Is there truly a shortage of new leadership talent to cultivate Do concepts such as self-discipline, loyalty, work ethic, integrity and living according to values – not to mention good labour relations, mutual trust and respect – belong to the past

Ample disappointments have shown that such challenges have no instant solutions. If you are reading this article, you have probably been involved in one or other form of supervisor and manager development and you will realise that apart from the cost of training, it does not necessarily add value to your enterprise’s ‘raison d’être’.

Late in the second half of 2012 seven companies took a decision, inconspicuously, to accept the challenge of a launch project in collaboration with Winetech to determine whether an intrinsic difference could be made with regard to new leaders – one that would add value in a win-win situation. Altogether 15 students were selected, based mainly on the ‘belief’ of their managers that they had the required potential to grow. As a result we gathered a widely divergent group, some of whom had lots of management experience and others with none whatsoever, their ages ranging from 24 to early forties. Matric was preferable, but not a prerequisite for admission. It was nevertheless a prerequisite that each student would have an assigned, willing coach/mentor and they furthermore had to complete an applicable work session beforehand, as well as attend interim sessions with the project leaders.

The generic management qualification (SAQA #57712; NQF 4) would serve as a guideline in conjunction with material from Sims Khula Training and be presented as a skills programme across 10 modules. This meant that any number of modules could be completed for credits and that students would find it easy to leave the programme and/or join in. However, only those who successfully completed all 10 modules would receive the qualification.

Modules offered:

  • Intro to management & leadership
  • Business strategy
  • Quality: Risk & stock
  • Intro to business finance
  • Meeting management
  • Human resources management
  • Customer service
  • Business writing skills
  • Managing HIV/AIDS in workplace
  • Negotiation & presentation skills.

Although the study material was in English, the mother tongue of the intake was Afrikaans, therefore facilitation was in Afrikaans.

Ontwikkeling1
Students who attended the course: Front: Tamsyn Albertus, Jessica Alexander, Allison le Grange and Lavern Hoffman. Middle: Marion Damon, Clife Radloff, Monica Olivier, Pieter Viljoen (Sims Khula Training), Dolf Marang, Maralyn Jacobs, Marlyn Smidt and Francois Samuels. Back: Kearston Dowé and Denzel-Jonathan Swarts. Absent: Joseph Muller and Chantel Abrahams.
Groupwork at Bergkelder, Stellenbosch. Groupwork at Delheim, Stellenbosch.

 

Results

Ten students successfully completed their qualification and the others will have the option and the opportunity to complete it in the course of 2015. For the first time in their lives four of the 10 successful students now have an official Grade 12 qualification and consequently they qualify for admission to further their studies at tertiary institutions. It is my sincere wish that these 10 students will have the opportunity to follow a management programme at the business school of a local university.

What may be considered critical factors for success

  • Students could only be enrolled if their company appointed a coach/mentor for each student. This mentor had to receive applicable training and had to be available and involved on an ongoing basis.
  • The programme unrolled over a two-year period, which ensured longer term involvement and would therefore facilitate the opportunity to learn new habits.
  • Students were encouraged to share their knowledge (wherever) and assist each other. They gathered on their own on a regular basis during the practical periods of each module.
  • Camaraderie among the students developed spontaneously, but even more important was that they started to assume ownership themselves, inter alia for cultivating a culture of learning and nurturing a positive, supportive, problem solving attitude in themselves and among each other.
  • The application of acquired knowledge and the consistent practice of values and discipline in their own lives, at home, in their work and their communities were encouraged throughout and tested using examples.
  • The following was expected of the students who completed the full qualification successfully:

– A final panel interview during which students had to offer proof of application in the workplace and furthermore show sufficient grasp of acquired knowledge and skills.
– A special value building session was held at VinPro which the students once again had to implement in their work, at home and in the community.

The students who have just completed the full qualification say, inter alia: “I am able to work with more self-confidence than ever, not only with my team but also with my senior managers.”; “Good relationships with my workers and management play a bigger role.”; “I think there is truly a place for the programme in the wine industry. The role of mentors can be even greater.”; “My focus was to grow and make a difference, but now I am proud as well, because my management can trust me with greater responsibility.”; “My communication with all levels has improved dramatically, and impacts positively on relationships in general.”

