Unitec NZ Pacific NGO Management and Leadership: Reflective Journal of Alfred Ralifo of lessons learnt during the first module of the course

Day One: Monday 22nd March 2010:

Our first assignment for this course is to write a reflective journal for each day of the week. I learnt that effective and successful managers and leaders keep reflective journals where they reflect on the events of the day and plan for the future. I now realised that it is imperative to keep a reflective journal in order for me to evaluate the proceedings of each day that is of a learning experience, why it is important and how this learning has changed me in terms of my behaviour and attitude. Keeping a reflective journal will help me evaluate and assess the day's activities, identify areas of strengths and weaknesses and look for ways for improvement in a more organised way. Form hereon, I will keep a reflective journal for myself and will encourage my colleagues in my organisation to do the same to help us become better and more effective managers and leaders.

Day Two: Tuesday 23rd March 2010:

Today, I had to identify my top ten personal values which are friendship, diversity, community, creativity, trust, aesthetic appreciation, concern for the environment, initiative, social justice and sustainability. Then I had to identify the top ten values for LäjeRotuma Initiative and prioritise them and these are concern for the environment, sustainability, initiative, community, cultural awareness, aesthetic appreciation, empowerment, friendship, diversity and social justice.

I learnt that most of my values are the same as those of LäjeRotuma Initiative. This explains my fervour for volunteering for LäjeRotuma Initiative and its vision for Rotuma. However in order for LäjeRotuma to be more effective, the volunteers must share the same values or realign their values with those of LäjeRotuma Initiative. It also explains why we have some volunteers who are quiet difficult to work with as they do not share the same values or are unable to realign their values with those of the organisation.

I think I will use this exercise when we recruit volunteers in the future so that we will be able to recruit volunteers who will be passionate about their work because they share the same vision and values with LäjeRotuma Initiative. This exercise will also be useful in ensuring that LäjeRotuma Initiative clarifies its values and encourages our pool of volunteers to clarify and align their values to the roles they play in the organisation so that they are passionate and motivated and be more attentive to their tasks, be more productive, efficient, loyal, and get fulfilment out of their work and contributing more effectively towards achieving the mission and vision of the organisation.

Day Three: Wednesday 24th March 2010:

Today we were asked to pair up with someone. My partner was Umai from the Federal States of Micronesia who was supposed to narrate an important incident that happened to her in the past 12 months while I tried to distract her. While she was recounting her experiences to me, I used different ways of distracting her like facial expressions, yawns, lack of eye contact, humming, chewing and fidgeting. She was finding it very difficult to talk to me as I was not really listening to her and she felt left out. The activity was really funny and exciting but I learnt a very important lesson which was to pay attention to colleagues or volunteers or to anyone who is in front of me and is talking to me about their feelings, views, opinions, suggestions or ideas. I now realised that it is utterly and totally rude and disrespectful for me not to pay attention to anyone talking to me. I learnt that paying attention makes others feel good about themselves which helps to build good relationships within my organisation. Paying attention allows me to listen and take into consideration their opinions and concerns and it also makes my colleagues or volunteers within my organisation realise that I value and respect their opinions and views. This will make them realize that they are very dear to the organisation thus boosting their moral and inspire them to be more enthusiastic about their work. At the same time, it allows me to be more acquainted with the needs, view points and emotions of my colleagues and volunteers. In the future I will pay more attention and concentrate when people talk to me and will encourage everyone within my organisation to do the same.

Day 4 Thursday 25th March 2010:

Today, I had to use the Paul Hersey Leadership Style Model to assess my personal leadership style. The four leadership styles in this model were Telling, Selling, Participating and Delegating. I learnt that my primary personal leadership style is Participating. I learnt from this activity that there is no right style. I find that it is difficult for me to be Delegating because I do not actually have complete trust on volunteers to be able to effectively complete tasks on their own. I think from this moment forward, I will develop my new volunteers slowly from the first stage of Telling, to Selling to Participating to Delegating so that they can be more familiar with the organisation and I can then stand back and have complete trust in them to take lead roles in some of the projects. This will then free me to concentrate on other tasks and avoid stress.

Day 5 Friday 26th March 2010:

“Stress” was the buzz of the day. We had to identify symptoms of stress and strategies to deal with stress. I learnt from this activity that stress is very serious and detrimental to health. I now realise that I go through a lot of stressful situations without dealing with the stress despite the fact that I have a million and one strategies to manage stress. I find that I am not able to do this because I did not incorporate these strategies into my “to do list” or into my annual work plan. In addition, I have my self image that I am “immortal” and will never burn out has lead me to not consider my health seriously. I now have accepted that I am a mere mortal that will burn out someday if I do not pay attention to my body and manage my stress levels. From this moment onwards, I will add my stress relieving strategies into my “to do” list and also my annual work plan. I will also try and take time out regularly every week to do other things apart from work. Managing my stress levels will make me more effective as I will be able to concentrate on my tasks with a clear head and with lots of vigour. I will also encourage my colleagues in LäjeRotuma Initiative to formulate a “Stress Management Policy” to manage and avoid stress amongst the volunteers so that they can have better health, better working relationships, and be more effective.

Participants of NGO Management and Leadership Course