need be into realpolitik. That did not mean it was an exercise in futility, that it was so wild in its broad sweep and so onerous in its burdensomeness as to border on the fanciful. It was the pace at which it was going to be accomplished that required dying a little, that called for a level of self-sacrifice that was without parallel both historically and contemporaneously.
The young and feisty president was aware his task made that of Sisyphus seem like a Sunday School picnic but he was such a believer in the possibilities of his people and indeed in his own dynamism that he did not waver.
Sankara went to work literally from the very day he ascended to power. The first thing he did was to surround himself with a corps of 150 carefully vetted presidential aides who were going to assist him in moving the country forward by jet propulsion. Then he launched one of the most ambitious programmes for social, cultural, economic and political revival ever attempted on the continent of Africa. The concerted instruments of these reforms were the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs).
The CDRs were patterned after the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución of Cuba, which Fidel Castro had established in 1960 as a "collective system of revolutionary vigilance” that criss-crossed the entire island like a latticework. They were launched under a Peoples Development Plan under which provinces were to set down their objectives and devise a means through which to bring them to fruition.
Underscoring this pioneering experiment of the exercise of power in all its expressions by the people in the name of the people, Sankara observed thus: “The most important thing is to give the people confidence, to help them understand that they can at last define their own happiness, to enable them to decide on their own aims and understand the price to be paid.”
Sankara saw CDRs as a veritable organ for the devolution of the full spectrum of power to the grassroots which would go a long way in consolidating direct, participatory democracy. This divestiture of all facets of executive affirmation on the part of his regime in favour of a brand of authority and responsibility that was coterminous and co-equal with that of the governed was at least in theory envisaged to be wholesale.
“Democracy means using the full potential of the people,” he pointed out. “The ballot box and an electoral system do not prove the existence of democracy. There is no real democracy where those in power call elections from time to time and concern themselves with the people only in the run-up to an election … There can be no democracy unless power in all its forms – economic, military, political, social and cultural – is in the hands of the people.”
True to their billing, the CDRs became the cornerstone of popular participation in power, permeating as they did every nook and cranny of the constituent structures. There was a CDR for for the youth, a CDR for women, a CDR for farmers, a CDR for unions, a CDR for each workplace, ad infinitum. The CDRs had clout. Their mandate went beyond the preservation of public security to the inculcation of political education, maintenance of impeccable standards of sanitation, boosting production and productivity, bringing checks and balances to bear on the excesses of government and bureaucrats, red-flagging budget control deviations in the ministries, and a host of overarching judicial and administrative responsibilities.
Not only did CDRs deliberate on a whole range of national projects but they also had the power to reject them if they were not deemed crucial or were fraught with lapses. With the establishment of CDRs therefore, Sankara had radically restructured the basic functions of society, turning it from a mere cog in the wheel to an integral part of the wheel itself.
Sankara also gave considerable thought to the mobilisation of ideas from the youth cadre with a view to inform official policy formulation. His former Policy Adviser Fidele Kientega affirms this predilection thus: “Sankara created the Young Pioneers groups in all schools and communities to change the old feudalistic patron-client political discourse. Young people were trained to practice democracy in decision-making in terms of issues that affected them. They were asked to come up with proposals that were then formed into policies and were delegated with the mandate of implementing these same polices they helped to form. Sankara was building grassroots democracy.”
MILESTONES IN HEALH AND EDUCATION
On August 4 1984, the first anniversary of his accession to power, Thomas Sankara changed the name of his country from the colonially imposed Upper Volta to Burkina Farso, with the people now to be called the Burkinabe. The name was weaved together from two words borrowed from two local languages and meant “Land of Honourable People.” The name change was not prompted by the sentimental need to rid the country of any lingering imperialistic vestiges.
It was meant to underline a new dispensation altogether in the aspirations of the nation and as a rallying cry for his people to invoke so that they were forever reminded of forging a new international dignity through scaling new economic heights. That’s how he sought to galvanise his people and launch a bootstrap development movement. Granted, the name of the country was an integral symbol of his national crusade. Besides being a great psychological spur, it had positive ramifications, implicitly, at a karmic level.
Education and literacy were an overriding priority. In only the first two years of his presidency, the proportion of people who attended school jumped from 10 percent to about 25 percent, thus significantly denting the 90 percent illiteracy rate that bedeviled the country when he assumed office. In 1986, a whirlwind nationwide literacy campaign mounted in nine indigenous languages resulted in 35,000 being able to read and write. It was tantamount to imparting a competence across the board in one fell swoop.
