Hello my dear reader,
I’ve successfully finished my Masters in Human Resources Management (MHRM) program at AUB. My focus was on Training and Development, thus I developed an NGO Leadership & Management Competency Model. It led to a tentative design of a training program that I will later develop to be offered to NGOs, possibly in partnership with some of the top universities in the region.
I did in-depth literature review on the topic of core competencies for Leadership & Management in NGOs in Lebanon and globally. Following the research, I organized 2 focus groups, bringing in the insights of experienced professionals in NGOs, Training and Development. Based on the findings, I published a survey to further verify the findings and have a wider input from a diverse background of individuals.
This mixed-methods research project resulted in a detailed analysis of competencies and training and development preferences for the target group. Here is a brief report of the findings: NGO Management Leadership Competency Model
Moreover, the above video is a 30min video of the defense I did on the project in front of the jury and here is the link of the article published on the Lebanese Development Network Website: LDN Article.
If you have any suggestions, questions or need any clarifications, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Now that we’ve embarked on 2014, and after spending some time reflecting on how everything went in 2013 in my life, I’d like to share some of the milestones and things that were important to me in 2013 and some of those that I have planned for 2014.
Over the years, I’ve learned that when we share and write what we have achieved, we value it more, and when we do the same for what we dream and plan of, we somehow become more psychologically motivated and committed to achieve it. So I do recommend you share the same, whether here as a comment on this blog posts or with your network somehow.
So here it goes:
· Read A Lot: Just a quick estimate, I read around 3 articles daily on topics of interest, each ranging from 1 to 5 pages. So if I take an average, I read about 1,000+ different topics in 2013 alone.
· Learned to Let Go: For someone like me who likes to stay on top of things and feeling in-control, it was a tough journey. But nevertheless, I did manage to let go of some personal relations, roles in NGOs and the actual need to be in-control of so many things.
· Spent More Quality Time: Yes, this was a key goal for me to have a more balanced life in 2013, and I am glad to say I truly value the quality time I spent with family, friends and loved ones.
· Traveled to New Places: In 2013 alone, I traveled to new cities I never visited before and are London, Oxford, Cappadocia, Mersin, Khartoum and Dubai.
· Slept More Daily: As of early December, I managed to sustain a 6~8 hour sleep per day (up from just 3~4 hours previously).
· Got Promoted: Through my work at CMCS Lebanon, I got promoted to the position of Deputy Operations Manager and will be starting my new role as of January 2014.
· Coordinated A New Program at AUB-CEC: Also through CMCS Lebanon and in collaboration with AUB CEC, I’m proud to say I played a key role in launching and coordinating the Region’s 1st Project Management Postgraduate Diploma. But to be honest, team work is everything, and the team I work with at CMCS and AUB are the ones who truly made it all happen.
· Trained A Lot: Throughout 2013 I gave more than 10 training courses at AUB and others, while I’ve also introduced a new certificate based training course about Business Analysis called Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) which I’m also the only certified professional in Lebanon till now.
NGOS & Volunteer Work:
· Transitioned Out of Aie Serve: For 7 years, I served as a co-founder and president of Aie Serve and it was about time to let a new leadership come in place and shine. So I’m proud to say that we successfully did an elections where a whole new Board was elected and I transitioned to become one of the organization’s Advisors.
· Revived Global Shapers Beirut Hub: In December, leaders of the Global Shapers Community from the World Economic Forum visited Beirut, and with their support and some Shapers in Beirut, I’m glad to say that I’m playing a role in reviving the previously dormant Beirut Hub. Thus 6 new Global Shapers were recruited in December.
· Launched A Youth Project at PMI Lebanon Chapter: With the support of my fellow PMI Lebanon Chapter Board, we’re launching a new Project Management for Youth Initiative in collaboration with PMI- Educational Foundation.
