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Ellen Ndeshi Namhila: A viewpoint from Namibia

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An inclusive management style

It's become fashionable to ask those in senior positions what their management style is. Ms Namhila denies that she has any particular management style, although it is clear that her experiences of the exclusive nature of apartheid have shaped her values:

"I always think that why would you make, why would you exclude somebody, what is it that you gain by leaving me out or leaving somebody out?"

Ms Namhila most definitely doesn't want to leave anyone out – everyone is important in her library, and everyone has a chance to prove themselves, from the librarian who advises on legal resources and helps with the budget, to the person who locks up or keeps the exhibition area presentable. Hers is very much a team effort:

"As for management style, I like to run a place where everyone feels they have a place to contribute, and also feel that they have a special programme they are running, that they are responsible for. Even our junior staff, you make them think they are responsible for security of the building. Or you may be responsible for the exhibition area, keeping it neat and clean and up to date – at the staff meeting they can report on what can now be removed."

A great way of valuing people is to give them praise when they do something well – even better, give them some tangible form of recognition. Ms Namhila has hit on a unique way of giving people a reward – if they do something particularly good, they get a certificate:

"And when people do well, praise them, recognize them – you can just issue them with a certificate, like one time I travelled and when I came back I found the staff had done an exhibition. I was so impressed. So what do I do? I can't afford to take them for lunch, but I can issue them with a certificate of recognition and ask the vice chancellor to sign it. And they feel good, they feel recognized, they feel appreciated".