Ten years of service for World Vision are beginning to come to an end. Six years ago, I signed a contract of employment Finland World Vision CEO and I jumped into a new world. Before that, I had already served for four years in association’s board of directors.
What is the role of a leader?
Leader’s job is to create the conditions for success. The role of the leader is to allow (not to stop) good ideas emerging from the organization and to stop activities that do not build the implementation of the strategy. Wisdom is needed to separate the two. The role of the leader is to increase and enable responsibility, success and development, empower and responsibility . Encourage when one is down or scared and defend when one is threatened. The role of the director is defined through responsibility. It is good for a leader to understand when it is a time to step aside and when a new kind of responsibility and competence is needed.
Working at World Vision has been so rewarding and interesting that I was already starting to feel like I needed this organization more than they needed me to. Am I in love with relevance, power, admiration, respect, excitement? Do I still have something to give, or have I become addicted myself? What else could I learn and where to serve?The experience of moving from business to a NGO has been great. I couldn’t guess how much more difficult it is to raise funds and how much more complicated it is compared to the more straightforward actions of companies. Such exchanges between sectors should happen more, one way and the other. Similar laws and logics on both sides, from slightly different perspectives. People are the same regardless of industry or geography.
In gratefull and heavy heart, I leave this stage of my working life behind and move on to a new one. I am thankful with everything I have learned and seen and I am glad that this knowledge and learning is still valued in business life as well. The decision to leave was clear, but still difficult. Gratitude remains.
My greatest admiration goes to our employees , especially in the field. All volunteers and people who work hard and brightly in difficult circumstances. And definitely to those children, men, women who have been able to change the direction of their lives, even if the circumstances do not support it at first sight. I have met with ordinary people in every corner of the world, in poor conditions, and have felt minority compared to their courage and attitude. There are thousands of stories.
Our Finnish organization has grown, albeit not in headcount, to enormous mental and professional proportions. They have the courage, competence, enthusiasm and desire for service. They know every day why we do this work and they strive for better every day. We have grown into leaders, decision makers and innovators . There is still potential for anything!
We have created a rhythm and routine, a systematic dialogue, both with each other, as with our supporters, partners, and ‘beneficiaries’. We have been paranoid, tenacious, kind, and advocates of weaker rights. Our organization is in a blessed state. Let it continue.Thank you!
What have I seen?
These years can accommodate hundreds of hours at airports, waiting rooms, jeeps, airplanes and offices.I have sat on sweaty plastic chairs with a bottle of water in my hand, hundreds of hours. I have danced, sung, played with, saluted, consecrated water points, wells tried pumps, forest pruning, increase peanuts, tree planting. I have visited scary looking toilets trying to avoid waste and spiders. Eaten strange foods in very strange conditions. Crickets, offal, frogs, ‘meat stews’, rice, rice, rice and rice. Tasted fresh, fly-colored honey and sipped horse milk. Overnight in a yurt, container, inns under mosquito nets listening to exotic sounds.
Long speeches under acacia trees, in schools, slums, sweaty offices, and cool evenings at the hotel. Admired the sunrises and sunsets. Awakened to the barking of dogs and the sound of roosters in the dark countryside. Woke up at the time of the cock crowing and returned in the darkness of the night. Enjoyed fabulous meals at white tablecloth restaurants, after a long day of dusty travel with protein bars. Went to cold shower or survived evening washes in a container with the power of one bucket, or with just clays
I have met with bishops, religious leaders, ambassadors, police directors, officers, security guards and vendors, drug addicts, street children, refugees, every effort lost, who have fled war, injured, victims of violence, traumatized, mentally handicapped, offenders. Seamstresses, farmers, fishermen, landfill diggers , entrepreneurs, hairdressers, cleaners. And lots and lots of kids, sick, healthy, apathetic or laughing, shy and lonely, abandoned and loved.
I have sat in seminars in the government office , in Bogota, in Geneva, Manila, Armenia, Romania, the Philippines, in California, England, Uganda and Kenya. Been a week at Taizé Monastery, visited Vatican . Visited a 30th century church in Armenia, Machu Piccu , safaris, Oxford halls, Kuala Lumpur markets. In the footsteps of Chinggis Chan, ate Mongolian delicacies. Lost in Ulaanbaatar and took a taxi ride astray in the heart of the slum, receiving a reprimand from the chief .I have slept several nights on Doha terminal’s floor, I slept outside of a terminal in Manila. I’ve swum in Iloilo lagoons, saw the mango plantations in several continents. Eaten fresh fruit for breakfast, ripened under the sun.
I have toured slums in Columbia, Peru, Nairobi, the Philippines and seen garbage mountains, smelled lemurs, dodged street-rippling urine and poop bags hanging from tree branches. Understood the world’s waste problem from a slightly different perspective than here in Finland.
All over, I have seen friendship, caring, taking responsibility, change in strength, joy, courage and success. I do not want to be seen for the benefit and the need to put on a good circulation. Belief in the future and hope in spite of the past and losses. I have seen the homeland of love and pride. Talent and entrepreneurship.
Everywhere I have told the Greetings from Finland, a far way nation that cares about what happens to you and what else you might become, that the transformation is possible. The Finnish people will bless and support you, share the good they have. The loyalty of our sponsors is touching, their loyalty to their mission will transform lives.