· Partnered with CSR AL Ahli: Another highlight for me is making a partnership between Aie Serve and CSR Al Ahli Group to provide Mentors for CSR in Action program to give Social Innovators who are working on serving the community the needed support to succeed.
· Coached, Mentored & Trained Youth: Throughout the year, I realized I enjoy and become full of energy when I am training or coaching or mentoring youth, and thus I spent hours and days with 10s of them in training workshops, meetings, sessions and retreats.
· Take Care of My Body: A healthy mind is in a healthy body they say, thus I’ll be focusing taking better care of my own body whether through sports, a healthier diet or just simply less stressful schedule.
· Sustain Balance: Keep on the sleeping habits, take more vacations and continue spending quality time in abundance.
· Keep Reading: With my current reading habits I guess I’m on the right track.
· Excel At Managing Operations: Now that my new role involves working in Operations Management, I’ll be going the extra mile to learn more about it and excel at it.
· Expand Training Regionally: Now that CMCS has some stellar training courses and workshops, it’s prime time to take them regionally in 2014.
· Start My Masters: I’ve got my eye on 2 Master Programs, and will be registering in one of them before the end of year if God wills. Eventually, it’s about time I proceed my academic growth after acquiring 3 professional certificates in the past 3 years which are PMP, CBAP and GPM-b.
NGOs & Volunteer Work:
· Support Aie Serve’s Growth & Sustainability: With a new Board in place and a Strategic Planning Retreat scheduled early January, I’ll be doing all I can to ensure the new Board and all Aie Servians continue their work properly, grow and enjoy the journey.
· Grow Global Shapers Beirut Hub: Now that we have a bigger team, January will be the month when the Hub will do their first event.
· Transition Out of More NGOs: New challenges arise every now and then and in 2014, I’ll make sure to take on some of those, but to do that, I’ll need to drop of some of the current load. In this context, I’ll be transitioning out of my role in PMI Lebanon Chapter and Alumni UNESCO Club.
· Building A Regional Network for Rule of Law: Through being a John Smith Trust Fellow, I’ll be working with other fellows all around the region from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, and Bahrain, to build and institutionalize a network of chapters in each country to promote and work on rule of law.
That is about it for the time being, and I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps got inspired by a few things here and there.
I’d really like to get to know your reflections on 2013 and your plans for 2014! 🙂
Believe it or not, volunteer work changed my life. The first time I volunteered I was 11 years old! Yes that young. In fact I’m glad my school (ISC) had something called Student Life Organization (SLO) which engages students in their school life to run this student led organization that acts something like a Student Affairs in a typical school.
Starting at that young age helped me overcome some personal weak points, from shyness to knowing how to interact and deal with people and responsibilities. Yet the seed it planted in me…didn’t stop there, it grew multiple folds to flourish in my university life and beyond.
From the first year of university, I just had that drive to give back to community, to serve, to grow, to meet people and so I ended up joining student societies and clubs at my university (AUB) as well as cofounding an NGO called Aie Serve among my involvement with many others that I am still involved in till this day whether as founder or Board Member or Advisor or simply as a member.
So here are some of the things I believe volunteer work gave me:
- Opened my mind to new ways of thinking about life.
- Gave me a purpose beyond my own self and my day to day life.
- Got me to meet the most inspiring people I would have never dreamed of knowing.
- Made me more friends that I could have possibly done in 50 years.
- Gave me life changing experiences and challenges that made me mature way faster than many of my colleagues and friends that were not involved in volunteer work.
- Made me feel proud about the achievements I was able to accomplish with the teams I worked with to make Lebanon a better place to live in. From improving the life of underserved children to giving back to nature through tree planting and beach cleanups to mentoring youth to training and sharing knowledge with aspiring young leaders to many many maaany more.
- Gave me opportunities to learn how to manage projects, lead teams, do strategic planning, explore my training skills, brainstorm for ideas that will make the world a better place…just to mention a few.