Similar strides were made in public health. In a 15-day marathon immunisation programme in November 1984 – and this was only three months after he took office – Sankara enlisted the aid of Cuban volunteer medics to vaccinate 2.5 million Burkinabe children against the dreaded meningitis, yellow fever, and measles in a bid to fast-track the promotion of public health.
The feat was unprecedented anywhere. For the first time ever, basic health services were like in the Botswana of today made available to the entire population, one consequence of which was that river blindness was kept in check, again a first for the country under a plucky, doggedly determined Thomas Sankara. By January 1985, the infant mortality rate had precipitately fallen from 280 deaths for every 1000 births to 145. In only four months at the helm, the wunderkind president had delivered results as though he was waving a magic wand.
THE INFRASTRUCTURE AND THE SAHEL
Concerned that his country desperately needed an infrastructural uplift, Thomas Sankara embarked on an ambitious rail and road construction programme to “tie the nation together” as he put it. Schools, hospitals, dams, and houses were also factored into the hive of construction activity.
As much as government was the project bankroller, a considerable amount of labour was donated by the citizenry out of a sense purely of patriotic duty and the unremitting love of their iconic leader. For instance, peasants built storage dams by the sweat of their own brow, and every village was called upon to voluntarily build a medical dispensary. Over 350 communities were stirred by Sankara’s logically marshaled persuasive pitches to construct schools by sacrificially working their fingers to the bone. Note that the people were not expected to make a material contribution: only labour and of their own accord. No one was forcefully conscripted.
In February 1985, two construction programs were incepted. These were a public housing project and what Sankara called “The Battle for the Railroad” project. The latter was the construction of a missing rail link to the northeastern region of Tambo with a view to develop a major manganese deposit that had recently been stumbled upon. Sankara dubbed the undertaking a “battle” in that it was done independent of foreign financing after the Bretton Woods institutions and the jaundice-eyed donor community gave it the thumbs-down in favour of the less crucial road to the already flourishing northern mining region. The only foreign prop for the project took the form of an inconsequential number of rails Canada grudgingly provided from a plant in Trenton, Nova Scotia.
With government coffers stretched too thin, Sankara again took recourse to a resource of last resort – the citizenry. He appealed to them to lend the project a vital hand without which it was foredoomed. They readily obliged: between 1985 and 1987, the merry throngs of volunteers, who mostly comprised students and civil servants, led 62 km of rail under the blazing Sahel sun and a smog-like swirl of hovering dust.
Meanwhile, the encroaching Sahara Desert needed to be taken care of as another component of the national agenda. In this regard, Sankala launched a vigorous reforestation programme in which hordes of Burkinabes were both directly and indirectly mobilised. Over 10 million trees were planted around the country in the space of only twelve months in a bid to expeditiously halt the growing desertification of the Sahel. In order to keep the momentum of the reforestation going, new house owners or tenants were made to undertake to plant and tend to a prescribed minimum number of trees.
Concomitant measures to help perpetuate the reforestation programme have been summed up thus: “The CDRs of women and youth mobilised to build tens of thousands of improved stoves in order to reduce the consumption of firewood. Hundreds of wells were sunk to provide reliable drinking water to those who lacked it. An old, partly-abandoned tradition of each town and village cultivating its own grove of trees was revived. In the villages in the developed river valleys, each family was given the means and the obligation to plant one hundred trees per year. The cutting and selling of firewood was brought under strict control.” (To be continued next week)
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan
Corruption is a heavy price to pay. The clean ones pay and suffer at the mercy of people who cannot have enough. They always want to eat and eat so selfishly like a bunch of ugly masked shrews. I hope God forgives me for ridiculing his creatures, but that mammal is so greedy. But corruption is not the new kid on the block, because it has always been everywhere.
This of course begs the question, why that is so? The common answer was and still is – abuse and misuse of power by those in power and weak institutions, disempowered to control the leaders. In 1996, the then President of The World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn named the ‘C-Word’ for the first time during an annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions. A global fight against corruption started. Transparency International began its work. Internal and external audits mushroomed; commissions of inquiry followed and ever convoluted public tender procedures have become a bureaucratic nightmare to the private sector, trying to fight red tape.
