7 January 2011

The role of the change agent - Is it consultancy or a calling? How can leaders keep their skills honed?

Having worked in five and visited three other countries last year, I was aware of the need for quick adjustment to cultural fit! I recently attended People in Aid Forum/AGM. Plan International, working in the Philippines Floods seeks five qualities in their disaster workers: inspiring/having confidence; agility; good communication and being results-driven. How can we all keep our skills up to date in changing times?

Having worked in organisational development since the 1980s, I feel my character, skills and ‘calling’ have morphed into one! However, as change agent, the change is not yours but owned by others! I was aware of this in both the Christian hospital in Pakistan and the Fistula Rehabilitation Centre run by FORWARD Nigeria, where I worked last year. As the women to whom I taught English graduate this month – with mosquito nets donated by friends from Church – the women return to a ‘new’ life of health and hope. How will they be agents of change in their community?

As we begin 2011 – many of us wish to change behaviours, attitudes or skills! As an agent of change I plan to ‘respond more and react less’! I also need to say ‘no’ to some requests to make space for my ‘yes’ agreements! I need to be patient as African cultures are more focused on the ‘event’ and journey not the time and outcome! I want to trust, praise and admire more! I am encouraged to under promise, and over deliver. Steve Chalke, in his book ‘Change Agents’ also suggests approaching every problem with an ‘open mind rather than an open mouth’!

As women in leadership roles we face unique challenges – as I am often asked as I travel ‘Where is your husband/children/father/siblings/family?!’ History provides many role models of women doing great deeds – and I am excited to work with a group of great African and British women at FORWARD who each have their own way of ‘changing the world’. As far as my New Year’s resolutions….? Be more patient and gracious with others and myself; be courageous and take healthy risk to affect changes and be passionate to follow my ‘calling’ – to be a Change Agent!