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Watch Wednesday – Botswana Earth Shift

At 8 am today there was an earth shift in Botswana. Some will not have noticed it but many did, and it has huge significance to the tourism industry in our country. It happened like this. At Great Plains meetings, ‘Early’ is on time and ‘On time’ is late, so at 1 minute to 8 am I sent a note that our call was starting. 

At the meeting, I announced news of a new Great Plains Botswana Managing Director appointment and introduced that person. In our small company, I watch staff turnover and use it as an indicator of how well we are treating people, and our turnover is way below industry standard, multiples lower actually. So when Dorian Hoy, outgoing Managing Director decided to venture out on his own, after 13 dedicated and loyal years that was not a surprise. We wish him well. When someone has invested so long, so much of their lives in a company, we celebrate the time that person has lent us.

Filling that position with someone who fully grasps the culture of our people in Botswana, the culture of Great Plains, the very DNA of our vision at first appeared daunting, but today, I was delighted to appoint Daphne Kadiwa to that MD position.

As I listened to Daphne address ‘her’ staff I knew I’d made the right decision. Only after making the selection a few weeks ago did I realize what we’d done. We’d just appointed the very first Motswana woman into this position in any company in the history of Botswana in tourism. While that may be amazing, and it is, it is also quite shocking.

This sends a signal to all our staff and all communities that we are involved with that women and girls of our country can do anything that they put their minds to. They can rise to political office or run a company like Great Plains. They can guide or do anti-poaching, fly or manage teams of over 200 as Daphne will now do.  Women in our circle can be Solar Mamas as the group that we recently sponsored to go to India for education did, or develop their own businesses, be astronauts and they can all change the world.

I usually look to the wild for inspiration and of course, the lionesses of a pride are the first analogy to lean on but in fact, it is probably elephants that I most admire and find inspirational as they move gently but firmly through their world, nurturing but setting the direction, respecting the will of others with empathy, grace, trust, and understanding, stopping to listen carefully, and only then deciding. The matriarchs lead effortlessly, allowing a casual flow where each can express themselves but still work as a herd, and yet leadership is clear. They tolerate, and even engage, in play, and playfulness, have the ability to learn to paint and appreciate music in certain places and understand the subtle difference between one food source and it’s benefits in one season and yet avoid the same food source a few weeks later. Elephants do that because they carry the future of the whole herd on their shoulders.

There is a deep intelligence amongst them and it’s one I appreciate. So, as I was looking to build our leadership team, with Sharon Unwin, I renewed my thoughts on leadership by looking at elephants again.

So the earth shifted today.