The result is sobering corruption today is worse than it was 25 years ago. There is no denying that strong institutions help, but how does it come that in the annual Transparency International Ranking the same group of countries tend to be on the top while another group of countries, many African among them, tend to be on the bottom? Before one jumps to simple and seductive conclusions let us step back a moment.
Wolfensohn called corruption a cancer that destroys economies like a cancer destroys a body. A cancer is, simplified, good cells in a body gone bad, taking control of more and more good cells until the entire body is contaminated and eventually dies. So, let us look at the good cells of society first: they are family ties, clan and tribe affiliation, group cohesion, loyalty, empathy, reciprocity.
Most ordinary people like the reader of these lines or myself would claim to share such values. Once we ordinary people must make decisions, these good cells kick in: why should I hire a Mrs. Unknown, if I can hire my niece whose strengths and weaknesses I know? If I hire the niece, she will owe me and support my objectives.
Why should I purchase office furniture from that unknown company if I know that my friend’s business has good quality stuff? If I buy from him, he will make an extra effort to deliver his best and provide quality after sales service? So, why go through a convoluted tender process with uncertain outcome? In the unlikely case my friend does not perform as expected, I have many informal means to make him deliver, rather than going through a lengthy legal proceeding?
This sounds like common sense and natural and our private lives do work mostly that way and mostly quite well.
The problem is scale. Scale of power, scale of potential gains, scale of temptations, scale of risk. And who among us could throw the first stone were we in positions of power and claim not to succumb to the temptations of scale? Like in a body, cancer cells start growing out of proportion.
So, before we call out for new leaders – experience shows they are rarely better than the old ones – we need to look at ourselves first. But how easy is that? If I were the niece who gets the job through nepotism, why should I be overly critical? If I got a big furniture contract from a friend, why should I spill the beans? What right do I have to assume that, if I were a president or a minister or a corporate chief procurement officer I would not be tempted?
This is where we need to learn. What is useful, quick, efficient, and effective within a family or within a clan or a small community can become counterproductive and costly and destructive at larger corporate or national scale. Our empathy with small scale reciprocity easily permeates into complacency and complicity with large scale corruption and into an acquiescence with weak institutions to control it.
Our institutions can only be as strong as we wish them to be.
I was probably around ten years old and have always been that keen enthusiastic child that also liked to sing the favourite line of, ‘the world will become a better place.’ I would literally stand in front of a mirror and use my mom’s torch as a mic and sing along Michael Jackson’s hit song, ‘We are the world.’
Despite my horrible voice, I still believed in the message. Few years later, my annoyance towards the world’s corrupt system wonders whether I was just too naïve. Few years later and I am still in doubt so as to whether I should go on blabbing that same old boring line. ‘The world is going to be a better place.’ The question is, when?
The answer is – as always: now.
This is pessimistic if not fatalistic – I challenge Sagan’s outlook with a paraphrased adage of unknown origin: Some people can be bamboozled all of the time, all people can be bamboozled some of the time, but never will all people be bamboozled all of the time.
We, the people are the only ones who can heal society from the cancer of corruption. We need to understand the temptation of scale and address it. We need to stop seeing ourselves just a victim of a disease that sleeps in all of us. We need to give power to the institutions that we have put in place to control corruption: parliaments, separation of power, the press, the ballot box. And sometimes we need to say as a niece – no, I do not want that job as a favour, I want it because I have proven to be better than other contenders.
It is going to be a struggle, because it will mean sacrifices, but sacrifices that we have chosen, not those imposed on us.
Let us start today.
*Bokani Lisa Motsu is a student at University of Botswana
Parliament, the second arm of State through its parliamentary committees are one of Botswana’s most powerful mechanisms to ensure that government is held accountable at all times. The Accounting Officers are mostly Permanent Secretaries across government Ministries and Chief Executive Officers, Director Generals, Managing Directors of parastatals, state owned enterprises and Civil Society.
So parliament plays its oversight authority via the legislators sitting on a parliamentary committee and Accounting Officers sitting in the hot chair. When left with no proper checks and balances, the Executive is prone to abuse the arrangement and so systematic oversight of the executive is usually carried out by parliamentary committees. They track the work of various government departments and ministries, and conduct scrutiny into important aspects of their policy, direction and administration.
