Trust fall

I found my co-facilitator at breakfast the next morning, as well as my colleague who was responsible for getting me there, after a chance encounter at the airport in Brussels, both coming and going, when he went to Sierra Leone and I went to Liberia – the plane touches down in both countries.

My co-facilitator used to run the MSH leadership program in Kenya and turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. I had never worked with her in those days but knew of her reputation, which is why I had recommended her. She is a first rate coach and facilitator, besides being great company. She is a consultant now, since her MSH project ended, which is such a shame – all that talent not being used, whether in Kenya or elsewhere in the world. I am intent on finding her more assignments, preferably with myself.

The first week of our assignment was to create a pool of leadership developers. We had three days to turn some 17 lecturers into facilitators. We sometimes scratched our heads those first 24 hours. On the last day of the TOT all the participants, in pairs, had to do a session. Many of them lectured their way through the practice session or improvised and tied themselves up into knots. Lecturers are supposed to have all the answers – it was both funny and sad to see them trying to be more knowledgeable than they were. We knew they had a ways to go.

When people are used to giving lectures and presentations they tend not to do any of the things that our Leadership Development Program (LDP) facilitators have to do: prepare, follow the instructions in the guide , arrive early, have all their materials, flipcharts and resources ready (no PowerPoints allowed), read the room, pay attention to the energy in the room, do something when half the room is on Facebook, watching a soccer match, are texting or looking at pictures of full-breasted women, etc.

We selected the best 4 (2 women and 2 men) of the TOTs as we called them (for training of trainers) and spent some intense prep time with them because we wanted them, rather than us, facilitate the stakeholder alignment meeting that was planned for the Tuesday in the following week.  The purpose of this was not only to provide them with an immediate opportunity to put their news skills to the test, but also to show our audience that they now had a new resource in the country that could help implement the renewed attention to leadership and governance. It was a trust fall.

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