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STRONG FINISHERS WANTED

"I am at my best nearing the finish of a race. Until then I am just another mediocre distance runner. Just one of the many run-of-the-mill competitors well back in the pack. Just one more old man trying to string together six-minute miles and not quite succeeding. But with the finish line in sight, all that changes.

Now I am the equal of anyone. I am world class. I am unbeatable. Gray-haired and balding and starting to wrinkle, but world class. Gasping and wheezing and groaning, but unbeatable." So writes Dr. George Sheehan in his book Running and Being (Simon and Schuster, 1978, p. 221).

An accomplished cardiologist, author and marathon runner, George Sheehan lived his life with passion and purpose. Even when confronted with terminal cancer in 1991, he demonstrated courage and determination.

He ran life's race and he finished strong. As the year 2015 is nearing its twilight, it's only natural to look back and reflect on the months gone by. No doubt it's been a year of mixed fortunes for most of us. We've laughed. We've cried. We've lost. We've won. And everything in between. But think back to January. You no doubt were full of optimism and enthusiasm about what the new year had in store for you. Perhaps you were even convinced that this was YOUR year to make great strides and accomplishments. Now, with December fading fast, you might be disillusioned and despondent. Few or none of your aspirations may have come true.

You are nearing the finish line of the 2015 marathon, a marathon you started with much zest and gusto in January. You started strong, but will you finish strong? As with Dr. Sheehan, the day will come for each of us to finish life's race. In 2 Timothy 4, we read how that time had come for Paul. In fewer than one hundred words, he shares with us the hardships of his present life, the heartbeat of his past, and the hope he holds for the future.

In this brief passage, Paul reflects on his entire life and ministry. He looks around, looks back and then he looks ahead. With the finish line in sight, as he picks up the pace, Paul sums up his dynamic life and his hope in death. The lessons we learn from this aging apostle will enable us to run well today, while encouraging us to finish strong tomorrow. Paul's words are dictated, probably to Luke the physician, shortly before his martyrdom at the decree of the Roman Emperor Nero in the year 66 AD.

For thirty years he has traveled, witnessed, worked and preached throughout the Mediterranean world. He has been helped and hated, assisted and attacked, blessed and cursed. Whatever else can be said of his faith and life, it certainly wasn't dull! Enduring imprisonment and anticipating his execution, Paul begins in verse 6 with two vivid metaphors telling us about the hardships of the present. First, Paul sees himself as a "drink offering" about to be poured out. What is the apostle saying? In ancient Rome, banquets commonly ended with a particular ritual: the symbolic act of pouring out on the ground a cup of wine in honor of the Roman gods. Here Paul borrows this oblation imagery.

He says that his life is an offering poured out for the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, this fits with Paul's belief that all of life is to come under the Lordship of Christ. All of life is to be regarded as "a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God" as Paul writes in Romans 12. In effect, the apostle is saying, "The Roman authorities will not take my life. Rather I will die living my life, giving my life for the Lord.

I have been a living sacrifice, serving Him, since the day I was saved. Now I will complete that sacrifice by laying down my life for the One who gave His life for me." Second, in Romans 12:6, Paul also relates that the hardships he is facing in the present will soon cease. He writes, "The time has come for my departure." The word "departure" is a word that has many meanings. For one thing, it can mean to hoist an anchor and set sail. It seems that Paul looked upon his present hardships and his impending death as a release from the world. Like a seafaring mariner, he was about to embark on one last expedition – an eternal voyage. Paul saw death as an opportunity to set sail into eternity. Another meaning for the word "departure" refers to striking and taking down a tent.

The apostle longed to be freed from his battered and broken body – his earthly tent – now shackled in prison. He anticipates his martyrdom as a change of address and a journey home. As he told the Philippian Christians, "to live is Christ, to die is gain". Paul awaits his release from his present hardships in order to depart and to be with the Lord. At the same time, Paul affirms God's sovereignty over life and death. He trusts in a personal and compassionate Savior and Lord who will not place on him a burden greater than he with the Lord will be able to bear.

