Day 2 – Change Isn’t Built In A Day
The power of small wins is something many of us have witnessed. When taking over a leadership role, inspiring change or introducing something new, the probability of acceptance is much higher if you begin to build trust through small gestures or events that show results – so the group can see a win. While it may be tempting to mandate change and address everything at once, this approach is not likely to build belief that the change is good or that it can or should be continually implemented by the team, so it will likely not stick once the leader or change agent is not close to the situation. For anything to be sustainable, it must be owned and able to be duplicated by those closest to the work.
It’s no different in the African villages we are currently visiting with Global Hope Network International (GHNI). While many people come in and donate large amounts of money to improve living conditions in these areas, without the proper time taken to educate the community on why the improvement is important and how to both maintain and continue the progress, these improvements are not sustainable.
Consider this example. Several millions of dollars are donated across desolate regions in order to provide wells and access to water. They build the wells and an immediate improvement is made. Everyone is happy… Until the wells break or something disrupts the functionality. Suddenly, there’s a problem. No one has been educated on how to repair the wells and the village suffers a major setback. Do they have the knowledge to run the well, maintain the well, repair the well and transport the water to where it needs to go? Even if that information is relayed upon installation of the well, the knowledge is likely lost in the moments they need it.
The work on projects like wells is critical to elevating people, but what is also needed is a longer term partner and coach who is less of a specialist and more of a generalist, who builds trust and continues knowledge as the village progresses. That coaching relationship is the enabler that allows more specific project work (like wells) to have more value over time and be more sustainable.
GHNI works to help these villages develop the skills they need to become self-sustaining by building trust over time and showing the community how they can help themselves by demonstrating small wins. Then, when a group comes in to provide medical clinics or other solutions to major problems, it’s being met with a mindset that they can implement that change, because they know when the project group is gone, someone can help them through the early days living with it. The way to do this is to form small groups who own that particular area of improvement (i.e.: water, education, agriculture). These groups get to work with the specialists and once the specialists are gone, they are coached and supported by the generalists to own that project and be accountable for it. With GHNI, these groups are committees.
It’s not an easy task to form committees and convince villagers that their own education and hard work are just as important as money or other people helping when it comes to improving conditions in the long run. (We will spare you the obvious “Teach a man to fish” line, but you get the point.)
One of the harder areas of GHNI’s work is to help villagers see and believe that they can and should do it on their own. This is why those small wins are so important. How often have you been in the same situation with your own teams? It can be so easy as a leader to say, “I’ll just do it myself,” than it is to take a step back and say, “You can do it. Let me show you how,” …and to wait there with them to see how it goes and coach them through the early trials and tribulations, so the changes stick. It’s the same with villages – this is how you help any team grow and become self-sustaining.
It’s not the quick way of implementing change – it’s the longer, harder, but sustainable way. It drastically increases the likelihood that once the change is implemented, long after you are gone, it lives on to benefit others.
This is one of many lessons from the village that our team brings back to impact their own personal leadership styles and help others do the same. Think about this as you determine ways to elevate your own ability to implement lasting change in your life or business.