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Thread: Why is not African

  1. #1
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    Why is not African

    Watching a television programme on the hiring methods of Google, the company who managed to make their name a verb in the English dictionary within a few short years, I realised how unlikely it was that they could be African. Google’s approach is to hire people who disagree with them. They believe that this will stimulate debate, constantly introduce new ideas and motivate people. So far, it seems to be working.

    You see, in Africa, we have been raised to be obedient to the senior authority of the household or community. Our schools teach us to be respectful of teachers, and, later in life, not to question managers, as they are after all, more senior. We have to be seen as being loyal to those for whom we work, and vote for them, even though they are obviously making incorrect choices, and in the worst case scenarios, we are forced to show loyalty.

    It is highly unlikely that any African leader, or manager, would actively go out and seek those that are opposed to his/her way of thinking and employ them on this basis. To the contrary we would exclude such candidates on the basis that we did not think that they could be team players. Certainly we would exclude a candidate from employment if we did not think that they would accept us as the team captain.

    But no progress has ever been brought about by accepting the present as being perfect and immutable!
    The biggest gift that mavericks, people opposed to our way of thinking, and others who disagree with what we say, give us, is the gift of dissent.

    So why are we not surrounding ourselves with people who disagree with us? Why do we not have 4 or 5 strong opposition parties, why do we not welcome conflict in the workplace? Why do we insist on hiring those that think pretty much like we do? Is it not time to learn from Google?

    Politically, President Mandela and President De Klerk were phenomenal, they formed an alliance of sorts – neither gentleman, nor any of their followers were ever bosom buddies (I don’t think) – yet with the common goal of achieving the transformation of South Africa, they were incredibly effective. The biggest and most significant strides in South African history were taken during these times.

    Sit up and pay attention, fellow Africans – if we want to play big, we need to realise that growth, success and achievement of goals means inclusion, not exclusion. It means welcoming diversity, not being afraid of it. It means actively seeking controversial approaches, not fobbing them off. It means stepping outside of our comfort zones.

    Now who’s with me?

    © Debbie Engelbrecht, 18th April 2008


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  2. #2
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    It's all very well having dissenting voices - they still need to be batting for the team (rather than just themselves and to hell with the team).

    Hiring a bunch of mavericks is only part of the solution. Having leadership at a level that can have them work towards a common cause in another entirely.

    Weak leaders surround themselves with followers. The great leaders manage to attract leaders. And therein lies our problem. Weak leaders.

  3. #3
    Silver Member Norri's Avatar
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    Debs, that's my goal now. I'm about to hire 2 ladies who I know would be loyal to me but who also disagree with me here and there. I think the key to sustainable growth is including different perspectives and opinions in your plan.

    Tanya (my new wife ) disagrees with me all the time and it's in those times that I choose to pay her differing viewpoints some serious attention that I grow exponentially!

    Of course, though, as Dave said, we need to be sure our people are still batting for the same team as us!
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