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“KEY CHALLENGES FOR LEADERS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW”

DR. AKOLANG TOMBALE PhD
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
BOTSWANA MEAT COMMISSION


Let me start by thanking KNOWLEDGE RESOURCES for inviting me to share with you my humble leadership thoughts and experiences, this morning.  I have been asked to talk about KEY CHALLENGES FOR LEADERS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW.


In particular I was asked to look at:

Leadership competencies for leaders of today and tomorrow.

Defining leadership stance and translating into leadership brand.

Determining what leadership developments are needed and profile for the future.

Martin Luther King Jr. said on Leadership “A GOOD LEADER IS NOT A SEARCHER OF CONSENSUS BUT A MOLDER OF CONSESUS.”  The essence of this quotation is better demonstrated by the role played by the legendary NELSON MANDELA in the Rugby symbol story.  Black South Africans or should I say almost all the African National Congress (ANC) members wanted the South African Rugby Team symbol “The Springbok” to be changed as they regarded it a symbol of the apartheid regime, and MADIBA was totally against this change.  Those of you who are movie enthusiasts may recall that this was better displayed in a movie in which Morgan Freeman played Mandela.  The words, I remember which had the most impact on me or which stuck in mind from that movie is when Madiba said to a room full angry supporters “LET ME LEAD YOU.”

The most important aspect of this story in my view is not so much the argument of Mandela with his African National Congress colleagues about the Rugby symbol but it is about MADIBA using the RUGBY SYMBOL to drive his national agenda or vision forward, “RECONCILIATION”.  We know that reconciliation became a central point of Mr. Nelson Mandela’s leadership as the President of the Republic of South Africa.  In this particular case, that is the RUGBY SYMBOL debate, the South African public eventually understood where Nelson Madiba wanted to take them to as a nation.  One of the most topical issues in leadership circles demonstrated by in this story is “LEADERSHIP VISION” or desired direction.


The question for all of us as leaders here today is are we able as Mr. Nelson Mandela ably demonstrated in this story to carry or more importantly align those we lead to the direction we want them to go, in other words are we ready to lead when called for.


In trying to answer this question I thought I should refer to another quotation on the distinction between Leadership and leaders this time from David Ulrich and Norm Smallwood (2007) who stated that “Long term success, the kind that last generation after generation depends on making a critical distinction between leaders and leadership. A focus on Leaders emphasizes the personal qualities of the individual whereas a focus on leadership emphasizes the methods that secure the ongoing good of the firm.”


LEADERSHIP COMPETENCIES FOR LEADERS OF TODAY AND TOMORROW

Dave Ulrich and Smallwood said that they asked several companies to send to them their organization’s competency models that listed the unique characteristics that they sought in their leaders.  They removed the names of companies from each model.  During the workshop attended by representatives of the companies that sent the competency models, they asked these representatives to pick their company’s competency model list, but none of the representatives picked their organization’s list. 

Their conclusion was that companies rely on competency models that identify a set of generic traits (vision, direction, energy etc.), and then they (companies) try to find and build next generation of leaders that fit the model.  Ultich et al. (2007) called these competencies vanilla models that generate vanilla leadership.

In this day and age or should I say today every organization is trying to get the best out of its people especially leaders and as a result we all turn to ready-made competency models from leadership gurus and psychologists and try to fit their leaders into these competency models.

Competency models are generally focused more on behavior than results.  Even more important is the fact that most organizations that have competency models have taken the approach of defining each competency in terms of explaining how leaders are expected to behaviorally demonstrate it, but stop short of explaining why demonstrating such a competency has business relevance.

Effective competency models need to be tied to the organization’s future strategy.  They need to answer the question “given our future strategy, what knowledge, skills, and abilities should leaders possess”.  Some of the generic leadership competencies that apply to both leaders of today and tomorrow are:

Visionary – Good Leaders create the vision, a picture of where they want to take their organization.

Inspirational – Great Leaders inspire everyone to get behind the vision.

