On his second day in office President Nwanze's passionate speech captivates and inspires IFAD governance, IFAD management team and IFAD staff

On 2 April 2009, President Nwanze met with IFAD Executive Board and Rome-based country representatives, IFAD management team and IFAD staff.

In a passionate and inspiring speech which captivated more than 300 staff at headquarters for almost 30 minutes – where no one was caught reading their emails on their Blackberrys - and reached out to colleagues in IFAD country offices spread out through out the world from Washington D.C., New York to Tanzania, Philippines and Panama, President Nwanze shared his vision, views and insights.

In his opening remarks, the President paid tribute to IFAD's mission and said he was excited with the prospect of working with a wonderful group of staff for at least the next four years. The President said: "You have to have passion, commitment and dedication to be in IFAD". He reiterated that it is a privilege to be part of an institution that helps fellow human beings who are less fortunate and less advantaged. He stated that he was delighted to work with IFAD staff to deliver on IFAD's mission.

He reminded the gathering that "IFAD is recognized as a trusted partner, a trusted specialist in the area of agriculture, rural development – in other words food security". "Our 8th replenishment is a solid basis for us to continue doing good work and I believe that 67% increase of the 7th is an attestation of the support and endorsement by the members for what we do and this means larger programmes and larger challenges", said Nwanze.

As a trusted specialist, he pointed out "Our mission is to enable poor rural people to overcome poverty. Today with the financial crisis the number of people, particularly smallholder farmers who are falling into the same category as our client group is increasing. Our responsibility is to ensure that their voices are heard, our responsibility is to ensure that they are able to help themselves, our responsibility is to ensure that governments at the highest level are able to provide the financial assistance for us to be able to help them."

The President commended IFAD for its strengths while recognizing that as an organization we need to be humble and take note that there are areas where we need to improve. He mentioned that IFAD is a pioneer in the area of change and reform. At the same time he recognized that currently there is little space for innovation and risk taking and said: "I will give authority, space, but space comes with responsibility which means accountability… and you must deliver." He mentioned that he will be walking the corridors, he will be open, transparent and accessible, and said that it is our responsibility to deliver.

He also pointed out that we need to improve the decision making processing, to make the internal flow of information more efficient and get better in building synergies between divisions and departments.

"To work together we have to be complementary. But to be complementary we have to have different aspects and different view points […] and complementarity stipulates differences", said Nwanze. The President iterated that there is nothing wrong to have different opinions as we are different human beings. He made the point that IFAD can thrive through seeing the other person's point of view and by appreciating complementarity.

The President highlighted that IFAD staff are the organization's key assets and said "you are key to IFAD's success, you are IFAD's asset". "My responsibility is to inspire everyone so that you can aspire to higher heights", said Nwanze.

He called upon everyone, every manager, every colleague to respect each other and emphasized that "respect for human dignity is key to success". He said: "Respect for human dignity is a priority. I shall not tolerate act of disrespect to any other human being, be it they are a cleaner or the Vice-President. Every human being is equal in the eyes of God." He asked that respect as value be demonstrated in what we do and not what we say and said: "I will take it seriously if anyone is treated as second class citizen."

He invited the gathering to recognize staff for their performance and contribution - be it in public gatherings, by pronouncement, by a smile, or by nod of head. The President called for consistency in decision making. He demanded that rules and procedures be followed consistently and in a transparent and fair manner.

He also called upon colleagues to respect hierarchy and urged not to circumvent the systems currently in place and to respect processes, principles and procedures. He encouraged colleagues to engage in dialogue and conversation instead of resorting to communicating exclusively via email. He made the point that too much time is spent in trying to resolve issues via email instead of getting together for a few minutes around a table to talk things out.

The President shared his view on leadership: "My understanding of leadership is very simple. A true leader who has commitment, conviction and dedication is like a ladder that is solidly poised on the ground and serves the simple purpose of helping those that lead to climb the ladder and provides his shoulder as the top of the ladder where those that follow him or her can see beyond their vision. Every true leader takes pride in success, takes pride and satisfaction in the success of those that lead. The greatest joy for any father is when their child, their son or their daughter is able to aspire and be bigger than they are. Why then can we not, as fellow human beings, provide the same opportunities to those who work for us?"

Talking about management, the President said: "Earlier today I told the IFAD management team that they are part of management and to BE in management they must be WITH management". He continued by saying that "management does not reside only in the President and senior management team but with all managers". He pointed out that "management should not be sent problems, but management should be sent solutions to problems". He made a plea: "do not delegate upwards, but give me options for solutions to problems so that I can make decisions".

In concluding his statement, the President said: "I will be taking bold decisions that may not always be liked." He continued by saying, "let me make a confession - we will make mistakes, I will make mistakes, not all my decisions will be correct. But remember striving for perfection does not mean one is perfect. When you strive for perfection it is recognition of imperfection. So, as we go along this journey, I want you to know that I have all the good intentions to move with you on this journey so that IFAD is recognized for what it is - as a transparent and healthy environment, where there is respect and love for each other."

Colleagues who attended the morning session with the Executive Board and and Rome-based country representatives said that Executive Board directors were spellbound and mesmerized by the President's speech. Those who were at the IFAD management team lunch said that the President's performance was remarkable.

After the staff meeting, many colleagues came up to the President to congratulate him and thank him for an inspiring and passionate speech, amongst them were also the three springboard facilitators, who over the last 6 months have coached a number of colleagues in appreciative leadership. One of them took the President's hand in hers and said: "Thank you for a remarkable and inspiring speech".