How Skoll Foundation’s #WTFuture Forum Helped Improve My Thought Process
Written by +SocialGood Connector Emmanuel Nyame
Two weeks ago, I was was privileged to be able to add my voice to the ongoing conversations at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, including the Social Good Summit, the SDG Media Zone, We The Future, the Global People Summit, and more.
As a +SocialGood Connector at UNGA, I directly represented the United Nations Foundation, Skoll Foundation, and +SocialGood. A big thanks to the amazing teams behind these organisations!
The United Nations General Assembly, held annually, brings together country representatives, governments, and business people to deliberate on the future of the world. The week-long schedule of activities have had a tremendous impact on my thought process and so I would love to share a couple of them, especially about the We The Future forum. Earlier blogs touched on my experience at the Social Good Summit and the SDG Media Zone.
The We The Future forum was of panel discussions that sparked emotions and inspired people to focus more on becoming a better version of themselves. I know the fellow +SocialGood Connectors and Advisors who were present can attest to that. If you missed the We The Future forum or could not follow the discussion online, the following raw lessons can help you in your day-to-day activities so you can also become a better version of you. Enjoy!
To listen is to pay attention to what somebody is saying. It is very easy to be consumed by your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and theories such that you refuse to give ears to other’s opinions and ideas. But you know what, no matter how much you think you know, you cannot know everything.
Listening to others does not mean they are better than you or that you do not have some information. It only affirms your decision to add more to what information you already have. This gives you an added advantage over the one you are listening to. Bernard M. Baruch adds that ‘most of the successful people I have known are the ones who do more listening than talking’.
In this regard, it is essential for us to listen to people to decipher areas where they might be facing challenges so we can offer help. It is also important to give an ear to conversations about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so as to develop solutions which can help achieve them.
A question is a sentence, phrase, or word that asks for information or is used to test someone’s knowledge. Questioning is an interpersonal skill and is closely related to the skill of listening. Questioning helps clear any doubt you may have. It brings out ideas you may not have known. Ask your mentors, coaches, teachers etc. how they made it this far; ask what their fears were, ask what influenced the choice of their enterprise, ask how they overcame their challenges, ask about their failures and successes.
Shannon L. Alder says “Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, ‘what else could this mean?’ ”
It grieves my heart to say that some enterprises have folded up because of some strife among their board, management, and staff. Teamwork has been dissolved due to some sort of strife or misunderstanding. Conflict is inevitable. As humans we have different ideas, goals, values, beliefs, and needs and since the entrepreneur often engages with people with different personalities, conflicts may occur.
Learning to manage conflicts is integral to a high-performance team. All people, both personally and professionally, can benefit from learning conflict management skills. Teamwork is also a necessary factor in achieving the SDGs. Typically we can respond to conflict by using one of these five (5) modes; competing, avoiding, accommodating, compromising, and collaborating. None of these is wrong to use, but there are right and wrong times to use each (Algert, N.E & Watson. K.(2002)).
A boss I was working with always took blame for whatever went wrong in the office. He praised us for what went right. He never glorified himself for team successes. Remember, the disciples of Jesus were amazed that He washed their feet. They never expected that! Some entrepreneurs easily flout themselves about for their achievements and make their subordinates feel so inferior as though they can never match them.
This habit neither encourages initiative nor boosts the morale of followers. Entrepreneurs who possess the skill of servant leadership always recognize the dignity of human beings and so must treat others as he would have them treat him. He sets a good example for others built on truth, integrity and honesty. He is a source of energy, empathy and earned trust.
You can do it by yourself, I know! However, the truth is you cannot do everything by yourself. You will definitely need the support of other people in certain areas. It is therefore necessary to cultivate the skill of networking with others in your field and different fields of business endeavors. Take your partners’ phone numbers and e-mail addresses and always keep in touch with them and be approachable.
According to a business dictionary, benchmarking is defined as a measurement of an organisation’s policy, products, programs, strategies, etc. and their comparison with standard measurements or similar measurements of its peers. This is one skill I used to demonstrate back in my school days and I am sure that most students do it. I often asked my academically inclined classmates the page or chapter they reached in terms of course outlines or notes and their understanding of the content. Although this seemed useless, it gave me some hope and confidence before examination period.
The entrepreneur needs to nurture these skills for a continuous growth and development of his or her business. There are many successful businessmen and women in the market. It is not wrong to measure your performance with theirs to be sure you are on the right track. It is said that if you want to go fast, walk alone but if you want to go far, walk with others. All that I want to say is that it is possible to make an impact in any areas of the SDGs. But before then, you need to take that bold step to start! Have a great day.