It is not rocket science that effective oversight requires that committees be totally independent and able to set their own agendas and have the power to summon ministers and top civil servants to appear and answer questions. Naturally, Accounting Officers are the highest ranking officials in the government hierarchy apart from cabinet Ministers and as such wield much power and influence in the performance of government. To illustrate further, government performance is largely owed to the strategic and policy direction of top technocrats in various Ministries.
It is disheartening to point out that the recent parliament committees — as has been the case all over the years — has laid bare the incompetency, inadequacy and ineptitude of people bestowed with great responsibilities in public offices. To say that they are ineffective and inefficient sounds as an understatement. Some appear useless and hopeless when it comes to running the government despite the huge responsibility they possess.
If we were uncertain about the degree at which the Accounting Officers are incompetent, the ongoing parliament committees provide a glaring answer. It is not an exaggeration to say that ordinary people on the streets have been held ransom by these technocrats who enjoy their air conditioned offices and relish being chauffeured around in luxurious BX SUV’s while the rest of the citizenry continue to suffer. Because of such high life the Accounting Officers seem to have, with time, they have gotten out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve.
An example; when appearing before the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Office of the President Permanent Secretary, Thuso Ramodimoosi, looked reluctant to admit misuse of public funds. Although it is clear funds were misused, he looked unbothered when committee members grilled him over the P80 million Orapa House building that has since morphed into a white elephant for close to 10 successive years. To him, it seems it did not matter much and PAC members were worried for nothing.
On a separate day, another Accounting officer, Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Naledi Mosalakatane, was not shy to reveal to PAC upon cross-examination that there exist more than 6 000 vacancies in government. Whatever reasons she gave as an excuse, they were not convincing and the committee looked sceptical too. She was faltering and seemed not to have a sense of urgency over the matter no matter how critical it is to the populace.
Botswana’s unemployment rate hoovers around 18 percent in a country where majority of the population is the youth, and the most affected by unemployment. It is still unclear why DPSM could underplay such a critical matter that may threaten the peace and stability of the country. Accounting Officers clearly appear out of touch with the reality out there – if the PAC examinations are anything to go by.
Ideally the DPSM Director could be dropping the vacancy post digits while sourcing funds and setting timelines for the spaces to be filled as a matter of urgency so that the citizens get employed to feed their families and get out of unemployment and poverty ravaging the country. The country should thank parliamentary committees such as PAC to expose these abnormalities and the behaviour of our leaders when in public office. How can a full Accounting Officer downplay the magnitude of the landless problem in Botswana and fail to come with direct solutions tailor made to provide Batswana with the land they desperately need?
Land is a life and death matter for some citizens, as we would know.
When Bonolo Khumotaka, the Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, whom as a top official probably with a lucrative pay too appears to be lacking sense of urgency as she is failing on her key mandate of working around the clock to award the citizens with land especially those who need it most like the marginalised. If government purports they need P94 billion to service land to address the land crisis what is plan B for government? Are we going to accept it the way it is?
Government should wake up from its slumber and intervene to avoid the 30 years unnecessary waiting period in State land and 13 years in Tribal land. Accounting Officers are custodians of government policy, they should ensure it is effective and serve its purpose. What we have been doing over the years, has proved that it is not effective, and clearly there is a need for change of direction.
His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana found it appropriate to invoke Section 17 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, using the powers vested in him to declare a State of Public Emergency starting from the 2nd April 2020 at midnight.
The constitutional provision under Section 17 (2b) only provided that such a declaration could be up to a maximum of 21 days. His Excellency further invoked Section 93 (1) to convene an extra- ordinary meeting of Parliament to have the opportunity to consult members of parliament on measures that have been put in place to address the spread and transmission of the virus. At this meeting Members of Parliament passed a resolution on the legal instruments and regulations governing the period of the state of emergency, and extended its duration by six (6) months.
The passing of the State of Emergency is considered as a very crucial step in fighting the near apocalyptic potential of the Novel COVID-19 virus. One of the interesting initiatives that was developed and extended to the business community was a 3-month wage subsidy that came with a condition that no businesses would retrench for the duration of the State of Public Emergency. This has potentially saved many people’s jobs as most companies would have been extremely quick to reduce expenses by downsizing. Self-preservation as some would call it.
Most organisations would have tried to reduce costs by letting go of people, retreated and tried their best to live long enough to fight another day. In my view there is silver lining that we need to look at and consider. The fact that organisations are not allowed to retrench has forced certain companies to look at the people with a long-term view.
