Posts Tagged 'Leadership Development'

Le kilo

The 500-page French-language instruction manual for our leadership program is called ‘le kilo’ here in Cote d’Ivoire. It was a comment I believe I made three years ago when we started and I apologized for the hefty tome that we handed out to the would-be facilitators. We laughed about it. Now it has become simply a reference to the instruction guide; people use it with a straight face, no longer a joke, just a word for a thing. I had to laugh when, during the practicum, someone said, they didn’t use their ‘kilo.’ An outsider would not  understand what this referred  to.  One of the slogans in my current coaching course is ‘Words mean worlds.’ Indeed.

We had a full day of practicum sessions yesterday. Because the group is so large we have split in two. I am observing one region in one room and my counterpart is observing the other region in the room with the race track table.

The two regions are represented by, respectively, 8 and 6 district teams. The plan is that these district representatives, who are themselves participants in regional leadership training that is far advanced, take the program one level down. After this training each district team will conduct the leadership development program in their districts, much like the ones we observed last week in western Cote d’Ivoire.

The practice sessions I observed took place in a small room with four air conditioners that did not work very well. It was hot and humid, and in the afternoon, when the hot sun tried to get through the curtains and everyone was busy digesting a heavy lunch, the teams struggled. But this is the reality they will be operating in when they go back: seeing the participants in the program they will lead after lunch in rooms that won’t be as fancy as this one, which by the way is not all that fancy.

Motivational Perdiemitis

I oriented my colleague V. in November when she was brand new on her job. She is running on her own MSH’s Madagascar Leadership Development Program. We threw her in the deep end of the pool and she swam. Now I spend a week with her and the team of consultants and counterparts (focal points from the ministry of health) she has collected around her. We met at the MSH office and I learned what happened since I left 7 months ago. It is really quite remarkable, despite people complaining that not much has happened, what she has been able to pull off under very challenging conditions, including a change in top leadership at the ministry.

I am coaching the team to continue the good work and gain confidence. I am also teaching them things that they only partially understood or not at all about our leadership development program. Since I am teaching about coaching I have to be very aware of my own coaching behavior, and try to be a model, which is hard work. Compared to my own coaching training instructors back in the US I have a long way to go, but here I am the expert. It is mentally tiring, to always be so alert.

One of the usual bumps we run into is the idea that people get motivated by money. ‘La chasse au per diem,’ is maddening. And what is maybe even more maddening is that we, the donor community, are the worst offenders. We have created a dependency on these hand-outs that make it hard to gauge whether people come to sessions because they want to or to supplement their salaries.

I found out that the team members, who come to our sessions each day to prepare them for the next leadership development workshop that they will have to run on their own, are being paid a honorarium. “What for?” I said, incredulously. And the answer is always, ‘because otherwise they won’t come.’  I am at my most Dutch and most direct then, stating that these people can take it or leave it, as they please. Frankly, I am not interested in working with people who come only for the extra pay as they do get a salary which, I am told, it is a livable salary – they are, after all, at the top of the pyramid.

These extra payments are, despite what people think, not a motivator (in much of Francophone Africa the word ‘motivation’ is a euphemism for money). Frederick Herzberg’s influential work on motivation continues to shine light on this misconception. He proposed the motivator-hygiene theory, also known as the two-factor theory of job satisfaction. Those two sets of factors influence people’s behavior at work. One set is called hygiene factors. These do not motivate, but if absent, they demotivate. They include work conditions, pay, and job security. Motivational factors such as job recognition, increased responsibility, potential for promotion, (self)development opportunities and even the work in itself (which explains volunteerism), are what we ought to focus on. But we collude with the practice of incentive payments and shell out considerable sums when all is added up. And then we are surprised that people want more money. We are surprised that they wouldn’t come if we don’t pay. And then we sigh.


September 2017
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