A crucial moment

A few years ago, I (Margriet) was a participant of a Better Future leadership program. I am working on an international level in a one of the largest banks of The Netherlands, leading a team of 15 professionals. My fellow participant was Fatou, a lady living in a small village in The Gambia, taking care for her 5 children on her own because her husband left her. She is the treasurer of a local credit union, her salary was less than two euro per day.

In The Gambia, we worked for several days on the issue how to give more people access to loans at the credit union, together with 3 other participants. After our interactions in the village we were going to present the outcome of our work to the other teams. I was eager to do the presentation, that is what I used to be good at, I wanted to show my great ideas and be in the front of the group. But….. during this leadership program, I realized that Fatou had to bring these ideas further when I would be back in The Netherlands. She had to convince the people in the village and the managers of the credit union. So, my contribution would be to empower Fatou instead of being ‘in the picture’ myself.

Finally, we saw an inspiring speech of Fatou, myself sitting next to her, keeping my hands on my back, supporting Fatou with a big smile.

Back home I realized I normally wanted to do the things and solve the issues myself. This experience was the ‘eye opener’ I needed to give more space to my team members to take up more responsibilities so they could grow in their roles. Eventually, I got time to work out strategic and innovative ideas which I enjoyed much more.

Now after some years Fatou has her own shop, able to take full care of her children by her income, including education and healthcare. The credit union doubled the number of clients.

I climbed the ladder in the bank and choose a focus in my career where my impact on the company and the society is in line with my energy and passion.

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