During the first week of  February, two FABIans, Drs Mahlane Godfrey Kgatle and Miekie Human attended the first of three sessions of the “Leadership in the Connection Economy Programme”. The programme is certified and quality controlled by the NWU Business School and presented by thinking fusion AFRICA under the custodianship of Grain SA and sponsorship of Syngenta.

The organisers believe that the future of agriculture should be shaped rather than left to chance. Therefore, they tailor-made this leadership development programme to empower and equip a new generation of leaders (growers, researchers and industry role players) in agricultureso they are able to address the challenges in the sector at local, regional and national level.

Numerous topics were covered during the first week-long session. Firstly, Project ME: learning through reflection. Reflection by journaling allows the possibility of learning through experience, whether that is the experience of a meeting, a project, a disaster, a success. Secondly, “Learning agility: a key indicator to future leadership success.” Learning agility is a complex set of skills that allows us to learn something in one situation and apply it in a completely different situation. It is about gathering patterns from one context then using those patterns in a completely new context. Thirdly, Project US: repositioning myself with my team.

The fourth topic was Project WE: for developing system thinking skills for (dis)solving complexity. Systems thinking in practice encourages us to explore inter-relationships (context and connections), perspectives (each actor has their own unique perception of the situation) and boundaries (agreeing on scope, scale and what might constitute an improvement).The fifth topic was, “The connection economy”. The world is no longer seen as a machine, but a connection of dynamic relationships where networks dominate. The connection economy rewards value created by building relationships and fostering connections, rather than assets and “stuff,” like the industrial economy. The industrial economy values more, better, faster, whereas the connection economy builds on who you know, what you know and how that knowledge influences your connections.

The sixth topic was Project YOU: coaching a mentee. Coaching allows mentees to find their own answers, and also creates an environment within which the mentee makes clear distinctions about the current reality, create options, and most importantly - take action because the solution is theirs. The last topic that was covered was “The art of leading: leadership vs management”. Management consists of controlling a group or a set of entities to accomplish a goal. Leadership refers to an individual's ability to influence, motivate, and enable others to contribute toward organizational success.

Godfrey and Miekie expressed their appreciation to the presenters Rene Uys and Harry van der Merwe for guiding them through the content, and to the organisers, Syngenta, Grain SA and thinking fusion AFRICA for making this learning experience possible.