I had a very happy childhood. Am blessed with parents who gave me freedom to think and act; grandparents who were the best guiding forces you could find; enterprising uncles who pooh-poohed all problems away with a merry song and dance; aunts so talented yet humble who could whip up a storm if however you crossed a line and siblings galore with different wavelengths and frequencies as you would normally find in a Joint Family in India. We also had our great grandfather living with us bringing to us the charm of years before us with style and aplomb. We made each other be what we are today. Healthy communities make healthy leaders for sure.
With such a powerful university showing you the way to deal with people and nicely so, one simply could not falter at managing and enabling people, I suppose. I forget when I first started to enjoy the role of mentoring. Only remember doing it all the while from very young. I strongly believe that when you use the skill sets you have had with you from childhood, you succeed best in life.
At ArtyPlantz and IdeinLab, I mentor with a focus that is very refreshing. Same age old techniques that were used on me and those that I used on others, yet channeled through thoughts on goals and directions in Social Business. Another unshakable belief of mine is the fact that most all people are born potential leaders. Circumstances make them give this position away over years of conditioning otherwise. I feel that every leader should enable a few others to become leaders in their lifetime.
An important find is that most people struggle to discover the true direction they seek to follow in life. Most often than not, they are engaged in working in areas where they got placed in the first place through desires of what elders wished for them, or through their twisted perception of what they felt would earn more money for themselves. This stops them from doing what is most natural to every human being and that is Being a Leader to Oneself. My job has been first to break down this barrier and get people to discover how they can be their own leader and the best thing they wish to do or pursue in their lives.
This is never a simple question-and-answer session. It usually brings up fears, insecurities, self-doubts, blame, and an urge to postpone the final thinking, that is quite a struggle for some people. For a commercial entrepreneur this is an anathema and the last thing an entrepreneur wants to do is try and patiently mentor to see if her employees could become entrepreneurs. On top of that to counsel and make them see how they can be as good if not better than her, must be a fantasy they would rather avoid.
I think that is a short-sighted goal with perhaps short term benefits but in the long run, a group of enabled and empowered leaders take initiatives far wider than what a single person can do in her lifetime.
There is however, an interesting outcome in this experience of mine. No two employees of the two companies, had the same direction to go after. So each employee has a unique entrepreneurial direction that we are working on, and many of these directions are soon going to bear fruits and become financially sound. The sudden thrust in taking over the marketing, handling of clients, making of collaterals in each of their directions, and the high interactive support each gives the other within the organisation is not simply altruism at its peak, but rather happiness at discovering goal and purpose of life and self in the process. Diversification and Innovation has happened automatically! Imagine this – we just don’t have people to plant connect programs, but we have started to offer Nature Classrooms enabling programs; we don’t just have urban home gardens, but we have Urban Mali Programs; we don’t have just food forests, but we have hands on workshops for landowners to grow their food in their vacant plots;we don’t have just interior services, but offer upscaled interiors using recycled materials; we don’t simply wish to stop with green architecture, but want to enable many contractors into adopting green building practices; we don’t just offer horticulture therapy, but are planning to teach other therapists and doctors how they can enable this for their patients; we don’t just design landscapes but offer to rehab unsustainable gardens into sustainable ones through community driven events. Each a gem, each sprung from the minds of empowered leaders.
We have been hit by this persistence of mine to make entrepreneurs of each employee. I waited to see them grow into being what they are today, all the while investing in them and paying for their time with me. While on one side I am now talking to banks to make them see they should be honoured to give me working capital (tongue in cheek), my little beavers are making business plans (by themselves and very well at that, mind you now!) The plans not only look good, but they also seem to be creating interest in the public and we have had some good enquiries come our way in each of the little initiatives.
If I get a few months solace, I know my team would take this ship to sail brilliantly into any kind of waters. My buccaneer spirit tells me we will make it. I am sure, you dear reader would cheer us to the finish line. :).