leadership.

First, Know Your Buffalo-Then Get the Right Spears!



You can never overcome a challenge, in your organization or in your personal endeavor that you have not identified. Using the wrong resources and/or strategies will not help overcome challenges, it could even make them worse.

It's been over 40 years but I can still hear the women in my community screaming because a buffalo had invaded us. Sometimes in the 60s myself and other youngsters, out of curiosity, decided to go to the local hospital and see a man we heard had been attacked by a buffalo. I still wish I had not gone-I couldn't tell whether the red badge item we saw was a human head or something else.

It takes 4-5 lions about 6-8 hours to bring down a buffalo-and that is if there are no other buffaloes around. Buffaloes, the most dangerous beasts I know, invaded our communities with an element of surprise-no one knew when they would come or from which direction. No one was save either. Schools were closed. People scurried for cover leaving gardens and marketplaces. Merchandise was left unattended.

These childhood memories of unpredictable the life in Kangundo, Kenya re-surface when I think about what's going on in American workplaces. The challenge of dealing with unpredictable changes, and not knowing about it just a short time before their impact, always leaves lasting memories.

You know some jobs have been relegated to oblivion by technology. Others have been shipped elsewhere as a result of the dynamics of international trade regulations. Competition has had its share of dictating who remains employed. We can't ignore that pure greed by some leaders has led to decisions and actions that have left masses feeling violated, vulnerable and ready for revenge-remember Enron?

Change can not be ignored. If addressed well, it leads to organizational prosperity, and professional and personal growth that would not have come any other way. That is what happened when intelligent natives dealt with their buffaloes and other unpredictable life threatening malice.

With a simple strategy, traditional warriors (equivalent of today's professionals in charge of their family's survival mean, security, and their community's prosperity) brought a buffalo down within minutes after it was spotted. Traditional knowledge has it that young men took their spears and arranged how their would attack the beast. One speared the buffalo and ran for his life. As the buffalo ran towards its attacker, then another warrior speared it from a different direction, thus forcing it to pursue the new source of pain. This, we were told, went on until the buffalo was brought down.

The lessons from this analogy are many. However, there are key points to keep in mind as your organization moves forward with change. It takes team effort to overcome challenges. Each individual has to use the spear (skills, experiences or resources) they have. There is no need or time to complain why change is coming. Those who can't change are unfortunately changed.

  • 1. What are "buffaloes" facing your industry?
  • 2. Does anyone who might be affected or could help, know what's going on?
  • 3. Who has what spear-the talents, experiences or resources that can be instrumental in chaotic times?
  • 4. Is communication part of the strategy to overcome challenges?
  • 5. What systems do you have in place for resolving conflicts that always arises in times of change?
  • 6. Are your leaders, employees and customers prepared to move forward in uncertain times?
  • 7. What motivation do your people have in overcoming challenges in your organization?
Here are some things to ponder in times of change:

  1. Change is never an aspect that will just go away-but it has proven to be a crucial component of growth.
  2. Each person is responsible for making change work. Being positive about change is contagious.
  3. Change and other growth-oriented aspects life require hope, focus and contribution.
  • 4. Flexibility in perspectives and actions is a needed tool for making change work.
  • 5. You are the CEO of your attitude, decisions and actions that make change work.
  • 6. Never waste time and energy trying to control what you can't-it's frustrating and worthless.
  • 7. The best security is to build your marketable skills.
  • 8. Exceptional customer service should be a priority at all times.
  • 9. Prepare for the next change

Author:.

Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku, a native of Kenya and resident of Idaho established Kituku & Associates in 1995 to provide new approaches for dealing with workplace challenges. He likens the unpredictability of change/challenges to life with water buffaloes that invaded African villages without warning, devastating social structures, uprooting the harmonious livelihood of villagers and leave them feeling insecure and stressed out. During chaotic times, people think that there is no solution for t...

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