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A leader should be on top of the game

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The environment has been changing rapidly in the last decade. To survive in business you now need adept leadership. You need leaders who possess certain skills that will enable them to traverse the ever changing economic terrain.
We are living in a digital age where developments in information technology have changed the way business is done. A delay in adapting to the environment can easily spell doom for hitherto big business.

Leadership is the process of influencing others. As a leader you need to be able to influence your team to follow your vision. The task of a leader is made even more complex because the environment in which he is expected to make decisions is complex, uncertain, very unstable and decisions are mostly of a long-term nature and are affected by the external environment.
An effective leader needs to possess at least the following skills and qualities.

An effective leader should demonstrate a dogged determination to see his vision achieved. He should have such energy to motivate him to achieve his goals. He should therefore be loyal to his vision and this should be seen as he walks the talk. His words and actions should be consistent with each other.
The leader should communicate his vision very convincingly and more often to ensure that every employee buys into the vision and understands what the leader aims to achieve, As he sells his vision or ideas, he should seek for consent rather than be seen to be pushy or coercive.

Effective leaders keep themselves updated of current developments in the environment. They have to constantly scan the environment for opportunities and threats or for any developing trends that require attention. So it’s important that a leader does not only develop skills in his particular area of speciality but has a wider outlook on issues.
A leader should have compassion. He should understand the feelings of his subordinates and the impact of his decisions on their lives. He should therefore think before he acts.
He should also be friendly and sociable. By adopting these qualities, a leader will cultivate a culture of cooperativeness within his team which will raise their performance.
A research carried out at Wharton School, involving more than 20 000 executives, identified other six key skills that leaders should have and use if they have to navigate the changing economic environment effectively.

The six skills are: anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, align, and learn. The researchers concluded that these factors should not be applied in isolation but together.
A leader should be able to anticipate and detect any ambiguous threats and opportunities on the side-lines of his business. A lot of leaders have lost market share because they did not pay attention to developing threats which initially looked benign but proved later to be dangerous.

Leaders should therefore develop their ability to anticipate change by scanning the environment for signals of change. One can achieve this by constantly talking to customers, suppliers, and other business partners to pick any trends coming. Scenario planning is mostly used to determine future trends that are likely to impact on businesses. Or better still an organisation can carry out research to understand what the customers’ needs are and what products the competition is bringing to the market.
The second factor that was raised from the research is that as a leader you should challenge the status quo. Leaders should regularly challenge their own and others’ assumptions and they should encourage divergent points of view.

They should only make a decision after having looked at the problem from different angles.
The leader should be questioning long standing business assumptions by encouraging debate on these issues even if there might be divergent views. Ask people who are not affected by the decision and get their input.

The leader makes decisions in a complex environment sometimes with inadequate information and some of this information could be conflicting. It’s therefore very critical that a leader is able to interpret this complex and conflicting information.
One should be able to synthesise all the input and recognise certain patterns and seek new insights. When analysing data it’s important to ask other people’s perspectives or you need to have undisturbed reflection on an issue and try to consider different options.

After interpreting the data decision makers may have to make quick tough calls albeit with incomplete information. It’s very important that during the decision making process you consider a number of options to avoid being simplistic in decision making.
The fifth skill raised in the research that leaders need to have is ensuring that they align their goals with other stakeholders.

One should find common ground between other stakeholders and achieve buy-in among stakeholders who might have divergent views. It’s very important you communicate regularly with your stakeholders and keep them in the loop before making decisions. This helps in building trust.
As a leader you need to identify key internal and external stakeholders and identify their interests and power in the issue at hand.

Through discussions you can identify any possible misunderstandings which can raise resistance. Try to get as much support from the stakeholders before implementation of the strategy.
The last skill is that both the leader and the organisation should be open to learning new things. A leader should develop and promote a culture of inquiry and making mistakes and learn from such.

The leader should ensure that there are reviews after projects or after implementing strategies to ensure that there are lessons learnt from these projects. A leader should reward a culture in which inquiry is valued and mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities.
As a leader you need to examine whether you possess and are utilising the above skills. This will ensure the business strategies will be successful.

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship.
He is the Managing Consultant of Shekina Consulting (Pty) Ltd and provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, corporate governance, preparation of business plans, tender documents and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.
For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: sjakarasi@gmail.com, call on +266 58881062 or WhatsApp +266 62110062 .

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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