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08.06.2017 Opinion

Team Work, A Challenge For Young Africans

Kenneth Gyamerah
Opinion Team Work, A Challenge For Young Africans

Africa has brilliant individuals but our problem is that, it's difficult to work together. I think it's because our education and culture have trained us to prefer " it's mine" instead of " its ours"

Many brilliant young African leaders want to always be at the center stage.

I remember in last year November, when we were invited for the YALI West Africa Emerging Leaders Program, those of us who were in the Civic Society Leadership track were asked to build a tower.The materials to use were sheets of paper and cellotapes. This training was facilitated by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)

The facilitator, Mr Charles Vandyck, quickly formed a random group of 7 in the class.

My team was made up of 3 Cameroonians, 1 Nigerian and 3 Ghanaians.

Every group was supplied with sheets of papers, cellotapes and a pair of scissors.

The rule of the leadership game was to see the group who would build the tallest standing tower. About 45 minutes was apportioned to complete the project.

I had a previous experience during Challenges Worldwide, a United Kingdom volunteers program assessment I attended in January that year. My group emerged winners.

With this background knowledge, I told my new team mates at YALI that, I had a similar experience in this kind of exercise.

Our major problem was the foundation of the tower because, if the foundation is not strong, no matter how tall the tower would be, it may not stand.

So I suggested we delegate responsibilities .Within my team were those who did the folding and cutting of papers, those who were putting the papers together with the help of cello tape and those who were in charge of building the foundation.

For about 15 minutes, we were able to get our folded papers ready but then ,my plan on the foundation failed. Yes! I failed. The tower was not able to stand. I was like what!

I did same thing in the UKAid assessment and it worked so why this time. I became a bit frustrated and realized the team were down because other groups were already having a standing tower.At this juncture, we had to quickly decide on another strategy to build a formidable foundation.We had only 30 minutes left. Everybody suggested a plan and in the end, Opetunde Adepeju, a Nigerian fellow's suggestion was agreed by the team mates.

Ope ,as we affectionately call her suggested we allow her to build the foundation while the rest keep on folding the papers and binding them together with the help of the celloptape.

In about 15 minutes time we were able to build our tower.

We made a loud scream Hurray!!! and everybody in the room got our attention. At the end of the day, we emerged third in the competition .We thought that,all hope was lost because we came face to face with time due to the confusion which almost disrupted our cohesion as a team.

The Lessons I Learnt from the leadership game
1.We realized that, after 15 minutes, almost all the groups were having a standing tower. We were yet to build a foundation. But at the end of the project, most of the group's tower couldn't stand with time.They started falling. In your leadership journey,

never feel bad when others take the lead. Work hard on your project so that, it can stand the test of time.(sustainability)

2.The strategy which worked in a project may not work in other similar projects.As leaders, we must always vary our methodologies.I thought I knew it all, but in the end my idea failed, it took the timely intervention of Opetunde to make a formidable foundation.

3.When I had a similar encounter in the UKAid assessment we emerged first with the same idea used for the foundation but at YALI, it didn't work.When things doesn't work, don't quit. Push harder.

4.Division of work during team projects is very important to becoming successful.

5.Unity is strength. As young Africans, we must do our best to work together in solving our problems with African solutions. Whether Akan, Yoruba, Ibgo, Bansu ,Hausa or Zulu ,we are one people with one common goal to make our continent great.

6.Don't rely on individual glory. It's good to achieve success with a team than doing it alone. We must learn to say it's ours, we did it together instead of it's mine ,I did it all by myself. We need people in our work.

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