An interview with Ammarens Bruggenkamp, Manager Energy West-Africa and MENA
Together with Better Future we currently organize leadership programs for our leaders. Better Future is an organization that connects leadership teams from the not-for-profit sector and the business world through meaningful learning journeys. Their approach has positive social impact whilst delivering the necessary business results.
Last year, Better Future set up a practical case study with one of our local partners in Lebanon. The local partner, a non-profit microfinance institution, faced the challenge of transforming into a regulated financial microfinance institution. This entailed a number of strategic challenges. How to organize the structure? How will the systems work? How do you take people along in this journey of change? What role should leadership play? Ammarens Bruggenkamp, Manager Energy West-Africa and MENA, participated in the leadership program and was interviewed about her experience.
“We started off with a number of questions. How does the organization and the management team work now? What kind of behaviour do we see? What are the underlying problems? A characteristic of an organization with a mission is that they are primarily relationship- and people-oriented. This can lead to conflict-avoidance and misconceptions. If we really want to transform something, we need to not only have an open mind, but also an open heart. What is happening within the team, between you and me? As external team members, we were a mirror for the local microfinance institution. We helped them gain insights about what was really going on. There was a need for clarity about roles, management, and responsibility.
At the same time, this process led us to reflect on and confront our own patterns. We saw how failing to address issues can have an impact on the functioning of a team, something that can radiate to the entire organization. The tipping point in the process was the realization that we all have different perspectives, none of which is better than the others.
Theory-U and the organization
What is good leadership? What does it mean to function well as a team? How do you address the underlying issues? What values do you want to work from? All of these questions were discussed. It helped to work with images, as we did in the prototyping session. Make the desired change happen before your eyes. Images show what you want to say without words. And make the transformation tangible.
What’s special about this trip is that you enter the field. It’s a chance to see where our investments end up. We were able to witness first-hand how refugees in Lebanon, who previously received no financial services, are now starting up small businesses. The experience made a strong impression on us, as well as on the leadership team of the local MFI.
U Theory and yourself
Going through the U was also personally valuable to me. I was able to reflect on how things are going in my new role as a manager. I got the feeling that I am on the right track and have gained more confidence. In moments when I feel I may not have everything under control, I start to doubt myself. By accepting that, and sharing those doubts with others, you come out stronger, precisely according to the adage “Trust the process”.
I now put my experiences into practice by building in reflection time with my team. I expose myself more easily, dare to introduce my vulnerability and thereby show my team members that it is okay to do that too. As a result, we not only function better in our roles, but also as human beings. And that benefits you, your organization, and the wider world.”