The last quarter of 2016 was the most challenging part of the year for me, though in a remarkably progressive way. At one point, I was inundated with work inquiries that needed to be followed up on, projects that needed to be executed, and deadlines that urgently had to be met. Being one who is unavoidably handling multiple roles in my nonprofit organization-Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE) and who is still learning and perfecting my delegating skills, I had my plate pretty full. Typically, I end up overloading myself with work. More often than not, I don’t delegate because I want to make sure everything is done rightand on time. Also, I habitually find it difficult to turn down certain tasks that others (family, friends, associates, etc.) ask me to do. Time and again, I end up overstretched, unduly pressured, stressed out, and less efficient.
Since being founded, WISE has solely relied on ad-hoc, part time, and volunteer staffing —a situation that has undoubtedly limited the scope, reach, and impact of my work. I recognize and understand that one of the greatest setbacks remains the lack of adequate funding to build and sustain an effective system for managing my organization’s recruitment processes and activities, and also delivering our programs. “One of the greatest challenges facing nonprofits is attracting and retaining qualified talent. Without this talent, organizations are unable to achieve their mission,” writes Alicia Schoshinski a Senior HR Consultant. As such, identifying and securing funding for program operations and execution is a major priority in the New Year.
Over time, I had increasingly become accustomed to skipping meals and working all night particularly when I needed to meet application deadlines, writing schedules, and/or complete work tasks. Sometime in 2013, my now deceased loving dad told me that he noticed that the only time I fell ill was when I didn’t have much work to do. I took it as his way of acknowledging me as a hard worker and go-getter. Seeing that I didn’t fully get the message, he later told me that what he was trying to let me know was that I had formed a dangerous habit of driving myself to a breaking point. While I appreciated his feedback, I don’t believe I fully embraced his concerns. Soon enough, reality set in when fatigue and insomnia started taking a toll on my health, in 2015 in particular. I never understood how bad the situation was until months later when I attended an empowerment workshop at Ife (South Western Nigeria) in November 2015; as precondition for my in class training at the Empowerment Institute (EI) in New York. I arrived at Ife feeling dead beat, even though I pulled through the highly helpful workshop sessions. It is worthy of mention that the IMAGINE Program Empowerment workshop was hosted and facilitated by Busayo Obisakin, a World Pulse sister, even as the scholarship opportunity was offered to me by Gail Straub (cofounder of the Empowerment Institute) during the course of my participation in the 2014 World Pulse Live Speaking tour.
The empowerment module emphasizes seven key life areas (emotion, relationship, body, work, money, sexuality and spirituality) to flourish, and each must be addressed. Based on how drained and unwell I was feeling from the first day of the training, I knew that the area of life I needed to immediately start paying special attention to was ‘My body.’ So, I left the workshop with renewed determination to ensure that I begin with minimum of 6 hours of sleep per night. I returned home having that as an affirmation and to date, my sleeping and eating habits have consistently improved. The learning from my in-class training at the Empowerment Institute in January and June 2016 has further awakened a sense of self-awareness that is helping me connect with my body and to also appreciate the essence of personal and organizational development.
As an EI scholar, I currently have a coach assigned to me alongside other scholars from different parts of Africa. Theresa McGharan, EI’s Sub-Saharan Africa Region mentor and coach, is specially assigned to provide guidance and coaching instructions that are specific to my IMAGINE certification training and also tailored to the Institute’s Empowerment curriculum. This relationship addresses my personal development and empowerment, as well as my work as an Empowerment Facilitator.
My commitment to leadership development focuses on improving employee engagement, conflict resolution, self-awareness of my leadership style in ways that will empower me and the people I work with. Little wonder that when I was given an opportunity to work on a growing edge during my last IMAGINE Master Trainer Certification Program (IMTCP) Mentoring/coaching session call on December 8th 2016, I chose to work on the issue of my leadership style; particularly because I knew it was really important for me to get past putting up with unproductive employees and volunteers. I had for long unconsciously held unto a wrong notion that “an authoritative leader is a bully”, thus allowing workers to get away with many excesses. With expert guidance from Theresa, I arrived at an affirmation that “I am a courageous leader and I confront difficult issues in an empowering way”. As an emerging entrepreneur, I recognize and appreciate the invaluable gifts of knowledge, feedback, and support that I’ve benefited from. I’ve continued to grow as a businessperson, as a leader and as an individual.
I feel fortunate to have participated in the WP Impact Leader program where I’ve received help from my Impact leader team members, especially Ellen Wasyl and Sabiha Hasan, because their insight, guidance, and support has been tremendously reassuring. Their mentoring/coaching support is fast helping me become better skilled at finding, recruiting, assigning, supervising, coaching and or guiding my staff and volunteers. The greatest news with regard to HR / Staffing is our newest WISE addition. As a result of the WP Impact Team’s efforts, Sabiha has joined our organization as our Human Resource and Management expert. Sabiha has graciously and generously offered to join WISE as a Volunteer Director of Human Resources, starting January 2017. She remains an invaluable addition as she is already working round the clock to redefine our recruitment strategies to attract and retain the right fit of staff and volunteers, and very importantly, standardize the Human Resource policy of WISE. Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Now, I am able to direct my attention majorly on business development, funding, and also finding potential investors in our social enterprise.
Our Impact Leader Coach and Facilitator Ellen is also not resting her oars as she is leading our team’s efforts to develop a winning Business model for our envisioned Women’s ECO learning Centre. These strategic endeavours are a game-changer for me and my work. I am so relieved to have the understanding and listening ears of Ellen and Sabiha and their powerful shoulders to lean on as they continue to help unleash my management and leadership potentials.