Strategic – Strategic Leaders are clear and directly face the strengths, and weaknesses of their organization, as well as their external opportunities and threats.

Tactical – Good Leaders are bottom-line oriented and communicate the results.  They thrive on numbers, figures and data.

Focused – Good Leaders achieve what they set out to do before launching new initiatives.

Persuasive – Good Leaders bring others to their point of view using logic, reason, emotion and the force of their personalities.  They motivate by persuasion rather than intimidation.

Likeable – Good Leaders are people-centric.  They display a high degree of emotional intelligence.

Decisive – Good Leaders can make decision quickly often with incomplete data.

Ethical – Good Leaders are direct and straight forward.  They set clear performance expectations and hold people accountable.  Principle-based Leadership.

Open-Feedback – Good Leaders are open and dedicated to lifelong learning.  They seek direct feedback.

DEFINING LEADERSHIP STANCE AND TRANSLATING INTO LEADERSHIP BRAND

Organizations can strengthen their leadership brand by translating what they stand for in the market place into a set of managerial behaviors.  Building a leadership Brand start with a clear brand statement similar to a mission statement that connects what the organization wants to be known for by its best customers with specific leadership skills and behaviors.  Just to demonstrate the building of a brand statement of a certain pharmaceutical company, it specified five qualities which are:


Leadership of the market- where they expected leaders to foster innovation by helping the organization collaborate with leading experts around the world and import the best ideas and research into the company.


Global reach-wanted leaders who would combine sensitivity to local culture with global vision to help meet customer demands anywhere in the world.


Building Partnership-they needed leaders who knew how to recruit and develop talent so that customers would view employees of the organization as experts who could help them solve problems
Integrity- they wanted leaders who could make sure that employees delivered products and services in time, every time and fulfill promises and meet targets.


Product affordability- wanted their leaders to be proficient at sourcing, and securing the highest possible productivity from the company assets.

DETERMINING WHAT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENTS ARE NEEDED AND PROFILE FOR THE FUTURE

A successful leadership development model should incorporate all elements of the leadership code (Ulrich and Smallwood, 2007).  Leadership code consists of:

Leaders must muster strategy- that is they need to have a point of reference about the future, and be able to position their organization for continued success with customers.

Leaders must be able to execute-meaning that they must be able to build organization’s systems that work, to deliver results, and make change happen.

Leaders must be able to manage today’s talent- that is they must know how to motivate, engage and communicate with employees.

Leaders must able to develop tomorrow’s talent- that is they must groom employees for future leadership.

Leaders must show personal proficiency- that is they must demonstrate ability to learn, act with integrity, exercise social and emotional intelligence, make bold decisions and engender trust.

Companies need develop their executives who demonstrate all perquisites of leadership.  Companies must regularly assess the abilities of their high potential managers and challenge their readiness for their next level.


CONCLUSION

Let me conclude by stating that as companies or organizations we need to develop our leadership competencies and qualities we require our leaders to exhibit on the work place based on our strategic plan or our desired direction.  We need to avoid vanilla type competencies since they do not give us a unique advantage over our competitors since they also have access to the same competencies.  It is also important to note that as we assess our leaders against the developed competencies that competencies are behavior based and may not necessarily be linked on performance or results.

This was a presentation made by Dr. Akolang Tombale, Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) on the 05th March 2015 at the – Leadership Development Conference – held at Cresta Lodge, Gaborone.

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Botswana to Become a Vaccinated Nation: Pandemic Anxiety Over?

30th March 2021

OSCAR MOTSUMI

This is a question that should seriously exercise the mind of every Botswana citizen and every science researcher, every health worker and every political leader political.

The Covid-19 currently defines our lives and poses a direct threat to every aspect and every part of national safety, security and general well-being. This disease has become a normative part of human life throughout the world.

The first part of the struggle against the murderous depredation of this disease was to protect personal life through restrictive health injunctions and protocols; the worst possibly being human isolation and masks that hid our sorrows and lamentations through thin veils. We suffered that humiliation with grace and I believe as a nation we did a great job.