Rather than wrest control from God, rather than alleviate his brief present hardship and suffering by taking his own life, Paul reaffirms his confidence in God's will and way. In this way Paul is determined to wait upon the Lord. In 2 Timothy 4:6, the apostle looks around at his present hardships. Then in 2 Timothy 3:7, Paul looks back on his life. He remembers the heartbeat of his past. For over thirty years, he has faithfully served the Lord. In this verse we find three images drawn from the athletic arena. Paul likens his life and ministry to that of a long distance runner who has competed honorably in the ancient Olympic games.

"I have fought the good fight." The word "fight" in the original text comes from a word which may refer to any athletic contest in the games. This phrase carries a much broader meaning than we commonly associate with a fight or a boxing match. The word is agon from which we derive our English word "agony." It pictures an athlete coming off the field, having given it his all and given it his best. Here Paul is truthfully saying that he has given his all for Christ. "I have run the race." Having given his best, Paul now sees himself as crossing the finish line. It is easy to begin a race.

It is easy to run hard for a few miles. But it is much harder to finish a long distance race, and harder still to finish strong. I believe that Paul is telling Timothy and each of us that the Christian life is not a sprint competition. Rather it is a long distance race, a marathon-type challenge, beckoning us to run well, to keep a healthy pace, to stay focused and to finish strong. There are too many strong starters but very few strong finishers. Too many people start with much aplomb and fanfare, but are nowhere to be seen at the finish line.

Years before Paul stated his life's purpose to the Church in Philippi, "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Here in 2 Timothy 4, Paul looks back and he is able to say "I have run the race to the finish." In both of these passages, the word for "race" is the word dromon.

It is a word that has a notable place in the ancient Greco-Roman world. Historians tell us that in the year 490 BC, a Greek dromo, a runner-messenger by the name of Pheidippides was dispatched by a Greek general to inform the citizenry of Athens that the Persians had been defeated at the Battle of Marathon. Pheidippides supposedly ran a route that took him south along the coast and up and across a series of coastal foothills before descending into Athens, a distance of about 26 miles from the plains of Marathon.

According to legend, as he arrived in Athens, Pheidippides announced, "Rejoice. We conquer!" Then he fell down dead! (see Hal Higdon, Marathon, Rodale Press, 1993). In honor of Pheidippides, the ancient Olympic games, of which the Apostle Paul was familiar, held several long distance runs. But it was the modern Olympic games, which resumed in Greece in 1896, which actually initiated the modern marathon of 26.2 miles in honor of the legendary Pheidippides. During the year 1998, figures show that approximately 450,000 American runners began and finished a marathon race of 26.2 miles.

Someone has said that the marathon is the most accessible ultimate challenge around – it is like a Mount Everest climb in a city near you! Perhaps some of you reading this have run marathons in recent years. There is a Gaborone Marathon, for example, that has run intermittently the last few years. These events are usually a blend of joy and pain, and hopefully more of the former than the latter. Still, many runners can relate to the sentiment of the great American marathoner and 1972-76 Olympic medalist Frank Shorter. While running in the marathon trials for the 1971 Pan American Games, at about 21 miles, just before dropping out of the race, Frank Shorter was really struggling. He had "hit the wall" and was fading fast.

As he was being passed by U.S. Olympian Kenny Moore, Shorter groaned one of the more famous quotes in running lore when he muttered at mile 21, "Why couldn't Pheidippides have died here?" (Higdon, Marathon, p. 😎. Although Frank Shorter and many other great marathoners have had to drop out of a particular race, the Apostle Paul never did. He stayed the course. He kept digging deep despite the temptation to quit. He saw his own life and ministry as that of a dromo, as a long distance runner and messenger for his Lord and Leader. Like Pheidippides, he had to make sure he delivers the message at all costs, even if it came at the ultimate cost – paying with his life.

Paul could claim, "I have finished the race." Then the apostle concludes his look back on his life by stating, "I have kept the faith." If we understand this statement in the context of the ancient Olympic games, Paul is telling us that he has run the race according to the rules. History reveals that the early Greek and Roman athletes took a solemn oath before the games. They pledged that they would compete honestly and honorably. Here is Paul, at the end of the race, affirming that his vows have been kept. And to whom were these vows made? To his Lord.

