Leadership development is critical in advancing the environmental sector. That is the message that GreenMatter, the WRC and DSI focused on as they hosted the WRC Water Fellowship Insights event.
This event took place on Wednesday, 16th of March on Zoom, to celebrate the completion of its third cohort of postgraduate Fellows. The Fellowship Programme is an innovative partnership of GreenMatter, the Water Research Commission (WRC), the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Affairs (DFFE). It aims to strengthen technical and social competencies, develop skills, provide a comprehensive career path, and connect the emerging leaders to a network of peers, mentors, and role models at sectoral levels.
Dr Roderick Juba, a former GreenMatter Fellow, facilitated the event. Buyani Zwane, the GreenMatter Board Chairperson, provided an insightful presentation highlighting the role of leadership development in the South African Water Sector. Shanna Nienabar, the WRC Water Research, Development & Innovation Roadmap Programme Manager, and Dr Henry Roman, DSI Director: Environmental Services and Technology, both gave knowledgeable and inspiring presentations about what the water sector needs from its postgraduate students. Following that was a panel discussion in which four graduating Fellows, Slyvester Malekeng, Lohan Brendenhann, Kopano Moekwena, and Mendy Ndlovu provided frank assessments and reflections, giving us a sense of where we have performed well and how we might improve in the future. The GreenMatter Acting Director of Programmes, Duncan Hay, provided a warm closing and thanks. This was then followed by the graduation ceremony for the graduating fellows led by Moshadi Mashangoane.
This event was a very enjoyable and insightful experience. To highlight five important lessons that emerged.
1. Make Excellence a Standard
Buyani Zwane highlighted that we must make excellence and winning a standard! He stated that we are too often told that is it okay to be just above average. However, in a situation where you are undergoing a serious medical procedure, you would not want a doctor who is just above average. When you are boarding an aeroplane, you would not want pilots that are just above average. They do not fly an aeroplane into the sky unless they can perform excellently. Therefore, in our leadership development programme as GreenMatter, we seek to bring through the habit of excellence within our fellows! Click here to access Buyani Zwane’s slides.
2. Skills Demand in the Water Sector
Shanna Nienaber from the Water Research Commission presented very insightful slides of the types of skills that industry is seeking within the water sector! The skills that she listed are in three groups:
You may find these slides by clicking here.
3. You are a Project Manager of yourself
Have you ever heard the saying that life is a Do-It-Yourself project? These are the sentiments that Dr Henry Roman, expressed during a personal reflection.
“When you do a Master’s or a Ph.D. you are a project manager, albeit of yourself”
You learn the skills of managing your time and managing your resources, you learn to understand the type of study you are doing and how to go about it.
4. Leadership is Influence
“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”
- John Maxwell (author of The Law of Influence)
Buyani Zwane expressed very important sentiments regarding influence. Leadership development is about how we influence people inside and outside of the environmental sector, to see the value that this sector provides. We can have a positive or negative influence in this regard; however, it is important to ensure that we have a positive influence. This is the reason we seek to attract to the sector, true winners!
5. The Impact of the GreenMatter Fellowship
The panel discussion involving past GreenMatter fellows was very insightful, and it highlighted the impact that this fellowship provides its beneficiaries. Kopano Moekwena stated that the GreenMatter fellowship really helped her to strive. She was able to apply project management skills, induce group work ethic and she was able to use her knowledge and skills to make a difference. Sylevester Malekeng was inspired by the soft skills training to reflect on “why are we doing what we are doing and why should we continue doing things the way we are now, and what changes do we need to make?” Mendy Ndlovu stated that she obtained various soft skills, and she has been building on them. Lohan Brendenhann highlighted emotional intelligence as a very important skill he learned within the fellowship. He stated that understanding this term and how to use it, it made him understand how to better manage interpersonal relationships between co-workers.
These are just a highlight of various lessons that were learned during this seminar. To watch the full event, click here (passcode: 1@Dj?RrN). If you attended the event, be sure to drop some comments and let us know what lessons you learned from this event!
Environmental Youth for the Future!
You are what you repeatedly do! Your habits, therefore, determine your character. In our previous blog post, we talked about how to build habits for career success! If you did not read our previous blog post, you may read it here. Now that you know how to build habits, let's talk about which habits to build if you seek to be an effective leader! If you have been part of any team then you will know that some leaders are effective, and others simply aren’t. Effective leaders provide guidance, inspiration, and direction to produce better outcomes for their teams. Are you an effective leader?
If you do not consider yourself an effective leader, do not feel discouraged. Leadership is a skill, and it can be honed! Your habits play an important role when it comes to honing your leadership skills! Below, are 5 habits that you build, that will help you become a more effective leader!
“Effective leadership is the only competitive advantage that will endure. That's because leadership has two sides - what a person is (character) and what a person does (competence)”
1. The Habit of Excellence!
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
This quote by Aristotle is a great reminder, that excellence is a habit! It is important to cultivate this habit because as an effective leader, you provide guidance and direction. Therefore, if you do not have the habit of excellence, how will you inspire your team to be excellent? When excellence is a habit, it manifests itself in everything that you do. We can get fooled into thinking that excellence comes with shiny awards and extravagant accolades, but excellence is essentially who you are.
2. Pitch Up, Be Organized, and Engage!
Life is full of distractions; this is especially true if you are a leader. Imagine a situation in which you are attending a conference where the top scientists or business leaders are gathered, and you are set to learn a lot and be inspired by them! During this conference, you receive a call that requires your attention, in which there is an emergency at the office. Now instead of attending the conference, you are spending your time advising on how best to engage with this unhappy client. This is not to say that the client is not important, however, you have now missed a golden opportunity for learning and growing your network. It is important as a leader, to always pitch up and be present so that you may take advantage of each opportunity. Always be organized and engaged wherever you are. In this situation, it would be helpful to train your team in a manner that will allow them to operate without you, this allows you to be present, prepared, and engaged, without having to worry about.
3. The Habit of Action!
Here is a question for you; 3 frogs are sitting on a log, 2 decide to jump into the water, how many are left?
Did you answer 1? Well, that is one way of looking at it. The other way of looking at it is that there are 3 frogs left, the other 2 just took a decision and acted on it! There is a difference between deciding and doing. As a leader you will spend a lot of time deciding on things, however, decisions have absolutely no impact in the real world, you have to act on your decisions! Fear can prevent us from taking action, however, effective leaders know that growth cannot happen when one stays in their comfort zone.
4. The Habit of Persistence
“The habit of persistence is the habit of victory"
Persistence is perhaps one of the most admirable qualities a leader can have. A lot of people have the capacity to have a vision and set goals towards their vision, however, only a few get to accomplish their vision because they lack persistence. If, as a leader, you do not have the habit of persistence, your team loses its significance. A leader that does not have this habit, is not likely to achieve success.
5. The Habit of Listening!
Listening is a core communication skill and it is fundamental for effective leadership! As a leader, you can only improve if you are open to feedback, this requires you to have adopted the habit of listening. It is important that you improve your listening skills so you may become fully immersed in what your team members have to say, this fosters an environment of psychological safety and this is the differentiating factor in high-performance teams. Failure to adopt the habit of listening leads to mistrust, and misaligned strategies.
Now that you know the 5 habits for successful leaders, you may use our guide on cultivating good habits, to cultivate these habits in your own life. This will take you a step closer to becoming the effective leader that you want to be!
Environmental Youth for the Future!