Now the vaccines are here, ushering us into the second phase of this war against the plague; and we are asking ourselves, is this science-driven fight against Covid-19 spell the end of pandemic anxiety? Is the health nightmare coming to an end? What happy lives lie ahead? Is this the time for celebration or caution? As the Non State Actors, we have being struggling with these questions for months.

We have published our thoughts and feelings, and our research reviews and thorough reading of both the local and international impacts of this rampaging viral invasion in local newspapers and social media platforms.

More significantly, we have successfully organised workshops about the impact of the pandemic on society and the economy and the last workshop invited a panel of health experts, professionals, and public administers to advance this social dialogue as part of our commitment to the tripartite engagement we enjoy working with Government of Botswana, Civil Society and Development partners. These workshops are virtual and open to all Batswana, foreign diplomatic missions based in Gaborone, UN agencies located in Gaborone and international academic researchers and professional health experts and specialists.

The mark of Covid-19 on our nation is a painful one, a tragedy shared by the entire human race, but still a contextually painful experience. Our response is fraught with grave difficulties; limited resources, limited time, and the urgency to not only save lives but also avert economic ruin and a bleak future for all who survive. Several vaccines are already in the  market.

Parts of the world are already doing the best they can to trunk the pestilential march of this disease by rolling out mass-vaccinations campaigns that promise to evict this health menace and nightmare from their public lives. Botswana, like much of Africa, is still up in the disreputable, and, unenviable, preventative social melee of masked interactions, metered distances, contactless commerce.

We remain very much at the mercy of a marauding virus that daily runs amuck with earth shattering implications for the economy and human lives. And the battle against both infections and transmissions is proving to be difficult, in terms of finance, institutional capacities and resource mobilization. How are we prepared as government, and as citizens, to embrace the impending mass-vaccinations? What are the chances of us  succeeding at this last-ditch effort to defeat the virus? What are the most pressing obstacles?

Does the work of vaccines spell an end to the pandemic anxieties?

Our panellists addressed the current state of mass-vaccination preparedness at the Botswana national level. What resources are available? What are the financial, institutional and administrative operational challenges (costs and supply chains, delivery, distribution, administering the vaccine on time, surveillance and security of vaccines?) What is being done to overcome them, or what can be done to overcome them? What do public assessments of preparedness tell us at the local community levels? How strong is the political will and direction? How long can we expect the whole exercise to last? At what point should we start seeing tangible results of the mass-vaccination campaign?

They also addressed the challenges of the anticipated emerging Vaccinated Society. How to fight the myths of vaccines and the superstitions about histories of human immunizations? What exactly is being done to grow robust local confidence in the science of vaccinations and the vaccines themselves? More significantly, how to square these campaigns vis-vis personal rights, moral/religious obligations?

What messages are being sent out in these regards and how are Batswana responding? What about issues of justice and equality? Will we get the necessary vaccines to everyone who wants them? What is being done to ensure no deserving person is left behind?

They also addressed issues of health data. To accomplish this mass-vaccination campaign and do everything right we need accurate and complete data. Poor data already makes it very hard to just cope with the disease. What is being done to improve data for the mass-vaccination campaign? How is this data being collected, aggregated and prepared for real life situation/applications throughout Botswana in the coming campaign?

We know in America, for example, general reporting and treatment of health data at the beginning of vaccinations was so poor, so chaotic and so scattered mainstream newspapers like The Atlantic, Washington Post and the New York Times had to step in, working very closely with civil society organizations, to rescue the situation. What data-related issues are still problematic in Botswana?

To be specific, what kind of Covid-19 data is being taken now to ready the whole country for an effective and efficient mass-vaccination program?

Batswana must be made aware that the  end part of vaccination will just mark the beginning of a long journey to health recovery and national redemption; that in many ways Covid-19 vaccination is just another step toward the many efforts in abeyance to fight this health pandemic, the road ahead is still long and painful.

