By Gretchen Moran —
Shortly after I finished my fellowship at the Severn Leadership Group, I was invited to Nigeria to help a small NGO build and scale software systems for a network of modern, innovative primary health care clinics. I had not dreamed that I would be presented the perfect opportunity to test out my new leadership legs in such a direct way, but then, there it was, and my family and I were on the plane to Africa.
There are many foreigners and locals alike that see the need in Nigerian communities, and dedicate themselves to finding solutions that will elevate Nigerians out of poverty and oppression. I spent two years working alongside a myriad of noble efforts. I observed everything from solidifying human rights, to improving equitable distribution of health care services to bootstrapping small businesses for local Nigerians that lived in shanties. I witnessed grassroots operations funded with shoestring budgets that were educating girls about their reproductive rights. I saw massive amounts of donor dollars being directed toward initiatives like eradicating polio. Sadly, many of these efforts struggled with inefficiencies, corruption, lack of cooperation and some ended in failure. The efforts with the most durable and tangible long-term positive outcomes had one thing in common, and it was not the amount of money, time or resources that were dedicated to the cause (though money, time and resources always helped). Inevitably, the common factor in success was a strong leadership team that clearly defined the mission.
I was able to scale an engineering team from 2 to 14 resources, architect the technologies that would support a state-of-the-art digital health platform, and radically change the team culture in a positive way for my organization using the skills I practiced and refined with the Severn Leadership Group.
SLG’s investment in me as a potential great leader translated to jobs for dozens and better healthcare for thousands of Nigerians. I am far more effective and wildly more motivated to celebrate my team’s successes. I prepare my teams to be change agents and I recognize and reward courage and ownership when I see it in any shape or form. I can speak confidently of the return on investment made in leadership development because I have experienced it firsthand.