One key learning that has stayed with me in my study of organizational development (OD) is “Self as an Instrument of change”. The topic resonates with my basic value system of servant leadership, which I attempt to model after the example of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Organizational Development practice, the self is elevated as the most critical part of OD methodology (Noble Kumawu, 2007). By this, the OD practitioner applies his or her full personality, consisting of a mix of values and worldviews in all that they do to achieve the desired impact. The wrong self, therefore, has the potential to wreak untold havoc on the entire work of the practitioner.
This is necessary for every sphere of life. Leadership is influence and influence thrives on the value the leader exudes and represents. So,
- Be clear on who you are
- Have a clear set of Values
- Be aware of what sets you apart from the crowd
- Understand your biases and
- Be consistent.
In my observation, appropriate use of self is the best and easiest way to achieve great impact in a short time. The desired self must possess a set of high moral values and timeless professional principles to be effective.
A personal Experience and Testimony:
I had the rare opportunity to assist one of the finest OD practitioners and workplace helpers in Ghana to conduct a 4-day training for staff of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) this year. Indeed, although I was there to co-facilitate the training, which a think I did quite well, the real value accrued to me was my experience of how the lead facilitator applied the factor of self to send the right message, create a disciplined training environment, and assist learners to appreciate, adopt and uphold basic life principle necessary for their effectiveness and enhance workplace productivity.
Dr. Dolores Opon is an accomplished OD practitioner – head above shoulders over the average OD practitioner in the country both in training and in practice – at least from my observation. She is the Executive Director and Lead Consultant of OPTIONS GROUP LTD, an organization positioned to provide help for personal growth and enhance workplace productivity.
She has built a reputation of unwavering discipline, focus, and high impact among clients. The training with NPA was exemplary.
As a co-facilitator, I had prior notice to be absolutely punctual. Early the first day, whiles battling traffic congestion in a public vehicle, I received a text prompt from Doc.,
“Good morning, Chriss. Trust you are well.
I am at the venue, NPA.
Please, don’t be late. Thank you.”
“I’m fine thank you” “Please I won’t” – what else could I have said?
I did a quick time check – it was 7:28 am. Wow! Checked google Maps to reassess the travel time to the venue. I had to be there before 8:30 am. I couldn’t keep the lead facilitator waiting for the protégé.
Quickly, I changed the mode of transport, blazed the storm, and jumped on the motorbike. I arrived at 8:28 am, exactly one hour after receiving the prompt. Hugh! Nice.
When I greeted them, her response sent an even stronger message that I couldn’t in any way afford to toy with time around her.
“Hello Chriss, welcome”.
You made it!
I was here at 6:38 am”.
“Wow, this will be tough”, I gossiped to myself while smiling gayly at her. I knew I had signed on to training that would change me, completely.
Participants trickled in. Five minutes to time Doc signaled me to join her at the high table. She placed a gentle call on participants to ensure all colleagues were seated before time – and that anyone who came in late would lose the opportunity completely. Simply, if you’re late, you’re out!
When it was 9 am, I was signaled to close the doors – and training commenced in earnest. Two minutes into the training, a well-dressed lady walked in and greeted me happily. Sadly, she had broken the rule and would indeed lose the opportunity. After a few interactions with Doc., she agreed there was no way, and walked out.
This single act sent chills down the spine of all of us in the meeting – the message hit hard.
STRICTLY, NO LATENESS SHALL BE TOLERATED.
Under the mounting discomfort among members, a bold one mustered the courage to ask if this meant that the lady could not participate for the entire two-day period? Doc answered in the affirmative. – even more, chills. Another protested that they were not aware that facilitators would be that stringent on adherence to time.
Doc. pointed to a message at the foot of the schedule document in their possession. Apparently, all participants had been served with the notice by email. Some probably just didn’t read, read but took it for granted, or better still just didn’t manage their time well.
She took the liberty to explain the rationale for her actions and resolve to stay by her unwavering values and principles. The message was clear.
Before breaking for snacks at 11 am (The snack break was 30mins long), participants were reminded to be seated before time. The same principles remain. At 11:28 am, Doc signaled and we walked to take our position to continue the training at exactly 11:30 am. Once again, a young lady came in late after the break. She lost her seat in the training for the rest of the period. By this time, every part of all personnel in the training room had been sensitized by Doc.’s principles. Another young man joined the fallen heroes after the lunch break.
This continued all through the training period – with a few registered participants losing their seats due to lateness. Fortunately, the training was held in two batches, so fallen heroes from the first batch had the rare chance to join the second batch. One young man we affectionately called Mosey, was particularly happy to be back after losing his seat in the first batch due to lateness and indeed made the most of the opportunity in the second batch.
- Analysis of training assessment of the participants, was telling of the invaluable impact of the Doc.’s unwavering principles of self-discipline and time consciousness. All participants were happy to have gone through the training and confirmed that it was appropriate, well-conducted, and result-oriented.
- Even co-facilitators like me, had our share of self-disciplining to learn with deep gratitude.
- Organizers and managers of the training, led by the head of HR and administration were eternally grateful for the enormous impact of the training.
- One participant boldly declared, that this was the best training he or she had attended.
- The reputation of the team of facilitators soared even higher.
To make the right impact and achieve the influence needed to lead, you must ensure that you have the values, principles, and discipline in the right places.
In the entire four days, I was early to the venue, and Doc and colleague facilitators were always there before I arrived. The traffic situation in Accra remained the same, but all of us, facilitators and trainees alike found ways to beat the traffic, arrive in or on time, and make the best use of the moment – thanks to Dr. Dolores Opon.
Among the facilitators, a retired Brig General and onetime Commander of the 37 Military hospital, currently serving as board member of The Options Group Limited & snr consultant, whispered the enormous change that had occurred in his life due to his association with Doc into my ear.
There is a widespread culture of impunity and disregard for a time in our country. Workers take pleasure in going to work late and congratulating themselves for doing so. It is no surprise, therefore, that the aggregate productivity of the nation is always far below acceptable levels – breeding extreme poverty and destitution. This needs to change, and we all need to work hard to make the change.
Never underrate the impact you can make in your community, by asserting yourself as the most important instrument of change.
We must assume responsibility and: ‘Be the change that we wish to see in the world.’
The self is a powerful tool, use it well.