For this purpose, and to highlight the significance of this observation we tasked our panellists with  the arduous imperative of  analysing the impact of mass-vaccination on society and the economy alongside the pressing issues of post-Covid-19 national health surveillance and rehabilitation programs.

Research suggests the aftermath of Covid-19 vaccination is going to be just as difficult and uncertain world as the present reality in many ways, and that caution should prevail over celebration, at least for a long time. The disease itself is projected to linger around for some time after all these mass-vaccination campaigns unless an effort is made to vaccinate everyone to the last reported case, every nation succeeds beyond herd immunity, and cure is found for Covid-19 disease. Many people are going to continue in need of medications, psychological and psychiatric services and therapy.

Is Botswana ready for this long holdout? If not, what path should we take going into the future? The Second concern is , are we going to have a single, trusted national agency charged with the  mandate to set standards for our national health data system, now that we know how real bad pandemics can be, and the value of data in quickly responding to them and mitigating impact? Finally, what is being done to curate a short history of this pandemic? A national museum of health and medicine or a Public Health Institute  in Botswana is overdue.

If we are to create strong sets of data policies and data quality standards for fighting future health pandemics it is critical that they find ideological and moral foundations in the artistic imagery and photography of the present human experience…context is essential to fighting such diseases, and to be prepared we must learn from every tragic health incident.

Our panellists answered most of these questions with distinguished intellectual clarity. We wish Batswana to join us in our second Mass-vaccination workshop.

*Oscar Motsumi: Email:oscar.motsumi@gmail.com

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The women you see in the news matter. Here’s why

9th March 2021
Jane Godia

Jane Godia

Today is International Women’s Day – it’s a moment to think about how much better our news diet could be if inequities were eliminated. In 1995, when the curtains fell in one of the largest meetings that have ever brought women together to discuss women in development, it was noted that women and media remain key to development.

Twenty-six years later, the relevant “Article J” of the Beijing Platform for Action, remains unfulfilled. Its two strategic objectives with regard to Women and Media have not been met. They are
Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision-making in and through the media and new technologies of communication

Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.

Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, it’s an indictment on both media owners and civil society that women remain on the periphery of news-making. They cannot claim equal space in either the structures of newsrooms or in the content produced, be that as sources of news or as the subjects of reports. Indeed, the latest figures from WAN-IFRA’s Women in News Programme show just one in five voices in news belong to women*, be they as sources, as the author or as the main character of the news report.

Some progress was evident several years back, with stand-out women being named as chief executive officers, editors in chief, managing editors and executive editors. But these gains appear short lived in most media organisations. Excitement has turned to frustration as one-step forward has been replaced with three steps backwards. In Africa, the problem is acute. The decision-making tables of media organisations remain deprived of women and where there are women, they are surrounded by men.

Few women have followed in the footsteps of Esther Kamweru, the first woman managing editor in Kenya, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s standout women editors include Pamela Makotsi-Sittoni (Nation Media Group, Kenya), Barbara Kaija (New Vision, Uganda), Mary Mbewe (Daily Nation, Zambia), Margaret Vuchiri (The Monitor, Uganda), Joyce Shebe (Clouds, Tanzania), Tryphinah Dongwana (Weekend Post, Botswana), Joyce Mhaville (Independent Television -ITV, Tanzania) and Tuma Abdallah (Standard Newspapers,Tanzania). But they remain an exception.

The lack of balance between women and men at the table of decision making has a rollback effect on the content that is produced. A table dominated by men typically makes decisions that benefit men.

So today, International Women’s Day is a grim reminder that things are not rosy in the news business. Achieving gender balance in news and in the structure of media organisations remains a challenge. Unmet, it sees more than half of the population in our countries suffer the consequences of bias, discrimination and sexism.

The business of ignoring the other half of the population can no longer be treated as normal. It’s time that media leaders grasp the challenge, not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it also makes a whole lot of business sense: start covering women, give them space and a voice in news-making and propel them to all levels of decision making within your organisation.