- Lead me to having a career in consultancy and training that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t do all the volunteer work I did, simply because a typical university life and a 8-5 job wouldn’t have given me half as much opportunities to learn, grow and meet new people.
So my recommendation to you, no matter how old you are or what your social/economic/academic/marital status is, if you’re not engaged in some volunteer work already, then get to it! You can never do too much volunteer work, the more the merrier, and trust me it just gets better with time, just make sure you join the organizations or causes that you feel passionate about or at least interested in, the rest will follow!
Other interesting posts:
As posted earlier, I’m hosting exceptional guest writers on my blog to share some of their experiences, knowledge and perspective that are worth shedding light on.
In this context, my second guest writer is Mrs. Dania Dbaibo Darwish a holder of a BBA & an MA in Psychology from AUB. She is an Associate Certified Professional Life & Career Coach, a Certified Master level NLP practitioner, a Certified Hypnotherapist, & a trained Counselor. She has a background career in Sales & Marketing of consumer goods; & as a Psychology instructor at AUB. For several years now, she runs her own practice at Coaching Your 3Ps (Personal & Professional Progress) as a Coach, Counselor, Hypnotherapist, & Trainer. Dania is the founding president of the Lebanese Coach Association (LCA) & is very active in other NGOs. She’s known for her dynamic & positive personality.
Enjoy the read!
You all learned how to talk, but did you all learn how to communicate effectively? Effective and positive communication is an advanced skill that requires your conscious practice and effort until it is mastered. It serves living harmoniously with others, persuading, and influencing family, friends, and colleagues on the job. Once you know few secrets about proper communication, your chances of succeeding in all life domains grow up exponentially. Furthermore, your internal voice will frequently be screaming “Victoryyyy!” in major disagreements as you remain totally agreeable to your counterparts. All it takes is entering the mindset of the person(s) you’re communicating with, and then positively bringing them to your own. As a first step, here are some few guiding essentials for casual conversations, interactions, requests, arguments, or confrontations:
Build rapport: Subtly match and mirror the person you’re talking with (i.e. get in the rhythm of the way they’re speaking, body posture, use of language, etc….). Generally, people who are like each other tend to like each other, so do your best to synchronize your way with theirs.
Listen (don’t just hear): We have two ears and one mouth mainly to listen twice as much as we speak. Instead of mentally rehearsing your next argument, actively listen to what really matters to the other person. Their needs will be your guide to satisfy instead of deviating off-topic.
Words, tone, and body language: In the famous Mehrabian study, these turned out to have an effect of 8%, 37%, and 55% respectively. Never underestimate, therefore, the profound effects of the silent messages behind your unspoken words. It’s “how” you say things that gives much more meaning.
Address them by name often: You’ll be reaching out for their most prominent identity and softly caressing their ego each time. It will sound like flattery.
Maintain eye contact: This ensures you’re retaining connection. It gives the message that you’re interested in what they’re saying and that they’re heard. Remember how it feels when you’re talking to someone and they look away or roll their eyes? Yes…. Utterly disrespectful!
Empathize: Use your interpersonal intelligence and the ability to be in the other person’s shoes to identify with their feeling, ideas, and situation. Ask yourself: what is it like to be in their position. Paraphrase what they’re saying when you can. This conveys that they’re well understood.
Always ask good questions: You can always direct the flow of your conversation through asking open ended questions. This is a sure way to release your counterpart’s defensiveness and probe them to come to mutual conclusions. Avoid giving unsolicited advice till you’re asked.
Once you arm yourself with the above necessities in your interactions, you can further use the following tips to make any point you want with least resistance by your counterpart. You can disagree without being disagreeable; influence while valuing the other person’s stance; and pleasantly direct others’ behavior. Depending on the argument or the situation, you can:
Get them to agree more: For beginning conversations, ask questions to get them to agree on, say, 3 things. This is part of building rapport. Questions like: the weather is too hot this morning, isn’t it? The traffic was unbearable today, right? You can, then, introduce your request or the point you want to make.
