I was in Kenya last week and wow it was great to be back after so many years. A client had asked me to help him develop stronger bonds between his top team members. Certainly an exciting prospect, and it turned out the group was the most diverse team I have ever worked with, which consisted of 16 senior executives from 16 different countries covering 4 different continents! It was really an amazing group of people. You know by now that I relish on these opportunities and that it plays straight into my strengths and expertise.
However, the only way for me to deliver with the time frame at hand, was to approach things differently and to experiment. I decided to start the day with something that I normally do after a couple of days. I had worked with my client before and knew he was an extra-ordinary leader who was willing to partner with me and make my experiment work. The results were phenomenal and to quote one participant “What happened that day was extraordinary and it has created a tremendous link in all of us”.
Throughout my Unilever career I had been relatively predictable, and had done things according to ‘how things are normally done here’. However, when I was appointed in my second country HR Director role I made a conscious decision to try to do things in a way I had never done before.
Of course to experiment and take risks is easier said than done. You need to have the courage to do things differently without being sure what the result might be. This requires confidence; in your own abilities but probably even more so in your preparation. Experimenting doesn’t mean that you do things ‘in the blind’ but means you must be prepared for anything. In my line of work I prepare myself through visualization. I visualize how a discussion will flow and what kind of questions, responses and reactions will guide people in a certain direction.
People often don’t experiment because they are afraid to fail. And yes, this requires courage. But from personal experience I have learned that as long as your intent is right and you try things differently – that even if they you don’t succeed people will appreciate the effort, the courage, and more importantly you learn more than you ever can doing things the normal way.
To experiment you have to have the confidence to walk the ‘road less traveled’ and not be afraid to fail. But, you know what – if you experiment you will have more success, learn more and at the same time have more fun doing it.
– Paul Keijzer