We can no longer afford to imagine that it’s only men who make and sell the news and bring in the shillings to fund the media business. Women too are worthy newsmakers. In all of our societies, there are women holding decision making positions and who are now experts in once male-only domains such as engineers, doctors, scientists and researchers.

They can be deliberately picked out to share their perspectives and expertise and bring balance to the profile of experts quoted on our news pages. Media is the prism through which society sees itself and women are an untapped audience. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us embrace diversity, which yields better news content and business products, and in so doing eliminate sexism. We know that actions and attitudes that discriminate against people based on their gender is bad for business.

As media, the challenge is ours. We need to consciously embrace and reach the commitments made 26 years ago when the Beijing Platform for Action was signed globally. As the news consuming public, you have a role to play too. Hold your news organization to account and make sure they deliver balanced news that reflects the voices of all of society.

Jane Godia is a gender development and media expert who serves as the Africa Director of Women in News programme.  
WOMEN IN NEWS is WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

Jane Godia, Director, Africa, Women in News

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Why is the media so afraid to talk about sexual harassment?

9th March 2021

MELANIE WALKER

The eve of International Women’s Day presents an opportunity for us to think about gender equality and the long and often frustrating march toward societies that are truly equal.

As media, we are uniquely placed to drive forward this reflection and discussion. But while focusing on the challenges of gender in society, we owe it to our staff and the communities we serve to also take a hard look at the obstacles within our own organisations.

I’m talking specifically about the scourge of sexual harassment. It’s likely to have happened in your newsroom. It has likely happened to a member of your team. It happens to all genders but is disproportionately directed at women. It happens in every industry, regardless of country, culture or context. This is because sexual harassment is driven by power, not sex. Wherever you have imbalances in power, you have individuals who are at risk of sexual harassment, and those who abuse this power.

I’ve been sexually harassed. The many journalists and editors, friends and family members who I have spoken to over the years on this subject have also been harassed. Yet it is still hard for leaders to recognize that this could be happening within their newsrooms and boardrooms. Why does it continue to be such a taboo?

Counting the cost of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is, simply put, bad for business. It can harm your corporate reputation. It is a drain on the productivity of staff and managers. Maintaining and building trust in your brand is an absolute imperative for media organisations globally. If and when a case gets out of control or is badly handled – this can directly impact your bottom line.

It is for this reason that WAN-IFRA Women in News has put eliminating sexual harassment as a top priority in our work around gender equality in the media sector. This might seem at odds with the current climate where social interactions are fewer and remote work scenarios are in place in many newsrooms and businesses. But one only needs to tune into the news to know that the abuse of power, manifested as verbal, physical or online harassment, is alive and well.

Preliminary results from an ongoing Women in News research study into the issue of sexual harassment polling hundreds of journalists in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia indicate that more than 1 in 3 women media professionals have been physically harassed, and just under 50% have been verbally harassed. Just over 15% of men in African newsrooms reported being physically harassed, and slightly less than 1 in 4 reports being verbally harassed. The numbers for male media professionals in Southeast Asia are slightly higher than a quarter on both forms of harassment.

The first step in confronting sexual harassment is to talk about it. We need to strip away the stigma and discomfort around having open conversations about what sexual harassment is and isn’t. Media managers, it is entirely in your power to create dynamics in your own teams that are free from sexual harassment.

Publishers and CEOs, you set the organisational culture in your media company.

By being vocal in recognising that it happens everywhere, and communicating to your employees that you will not tolerate sexual harassment of any kind, you send a powerful message to your teams, and publicly. With these actions, you will help us overcome the legacy of silence around this topic, and in doing so take an important first step to create media environments that truly embrace equality.

Melanie Walker is Executive Director of Media Development of the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). She is a creator of Women in News, WAN-IFRA’s ground-breaking programme to increase women’s leadership and voices in the news. It does so by equipping women journalists and editors with the skills, strategies, and support networks to take on greater leadership positions within their media. www.womeninnews.org

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