A Boss That Keeps Making A Difference
DUNCAN STEWART, Managing Director at Lima Rural Development Foundation in Pietermaritzburg, was awarded one of the top seven positions for the National Boss of the Year® Award 2013. The award aims to identify and reward the people who are getting leadership right in the current workplace scenario and business climate.
It identifies the many unsung heroes and heroines who use their positions of power to empower others in achieving career success. The award pays tribute to those who understand that the success of their staff is in direct proportion to their own success as leaders.
“A key objective of the Boss of the Year® Award is to pay tribute to leaders in the workplace who see people as the primary assets and invest in them. A contemporary boss is enlightened and values bottom-up input and insights,” says Ornella Trinco, of Dictum Publishers, founders of the Award.
This year, local Boss, Duncan Stewart, has been identified as one of seven of these leaders mentioned. The “Boss of the Year” award demonstrates the massive difference Duncan is making, not only in rural development, but in the lives of the hundreds of staff he has impacted on and mentored. He is constantly ensuring that communities and individuals are uplifted and developed, not because it is his job, but because it is his longing to eradicate poverty. He started Lima Rural Development Foundation because he was passionate about assisting those less fortunate than himself, and to make a difference in rural development in South Africa. This ambition is followed through in his management style and the respect and guidance he shows his employees.
We asked Duncan a few questions to understand what makes him a great leader in the rural development sector:
1. In your opinion: What have you done for your “people” that you believe makes a difference to their working life?
We have created an environment and “space” where people can express themselves and provide their own style. People are treated as rational mature adults, given their job objectives and then the freedom to express themselves. Staff are informed that career planning is a joint responsibility. A career is more than work, it is an important part of your lifestyle, having fun is as important as getting the job done. Personal fulfilment and self-confidence are important drivers in productivity, and loyalty.
2. As a captain of a ship (as it were) how do you handle the ‘storms’ that come your way, in terms of the impact that these will have on your people?
The success and growth of the company is directly related to the efforts and dedication of its entire staff. Together we are responsible for where we are today and more importantly where we will be in the future. Job and company security is each of our individual responsibilities. Good times and bad times are shared and a team solution is found to the difficulties. Every effort is put into recruiting the right person for the job, as the staff defines the company.
3. Who influences you? What have you learned from them about leading?
My parents values of fun, enjoyment, hard work and fairness in society, have guided my leadership style. The dreams and visions of poor rural communities define our future agenda and from them we take our lead. Conventional processes are often designed for control and risk reduction. We are constantly looking at developing alternative human centred processes that have a positive impact on the poor as well as economic and human resource development.
4. What do you think bosses in SA in general still need to learn to improve working climates?
A bureaucratic working climate based on fear and negative discipline as well as monitoring every movement rather than the outputs really stifles innovation and initiative. Top down authoritarian approaches start with the premise that the elite know what is best for society. Decentralised people driven approaches that are based on aspirations and visions are far more efficient. Modern successful societies allow more freedom and flexibility in the work place creating space for people to show initiative and innovation.