We would heartily recommend that readers contact any of the graduates and their mentors for their opinion and/or advice. Names of students, in no specific order, are: Denzel Swarts, Simonsig; Allison le Grange, DelVera; Francois Samuels, Mario Damon, Tamlyn Albertus and Lavern Hoffman, DGB; Kearston Dowé, Rupert & Rothschild; Jessica Alexander, Fairview; Monica Olivier, Distell and Joseph Muller, Meerlust.

The process was not without its fair share of challenges and lessons. Four students had to be replaced and one could not finish everything in the allotted time. Senior managers’ available time to assist students was very limited and unfortunately management does not always have all the necessary knowledge and experience to assist new leaders properly. This could well be a bigger shortcoming than one would like to admit and therefore the matter should be addressed by the industry, unless we simply accept that the gap between top management and the rest will get progressively bigger. The saying holds true: “If we continue to do the same things year after year, we cannot expect anything but the same results.”

Patrick Lencioni points out that a healthy business may be measured against two components of success, namely “smart and healthy”. He finds that most businesses are sufficiently ‘smart’, in other words their structure and systems in respect of strategies, markets, finance and technology are largely in place. Perhaps because these are easily quantifiable The allusion to ‘healthy’ refers to the presence of “little politicising and confusion, while the morale and productivity are high”. This may sound like a difficult, protracted intervention, or could it simply be the establishment of good relationships, disciplines and values, or is it our obligation and part of a purposeful life on earth

There is undoubtedly a place for academic leadership models, but over the past two years it has been proven that the basis for a winning recipe consists of good relationships, enthusiasm and sustained discipline (soft on people and tough on standards), combined with the supportive involvement of management. A heartfelt thanks to all the dedicated coaches and mentors in our industry – the ordinary managers who fulfil this role with passion in addition to all their other obligations!

Test your business and personal readiness and preparedness to apply some of the elements mentioned below:

  • Do we know what the new generation leaders should look like
  • Am I prepared to assume ownership and take calculated “higher” risks to lead in collaboration with the next generation leaders
  • Does my middle and senior management team make time and are they able to lead by involving new leaders in decisions on a daily basis, by showing them how, by establishing and building foundations, by supporting them throughout and by setting an example via their attitude and values

Are you prepared for new leaders to measure you, their senior, against the questions below

  • Am I sufficiently and visibly involved and given the opportunity, even if it is simply as an observer, to accompany senior management to meetings and other occasions
  • Am I treated throughout with dignity and respect
  • Do I feel part of a multi-generation team that is committed to the company’s vision, objectives and values
  • Am I trusted – also with new opportunities (sometimes allowed, as an inexperienced new leader, like a ‘David against Goliath’, to handle new situations)
  • Do I get sufficient feedback and acknowledgement

In conclusion we can say: “A successful process demands sustained involvement and good relationships on an ongoing basis.” The effort is very gratifying, however, because it adds value quickly and the win-win situation is rewarding for all involved.

The students who are now receiving their qualification should therefore benefit from further exposure, support and training. Even at a University Business School, where exposure will take place together with other corporate managers, including sustained training and mentorship in the workplace.

Where senior management follows a kind of ‘serving leadership’ approach, new leaders will soon burgeon and assume increasing responsibility, also to improve their own reading and cypher abilities, as well as bring innovation and productivity to the table on an ongoing basis as an esteemed member of the management team.

There are many opportunities in our industry to unlock the talents of new leaders, even middle management. The question is whether I, as owner, and my senior management team, are prepared to commit ourselves to such a process.

Students who have not yet been able to finish, because they joined the training cycle at a later stage, will have the opportunity to continue in 2015. We will nevertheless have to bring in new students to be able to further pursue the process in a cost-effective way. This presents an opportunity for additional participants (students and coaches/mentors) to grow together and influence the existing culture and climate in their companies to positive effect.

The opportunity, which was created by Winetech, could not have taken place were it not for funding by the AgriSETA and participating businesses. A heartfelt thanks especially to all the coaches and mentors who contributed splendidly to the success of the launch programme.

“It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

– Alfred Adler

For enquiries contact Gerard Martin at marting@winetech.co.za, or Pieter Viljoen at pieterv@simskhula.co.za

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