As a follow up on trainings with female workers from the two SEKEM companies ISIS Organic and NatureTex in 2015 in the context of the project “Empowering Women for a Balanced Society“, another workshop was offered to 50 SEKEM co-workers on “Leadership and Communication Skills”. The training was held on the SEKEM Farm, where the factories of the two major companies of SEKEM are located.
“Through the workshop, I recognized the difference between a leader and a boss”, says Fatheya Fathy Ibrahim, one of SEKEMs employees at the packaging department of ISIS Organic. “A true leader is able to create a comfortable environment for his team to fulfill innovation and efficient production”, she tells. During each session of the four days-workshop the members of the two teams from ISIS Organic and NatureTex were divided randomly into groups. The sessions included a lot of activities with the aim of developing skills in listening, asking questions and resolving conflicts. Hence, the employees have been assisted in broadening their horizons and developing the ability for social leadership.
Overcoming communication barriers
Two days of the workshop were allocated to show the attendees various kinds and methods of communication. “It is necessary to communicate smoothly, especially during critical times”, says Mahmoud Al-Bendary, Local Sales Manager at NatureTex, SEKEMs company for Organic textiles. Like most of SEKEMs decision-makers, Mahmoud has to deal everyday with setting up plans and meeting deadlines, thus pressure and conflicts arise easily. “This workshop revealed to me different perspectives and ways to overcome any communication barrier”, he states.
The other two days were targeting the decision-makers by providing them not only with leadership tools, but also with strategies to motivate their teams and thereby building trust and real commitment within the team members at work.
“I realized that listening to others is the first step to success.”
As a matter of fact, providing the employees with such sessions helps them to attain soft skills by applying it directly in their daily working life and observing the impact by themselves. Abdulaziz Sayed, a colleague of Fatheya at ISIS Organic, for instance, became “more calm and sober-minded than before when it comes to conflicts”, as Fatheya observed. Abdulaziz himself felt how his behavior has changed after attending the workshop too: “I feel free from my old tight circle. I realized that listening to others is the first step to success.”
James Humes, an American speechwriter for five presidents once said: “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” This is what female and male SEKEM co-workers learned during the workshop too; it needs a basic understanding of leadership, team building, motivation and a positive dealing with conflicts. The training days (which were related to a workshop of last year offered to female employees only) show how SEKEM is not only fostering the empowerment of women, but also promoting same opportunities for both, female and male co-workers to develop their skills and potential towards equal chances in working life.