GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Phumla Nyathikazi, the socio-economic officer for the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park, has just completed an innovative leadership course through the African Intergenerational Leadership Hub (AIGLH) Programme.
The course was done at the Southern African Wildlife College. The Wilderness section of the GRNP includes areas such as Swartvlei, Farleigh, Myoli Beach, Jubilee Creek and the Goudveld area.
Nyathikazi says her favourite part of the programme was "collab", an attempt to understand the motivation driving partnerships.
"This part of the programme encourages lateral thinking and pushes participants to find fresh ways of working with difficult stakeholders."
Nyathikazi says the programme first challenged her own way of doing things, before progressing to her area of work at SANParks.
There is a module on personal growth as a prerequisite to challenging culture, which includes self-awareness.
"I found this was important in understanding strengths when attempting to find solutions to challenges. Solutions would need a culture change and fresh approaches to work with a wide array of stakeholders."
Funded by the Mava Foundation, Swiss-based and established in 1994 by Luc Hoffmann, the programme is a collaboration between the Southern African Wildlife College, Common Purpose and the Environmental Sustainability Agency to support better conservation practices and outcomes by improving leadership skills in the sector.
Common Purpose has run similar programmes in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean region, with Mava's support enabling the programme's implementation in the African continent.
Dr Elsbeth Dixon, chief executive director of Common Purpose, says the programme is deliberately set for both senior and junior leaders to maximise intergenerational learning.
"We often request chief executive officers to choose a pair of candidates from conservation organisations. Thus far, they have made choices that are gender conscious, leading to a 40:60 ratio of women representation in the programme," she notes.
The programme is still fairly new in South Africa, having started in 2020.
"It is designed to allow current and future leaders to challenge the norm, equipping leaders to tackle challenges differently. It is no wonder then, that modules in the programme deviate from the normal business school rhetoric and include leading beyond authority, cultural intelligence, intergenerational coaching and negotiation skills."
Nyathikazi says she now sees intergenerational coaching in a different light and its significance in retaining and advancing organisational knowledge.
Dr Sandra Taljaard, park manager of Wilderness and Nyathikazi's direct supervisor, says, "Phumla was part of the first group of many young leaders SANParks will hopefully be sending to the course. She was chosen for the course due to her close interaction with the large range of stakeholders in the Wilderness section of the park. Stakeholders are key to the sustainable management of the park and central to the vision of SANParks."
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