“Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking and it will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7

Why is it so difficult to find a solution to sustainable Caribbean growth?

The societies and economies in the Caribbean are in a state of endemic chaos and need a good comprehensive spring cleaning before attempting to move forward. We need to get rid of the cobwebs of lethargy, laziness and lawlessness, covered with accumulated dirt and dust, and replace them with the sparkle of networks which radiate rays of delight, drive and discipline. We need to get rid of the traditional thinking which has got us into a state of economic inertia and replace it with visionary thinking by a new brand of leadership which will launch us into orbits of innovation and growth.

Societies are made up of people so that is where we must begin. To shift from cobweb to sparkle, each and every one of us must strive to transform ourselves into individuals who are charged for positive action.

Economies are made up of ideas and innovation but rely on people and money to propel them to sustained growth and success. We must therefore get people empowered before we can engender any hope of sustained success.

It has been continually repeated that there is no shortage of business ideas and the money is there in the private sector, but accessing it and putting it to work, for the benefit of all, remains a problem.

Bestselling author Kevin Daum states that “if it were easy to empower employees, everyone would do it.” He gives given eight tips for empowering employees which will help people step up to the plate and make a significant contribution to growing companies.

The tips for employees are: (1) Foster Open Communication – Help them understand that their input is valued even if you decide to go a different way. Make sure you acknowledge them for sharing and reward valuable input that helps the company; (2) Reward Self-Improvement – Help employees set a plan for growth and reward them as they advance; (3) Encourage Safe Failure – Create milestone checkpoints or set up laboratory environments where people can test new ideas and learn from failures as well as the successes; (4) Provide Plenty of Context – Most leaders carry lots of information in their brains. Unfortunately, many employees don’t get the benefit of all that information, yet they are expected to take action and make good decisions as if they understood every nuance. Great leaders figure out how to extract the important information from their minds and share it in a structured and consistent manner. An employee who clearly understands the vision, mission and core values of a company can easily make consistent decisions and take appropriate action at any junction.

The other four tips are: (5) Clearly Define Roles – Establish specific roles and responsibilities with employees so all are clear and can work together cooperatively; (6) Require Accountability – Be consistent and diligent in your measurement and rewards so employees are motivated to do their best; (7) Support Their Independence – Give your employees reasons and opportunity to stretch out on their own and even lead others. They may stumble, but they’ll learn a lot and build the respect of their colleagues while preparing to be great empowering leaders themselves someday; and (8) Appreciate Their Efforts – The best employees don’t work at your company just for the money; empowered people need a greater level of satisfaction than simply financial stability. They need to feel that leadership appreciates their contribution and values their participation.

These tips also are applicable to start-up companies. However, in this case entrepreneurs have to lay the foundation by ensuring that they themselves are empowered as they embark on rolling out their innovations, before they attempt to ensure that their employees are also empowered.

In my day-to-day endeavors to help start-up, spin-off or scale-up entrepreneurs to grow their companies, I have found that two distinct thrusts must be pursued. The one is to empower the entrepreneur and the other is to train the entrepreneur in the management of business systems so as to reduce the risk of business failure and increase the chances of the business growing and surviving in the category of “a successful business over a five year period”.

Currently, 90 percent of global start-ups fail over the first five years. The twin thrust of entrepreneur empowerment and management of business systems is called shepherding and its promotion is expected to contribute to growth in the economies where it is practised.

The shepherding tool that I use for start-ups is the ManOBiz™ Matrix which includes an instrument to empower people. This instrument is grounded in the positive affirmations of passion, persistence and patience to attract abundance into business, financial, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. After all, the individual is a member of homo sapiens – the thinking species with mind, body, and spirit.

Other instruments are introduced to manage all the systems of the business.

An example of visionary leadership, to reverse the state of economic inertia, is the 16th Trade and Investment convention hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA) during the period July 8-11, 2015 – www.tic-tt.com.

This is the region’s largest business to business convention.

TTMA has buyers registered from across the globe, including England, Panama, the United States, Canada, Africa, Caricom, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Bangladesh and Venezuela.

Let us garner passion, persevere and patiently empower ourselves to be the best that we can be so that we may change not only our own lives but, through the transformation of our economies, the lives of those around us.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)