The Senegalese Gnylane Thiam Traore, CEO of Devnetwork Africa, gave a master-class at the West Africa Regional Women In Africa Initiative (WIA) Summit on the topic «Women entrepreneurs: listen to our voice, learn to listen.»



Gnylane Thiam Traoré who was born in Ethiopia, grew up and started school in Senegal. A worthy heir to the Queen of Sheba, she masters the art of leadership. In other words, how to lead a team.
With a degree in contemporary history from the Sorbonne University, in Paris, trained in the largest international institutions including the United Nations and the World Bank, she quickly found her place in human resources. «I helped the teams to develop their skills, to think differently, to encourage the growth of employees for greater efficiency of the company.»
With this expertise, she returned to Dakar in 2013 to create Devnetwork Africa, a firm specialized in corporate coaching. Large groups like Orange or Gras Savoye are among her customers. Devnetwork Africa operates in Senegal but also throughout the francophone zone.


An innovative methodology: «co-development»

In the framework of the WIA Initiative Summit, which took place on April 12, 2018, École des Sables, one-hour drive from Dakar, she gave a master-class on the theme «Women entrepreneurs: listen to our voice, learn to listen.» An exercise that uses an innovative methodology borrowed from Anglo-Saxons; co-development. «When the organizers asked me, I first asked them about the needs of the participants. I have noticed with the people we are assisting that the issue of working together, how to find answers together, is something interesting and useful.» This master-class enabled the participants to be able, in a short time – one hour – to identify their own challenge and meet that of the other participants thanks to specific techniques. «For example, we asked participants, about fifteen or so, business managers and senior executives, to identify their challenges. We then created a space of co-construction: everyone talks about their challenges. Then the group consolidated in «resource» to identify solutions. With instructions to respect: we must listen well and not immediately give advice. Be in active and benevolent listening.»

During the next stage, the person whose challenge was chosen was attended to by Gnylane Thiam Traoré with active coaching. Then the participants offered him solutions that she had never thought of. «We do not always imagine that we can find solutions with people we do not know. Even people who did not talk their challenge found answers through that of others. They discovered that managing an SME, running a large company or taking on managerial roles in a large firm, are finally same difficulties. «During the master class at Ecole des Sable, the feedbacks were very positive. I continued to exchange by email with the participants. Many asked that these resources be available (I do not understand: keep contacts with the participants?). It is our posture in Devnet: support one another. Often women managers feel lonely. Thanks to this master-class, they found a form of support through our co-development methodology.»

At the end of her training, Gnylane Thiam Traore shared her expertise with other women. «Participating in this summit has been very rewarding for me. In terms of meetings in particular. Even though I live in Dakar, I exchanged with people I did not know. The concept of master-class is very interesting because it is an opportunity to find, immediately, solutions to problems that we ask ourselves. More time should be given to those precious moments during which women can find themselves in a benevolent space where we are there for them. Listen without being judged in a benevolent environment.» One of the keys, according to her, of entrepreneurial success!





A major challenge for any entrepreneur: delegation


Among the challenges that emerged during this master-class, that of the delegation was studied in terms of co-development. «I have the feeling that my team does not understand what I am asking. » A participant explained.



The solutions recommended by Gnylane Thiam Traore:


– A prerequisite: Express clearly your expectations
« You have to start by asking yourself the question: have I defined terms of reference? (?? Rather use the terms of the reference?) Then I recommend talking clearly about one’s expectations as manager, discuss challenges with collaborators, discuss things that worked out elsewhere…..» Finally, this woman realized at the end of the exercise that she left head first, because when you are business manager, you must go fast and we forget sometimes team management. It is something that popped up clearly during session. »

– First solution: be lucid about one’s strengths and abilities
« I must first specify my expectations, be able to listen, be sure that the message is understood, to avoid starting all over again. This done, the first solution, before being able to manage, is to manage oneself. In other words, be lucid about one’s strengths and weaknesses. Often people ignore this knowledge of themselves. »

– Second solution: know your team
« It is important to try to get to know your team. Through the motivations of one another, know what everyone’s talents are. If one is good in one particular field, the other in another. This helps to organize resources efficiently for the company and for the fulfilment of the teams. »

– Third solution: knowing how to communicate authentically
« The other major challenge is to know how to communicate, authentically, on his vision and his difficulties. Often, and repeatedly men, women do not dare to ask for help. But these are the fundamentals of communication. Once his expectations have been expressed, he must then ensure that his teams adhere to this vision. Men are not machines. Very often, the problem in companies is that technically people are operational, but not emotionally. And yet this is the difference between an effective team and one that is not. »

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