Director’s Blog: Learning everyday lessons in leadership
April 26, 2021
For those of who don’t know me, this is my first job leading a nonprofit organization. I accepted this position last year, as many things attracted me to Konbit Sante, not the least of which is that it is a values-driven organization that keeps the people of Cap-Haitien at the center of every decision that is made. Those key values resonate well with me.
When I accepted this job, I had some idea of what it would entail. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. What I also knew is that it would be a rewarding and gratifying job, especially in terms of the impact of our work on the ground.
I don’t think I expected to love this job as much as I do. I am enjoying many different aspects of it. I was at a point in my life where I needed a different kind of challenge, and my journey with Konbit Sante so far has already exceeded my expectations. In the past eight months, I have learned much more as a public health professional, as an advocate for social justice, and, most importantly, as a leader.
One of the major challenges I often face is managing the priorities of our partners on the ground and developing the right strategies that support and address those needs, all while keeping the mission and goals of Konbit Sante front and center.
As a new leader, I am learning something new and interesting each day. Many times, the lessons push me out of my comfort zone. I have been fortunate to partner with an executive coach who assures me that these uncomfortable moments are important growth moments! She has been helping me to not only develop in areas of growth, but to also fully understand my strengths. We work together to align these qualities and skills in a strategic framework with which I hope to lead the organization, work with staff members, and enhance the mission and vision of the organization effectively. During our sessions, I have learned the following key concepts that I will now always carry with me in leadership:
- Change is constant. Konbit Sante is currently experiencing many changes. The most obvious change is my arrival to the organization and the transition of a deeply tenured and impactful leader. We also have new staff members joining our organization. With each new individual, the energy and dynamics of the organization shifts, even if it’s just a little bit. Change can be difficult, as we are creatures of habit. I am learning to embrace those variations and to let things flow while still maintaining focus on our core mission and values. I am excited to welcome new ideas that may be born from all these healthy changes!
- Everything is part of a process. The transitions our organization is experiencing is part of a larger process. This process feeds individual and group growth, creative energy, a higher level of connection, and a deeper appreciation for our work together. I am learning how all the seemingly small changes fit together and to be patient, as this process takes time. One thing remains clear: we are all going through this together, and we will only get stronger.
- Build strong teams. No one person can be successful alone. In a strong team, each team member provides support and encourages the others to grow. I believe deeply in individual development and equally in team development. It is evident that the success of Konbit Sante is due to the engagement and involvement of years of strong teamwork, a group of dynamic people doing thoughtful work collectively. I am committed to continuing this important work!
- Language plays a key role in advocacy. I have long observed the way in which people describe and talk about other countries, and Haiti in particular. While only a portion of the country is experiencing unrest, the entire country is viewed as chaotic. What has become most evident to me is that as a collective community, we must reshape the narrative of this beautiful country. Konbit Sante has always believed in telling the stories of hope and encouragement rather than desperation and loss. We will continue to play an active role in contextualizing the public health work we do in order to provide a broader and more meaningful understanding of the country.
- Community building and nurturing is crucial. Konbit Sante is a community within a larger community, of this world. We have accomplished so much as an organization because of the trusted relationships built and fostered over the years. Our small (and mighty!) community of staff, board members, honorary advisors, partners, donors, volunteers, and supporters is unlike any other. I recognize that without this community, Konbit Sante could not accomplish nearly as much. We will continue to build and nurture our unique community and network, as this is key to satisfying our mission.
I feel excited and energized by the opportunities standing in front of our organization right now. I support the changes, the uncomfortable moments, the process we design and redesign, and the growth we experience together. I will always look for ways in which I can grow to be a stronger leader, and I will remain open to all the lessons that come with this work. I am confident that Konbit Sante will continue to strengthen and that through our collective efforts, we will continue to keep the people of Cap-Haitien at the center of our focus.