However, the disempowerment was now internal, fueled by negative and fearful talk – almost as though the company’s employees had forgotten how to think and dream big. The talk was always negative. Employees would come to work with negative thoughts, meet friends and share their negativity, which ended up amplifying the negative thoughts exponentially by the time they left work. Delivery and accountability were hindered because everyone was waiting for change but felt that someone else had to lead that change. Nancy wanted to change this mindset to one of personal accountability and leadership. She felt that if they could achieve this, they would also accelerate the rate of growth in the company.
Nancy completed the Investment In Excellence® program alongside her husband and the Unilever executive team and their spouses. The entire management team followed with their training. The experience was truly transformational, even though they started the Investment In Excellence® program to solve business issues, personal and family lives were also impacted. People came out of the process with a more optimistic view of the future, took responsibility to make a positive impact and, most importantly, got on with doing what needed doing. It was as if they had been given a new lease on life – a license to start dreaming again, and a road-map to make it happen. Initially, we agreed that only the executive team would complete the program. However, when came back to work we realized that the executive alone could not change the way the organization was operating, the management team also needed this new license to dream, act and take responsibility. When the management team completed the training, the results were equally impressive.
In the first year following The Pacific Institute program, Unilever Zimbabwe grew by 73%. In the same year, Nancy went on to win the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) Business Woman of the year award. In the following two years, average growth was over 20% per year. The company has been used as an example for the sub-region of how a business should be run. The two main areas noted are the positive energy of the team and the way the team holds each other accountable. There is also personal accountability within the company, nobody wants to be considered the weakest link.