Most leaders have probably had to wonder how they are going to ensure that their people are resilient. Do they have team members who innovate and add value to the organisation during these testing times? Do they even have resilient people or are they just waiting for the inevitable end? Can they really train people and make them resilient? How can your team members be part of your recovery plan? What can they do to avoid losing the capabilities they need to operate meaningfully for the duration of the State of Public Emergency and beyond?
The above questions have forced companies to reimagine the future of work. The truth is that no organisation can operate to its full potential without resilient people. In the normal business cycle, new teams come on board; new business streams open, operations or production sites launch or close; new markets develop, and technology is introduced. All of this provides fresh opportunities – and risks.
The best analogy I have seen of people-focused resilience planning reframes employees as your organisation’s immune system, ready and prepared to anticipate risks and ensure they can tackle challenges, fend off illness and bounce back more quickly. So, how do you supercharge your organizational immune system to become resilient?
COVID-19 has helped many organisations realize they were not as prepared as they believed themselves to be. Now is the time to take stock and reset for the future. All the strategies and plans prior to COVID-19 arriving in Botswana need to be thrown out of the window and you need to develop a new plan today. There is no room for tweaking or reframing. Botswana has been disrupted and we need to accept and embrace the change. What we initially anticipated as a disease that would take a short term is turning out to be something we are going to have to live with for a much longer time. It is going to be a marathon and therefore businesses need to have a plan to complete this marathon.
Start planning. Planning for change can help reduce employee stress, anxiety, and overall fear, boosting the confidence of staff and stakeholders. Think about conducting and then regularly refreshing a strategic business impact analysis, look at your employee engagement scores, dig into your customer metrics and explore the way people work alongside your behaviours and culture. This research will help to identify what you really want to protect, the risks that you need to plan for and what you need to survive during disruption. Don’t forget to ask your team members for their input. In many cases they are closest to critical business areas and already have ideas to make processes and systems more robust.
Revisit your organisational purpose. Purpose, values and principles are powerful tools. By putting your organisation’s purpose and values front and center, you provide clear decision-making guidelines for yourself and your organisation. There are very tough and interesting decisions to make which have to be made fast; so having guiding principles on which the business believes in will help and assist all decision makers with sanity checking the choices that are in front of them. One noticeable characteristic of companies that adapt well during change is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for beyond shareholder value and how to get things done right.
Revisit your purpose and values. Understand if they have been internalised and are proving useful. If so, find ways to increase their use. If not, adapt them as necessities, to help inspire and guide people while immunizing yourself against future disruption. Design your employee experience. The most resilient, adaptive and high performing companies are made up of people who know each other, like each other, and support each other.
Adaptability requires us to teach other, speak up and discuss problems, and have a collective sense of belonging. Listening to your team members is a powerful and disruptive thing to do. It has the potential to transform the way you manage your organisation. Enlisting employees to help shape employee experience, motivates better performance, increases employee retention and helps you spot issues and risks sooner. More importantly, it gives employees a voice so you can get active and constructive suggestions to make your business more robust by adopting an inclusive approach.
Leaders need to show they care. If you want to build resilience, you must build on a basis of trust. And this means leaders should listen, care, and respond. It’s time to build the entire business model around trust and empathy. Many of the employees will be working under extreme pressure due to the looming question around what will happen when companies have to retrench. As a leader of a company transparency and open communication are the most critical aspects that need to be illustrated.
Take your team member into confidence because if you do have to go through the dreaded excise of retrenchment you have to remember that those people the company retains will judge you based on the process you follow. If you illustrate that the business or organization has no regard for loyalty and commitment, they will never commit to the long-term plans of the organisation which will leave you worse off in the end. Its an absolutely delicate balance but it must all be done in good faith. Hopefully, your organization will avoid this!
This is the best time to revisit your identify and train your people to encourage qualities that build strong, empathetic leadership; self-awareness and control, communication, kindness and psychological safety. Resilience is the glue that binds functional silos and integrates partners, improves communications, helps you prepare, listen and understand. Most importantly, people-focused resilience helps individuals and teams to think collectively and with empathy – helping you respond and recover faster.
Article written by Thabo Majola, a brand communications expert with a wealth of experience in the field and is Managing Director of Incepta Communications.