At Anda Leadership we have the privilege of working with leaders in many parts of the world, mostly from countries whose economies are “developing.” We notice a recurring theme as we interact with these leaders.
At the beginning of the conversation the local leader expects that we have a packaged product that we want to sell (give) to him. His experience with Americans predisposes him to look for us to bring something that might or might not add real value to his ongoing efforts. This causes a dilemma. He wants to partner with us and he hopes that the benefits will be worth the Americans’ request. For example, an American ministry might offer a local leader a training event for his group. It might be a sweet deal for the local leader and his organization because the Americans offer to pay for all the expenses, including transportation, room, board, venue, etc. The local leader only needs to recruit the people. The local leader might find it difficult to turn down the offer even if it is not in line with his organization’s strategic direction.
So, when we explain that we do not have a packaged product and that we will not pay for the local expenses, the local leader might be confused. Generally it takes some back and forth communication before he understands that our agenda is to understand his organizational needs and to help him become more effective in what he wants to do. To increase our confidence that we are adding real value to the local situation, we listen and only respond when we hear the locals express a need for something that we can provide.
The interaction is an awkward dance. Americans are known as the initiators, or the lead dance partner. However, at Anda Leadership we defer to our partner, the local leader. The local leader is not used to this role and it takes some practice for him to become comfortable as the initiator. While he is learning this role, which we all agree is appropriate, it is difficult for us to measure effectiveness. Are we getting a full return on our, and our donors’, investment? It might not look like we are, so we need to take enough initiative to justify the ongoing investment in the relationship.
We work to genuinely serve and follow the lead of our local partners and provide something meaningful to them as we build enduring trust-relationships.