Leadership and Coaching in Nepal – Deborah Koehler (part 5)

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Open Workshop
I designed, wrote the syllabus, and developed a training plan for a 4-day workshop on “soft skills” and delivered it to 15 managers from the ages of 19 to 52 from Education, Business, and Government offices. It was an open program and anyone could attend.

My soft skills program was about the delivery methods of how information is conveyed to different work groups: children, beauty pageant contestants, teachers, students, technical employees and the executive boards. Each participant came from a different need and position in the organization.

What I knew and what was confirmed during the opening hour of the workshop was that their personal identity is connected to their role in society. In the icebreaker of Who are you, the first answer is either a man or a new father. The Icebreaker is to ask the Question: Who are You? 10 times, to bring the participant into himself and to share with another his concept of self. This then leads to connections between the two unknown participants. They then share with the others at their table what are their common words on their list of 10 and what are the unusual words. Each table reports what was similar and what was different. Then we discussed what was missing. What is the difference between identity, values and experience? No one identified themselves as: driven, ambitious, innovative, or caring. Some said they were entrepreneurs, students, teachers, and workers but no one identified themselves with their personality or values.

My point of this exercise was if you yourself do not know what you value about yourself through your identity – then how can you see it in another? If you cannot see it in the other how can communicate or make a connection for the other’s understanding? The common value in Nepal is to be a good person so that your next life can be better. What when pressed to articulate what is a good person – I was met with a smile and a laugh.

The next exercise was how our brains entangle themselves with performance that we cannot remember to connect with another. The game involves a physical movement at the same time responding to others requests. When the brain attaches to the task of the physical movement, it forgets to connect with the other person. With this exercise they realized that as a manager when they get caught up in the task and they forget to listen to the needs of their staff and don’t respond to requests because their brain was preoccupied with their task.

Thus set the stage of the workshop: who are they and what do they value and how do they do their tasks and at the same time develop their staff.

The discussions centered on can an introvert lead training? What are different types of intelligences and now the Hospitality field is growing in Nepal – as an alternative to those that fail their +2 graduation. They began to see that the Hospitality field required a different type of intelligence then rewarded by the educational system they currently have. These were people that with awareness could make a change in the testing that decides the future of students. Before if they failed their School Leaving Certificate test – they went off to work as laborers – now they can go to Hospitality training and as well more vocational schools are coming up and even I have heard that there is a school that you can attend at any age. This was never available before.

In my encouraging these discussions among the participants was my hope that will feel more opportunity for themselves and for the staffs that they manage. I want them to feel the scope of new opportunities and if they listen, draw out, and help those that report to them, and help them identify their values and desires this will create the energy that will lead to new business development.

The energy over the 4 days increased noticeably. With insight into themselves and the position they each had to made a difference in their work it was as if their own personal energy created and it ignited more ideas. In the last day when they had to do their group presentations using their skills to involve the audience – they were a changed group. Not everyone got the ideas, as still there were still the ego attachment of the pontificators but the others could see the difference now between the pontificators and the facilitators and how much more they were involved in the facilitator’s discussion. The presentations were about interviewing skills, delegation of tasks, and Entrepreneurialism in a traditional society. Each of the 3 presentations invited discussion and response.

While this may be normal in the rest of the world – telling is still seen as the method of control for bosses. Telling and not involving oneself in what others think and avoiding conflict are still cultural norms – but if in this workshop they could have the experience of the release of energy that comes from being seen and supported, my hope is that they will carry this inner feeling into their own work and more frequently pause and alter the way they interact, lead a workshop, or present. Part 6