Focus on giving feedback: At times, you’d want to appraise a piece of work or assess a situation. Don’t criticize by just saying what’s not right. Praise the good points as well. As a whole, your opinion will be better received.
Sandwich your feedback: Whenever you have something negative to say, make sure you sandwich it between two positive statements. Start off by complimenting the other person somehow (relevant attributes, qualities, or work); give your negative opinion (in a nice way of course); and then finish up your statements by praising again. These positive statements act as a sandwich buffering any negativity sensed in between.
Feed forward: When you give feedback, you may need to state the preferred scenario for a specific outcome (e.g. behavior or way). It is an assertiveness technique used in relationships (parent to child, or in partnerships) and mentoring. Don’t remain vague about future direction. Probe them by asking questions to get to the ideal response, or suggest it when they don’t know.
Use the “agreement frame”: Nothing beats defensiveness than agreeing first. Use points in your counterpart’s view to agree with, first. Say things like: “I agree that…. And I respect that…. And I really appreciate that….” Then say: “at the same time, I think that…..” stating your disagreement. Never use the word “but” after agreeing. It negates everything you said before it.
The pleasant “no”: Don’t get caught in saying “yes” to others’ requests at your own expense. When you offer an explanation to why you can’t handle their request, you’ll be saying “yes” to yourself. You can start off by saying: “Yes, I appreciate your resorting to me to handle this. I really would like to help you out. At the same time, I have to…..” and list the reasons why you can’t while offering an alternative way or a later time to do it.
Focus on solutions: Avoid getting sucked up in discussing the problem and rather consider the alternatives to resolving it (more on “win-win” solutions). In doing that, consider the interests and benefits to both of you (you get that through empathetic listening and asking probing questions).
The above tips are really powerful in maintaining positive interactions with others. After all, research shows that for any relationship to thrive, it is necessary to have 5 positive statements to tip off the effect of one negatively stated comment. To become a positive effective communicator requires a conscious decision. With practice, it will become second nature like all other arts to be mastered
In the following article I will try to extract the most notable lessons learned from my experience in the IT field for the past few years.
A quick overview for my dear readers who don’t know my background, I studied Computer Science(CMPS) at the American University of Beirut(AUB) while working at the Computing and Networking Services (CNS) on campus. Following my graduation I worked in IT development at a banking/financial institution while doing some free lance web-development and IT related consultancies.
Overall, I had my share of working on both hardware and software…and the lessons learned all fit in together and I will be pinpointing them as briefly as possible in the below lines:
- No problem is too complex. The key to success in this is to decompose the complexity of the issue into smaller manageable parts. Afterwards one only needs to resolve a group of simpler issues that fit in together.
- Automation is the key to ongoing growth and sustainability of many companies. This is due to the fact that any requested behavior can be mimicked and coded accordingly, with as many exceptions as needed, replacing the need for human interaction with machines.
- Technology is advancing faster than we expect. The rate at which technology is evolving allows for sophisticated solutions to be designed and implemented with growing speed and ease. What was nearly impossible 10 years ago can be developed in a week today.
- IT team leaders can make or break the company. One of the keys for successful IT teams is a team leader who knows how to leverage the expertise of the team, provide enough autonomy while still closely overseeing the work.
- Programming in multiple languages is becoming a must. Knowing one programming language …in our times…is no longer enough to keep with the pace of advancement and to develop the solutions the best fit the needs.
- GUI is king. Graphical user interface and packaging became as important as the actual functionality of the solutions requested as users demand the simplest and most intuitive tools they can have. People want eye-candy with minimal intellectual effort to use the applications.
In this context, and after checking the above with some of my friends and colleagues, the same lessons apply in most fields and I will definitely be taking those lessons with me in my consultancy and management work from now on.
I hope they help you in one way or another in your career…and I’m open for your comments and suggestions as always. 🙂