There are too many dishonorable men around; too many willing to cut corners; too many all too ready to try to cheat the system. I used to run middle distance, up to 10 km. I know firsthand the rigors of distance running. Paul is saying that throughout the long, lonely, difficult and demanding race, he has kept Christ uppermost in his heart and mind. His life goal for thirty years has been to be obedient to Christ's call. His faith, though tested, has grown stronger. And the Lord Jesus, in whom Paul has trusted and for whom Paul has lived, has kept and carried Paul through thick and thin. The Lord's grace is sufficient for his every need! Thus far, we have seen in verse 6 how the apostle looks around at his present hardships.

In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul looks back on his life, remembering the heartbeat of his past. Then finally, in 2 Timothy 4:8, the aging apostle looks ahead and writes about his hope for the future. "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." In the ancient Olympic games, a winning athlete was rewarded with the coveted laurel wreath or a garland of oak leaves. With this the victor was crowned. To wear such a crown – a crown of victory called stephanos – was the greatest honor that could come to any athlete. But this crown, in a few short days, would wither. Paul knows that there is for him a crown which would never fade, and this crown of righteousness is God's reward to those who are faithful and obedient to His Son. As Paul writes to Timothy, he knows that in a very short time he will stand before the Roman judgment seat and that his trial will have but one outcome. He knows what Nero's verdict will be.

The judges in Rome were not righteous. If they were, they would have released Paul. Worse still, Nero was one of the most despotic and cruel emperors the ancient world had ever seen. Paul knew that Nero would have him beheaded. How many times had he been tried in one court after another! Yet now he faces his last Judge, his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge who always judges correctly. William Barclay once observed that a person who is dedicated to Christ is ultimately indifferent to the verdict of any human court. He cares not if they condemn him so long as he hears his Master's voice saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant." This is Paul's hope and joy as his life nears its end. He looks ahead with confidence and certainty.

He shares his joy with Timothy, reminding his young friend and protégé that this crown awaits not only him, but also Timothy and all others who trust, serve and live for Christ. Consider your own life. Do you have this same kind of hope and assurance? You may feel pressed and pressured on every side.

The challenges, at times, may seem relentless. You may feel a lot like Paul must have felt. Yet, do you have the hope and assurance which he knew as his death neared? Do you have the strength and the stamina to see your race out? Whether your race has just begun, is reaching the midpoint or is nearing the finish, you can have the peace of God in your life, and you can be at peace with God. How? Do what Paul did. He confessed his sin and admitted his need for God's forgiveness. He accepted God's love and accepted God's Son, Jesus Christ as the Savior and Lord of his life. That is what Paul did and that is what each of us must do. Only with the Lord will we be able to run life's race to the very best of our ability, and only with the Lord will we be able to finish strong.

The story of Eric Liddell, the 1924 Olympic 400 meter gold medalist, is widely known through the 1981 Academy Award winning film Chariots of Fire. Liddell, the son of Scottish missionaries to China, himself became a missionary serving Christ in China. Like Paul, Eric Liddell was imprisoned and died for his faith and witness for Christ. Like Paul, Eric Liddell was also committed to "run for God and let the whole world stand in wonder" (a quote from Chariots of Fire, 1981). As you and I run the race set before us today and tomorrow, take time to reflect on your running. Remember Paul's words to Timothy. Realize that with the Lord, you, too, can fight the fight, run the race and keep the faith. 2015 is ending but has not yet ended. You might be on your last legs, but you can still finish whatever unfinished business you still have. Sadly, and this is a fact of life and not a prophecy of doom, some will not finish this year. None of you reading this piece is guaranteed 2016. You still have the now – 2015 – to finish. With the Lord, you can run well and finish strong!

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Can we cure ourselves from the cancer of corruption?

28th October 2020
DCEC DIRECTOR: Tymon Katholo

Bokani Lisa Motsu

“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

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Accounting Officers are out of touch with reality

19th October 2020

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.

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Is it possible to make people part of your business resilience planning after the State of Public Emergency?

12th October 2020

THABO MAJOLA

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.

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