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21st Century Leadership – The Red Rubber Ball

dsp is a strong supporter of the Red Rubber Ball foundation, through our fundraising we have managed to put a young girl in Kenya through her entire secondary education and we have just started our sponsorship of our second child. Aside from helping these children through their education the Red Rubber Ball foundation and its founder Neil Kirby do many other great things for communities in Africa and here in the UK…

Neil Kirby of The Red Rubber Ball Company has been coaching with business people for over 15 years. Much of this work focuses on attitude; an attitude which Neil sums up as “Anything is Possible … if you put your mind to it”. An attitude which dsp has definitly taken on board and has led to us winning many industry awards for Oracle Database, E-Business Suite andMicrosoft SQL Server.

The aim is to develop leaders who:
• take personal responsibility for their life and what they achieve
• have vision and set goals
• take consistent action, even when it feels uncomfortable, to achieve these goals
• are able to listen to others and communicate effectively with them
• have an awareness of self and the impact that their behaviour is having on others, and
• genuinely care about others and helps make the most of their skills and abilities.

These are people who make a difference whatever their situation.

Neil explains, “We’ve always believed that leadership is an attitude, not a job title. Leadership is required in community groups as much as business; on individual projects; in fact, in our own lives.

How many people sit around waiting for life to happen to them, complaining when things don’t work out the way they want? I think it’s better to take responsibility for your own life – if things don’t work out, then you can do something to change it.

Red Rubber Ball Principles

I was intrigued when we were asked whether this approach was relevant to children. Instinctively my answer was ‘yes’. We developed a programme based around four key themes – Choice, Passion, Vision and Action – a series of games, exercises and discussions that allowed children to learn this same attitude. The attitude doesn’t guarantee success, but certainly increases the chances to achieving whatever you want.

Then last year we were invited to share these ideas with students at Daystar University in Nairobi, Kenya. The question we faced was whether these themes are relevant to young leaders in a developing African economy?

CHOICE is what underpins success. Choice encourages someone to take responsibility for how they think, how they behave and therefore what they achieve. You have choice about how you behave, how you respond to situations. Acknowledging that you have choice puts you in control of your life – making time for the things that are the most important, that make the most difference to your life.

Realising that you have choice you can deal with issues faced, including problem solving in a way that encourages others to take responsibility and action; and creates the right mind-set for managing time and making the most of opportunities available so you are effective.

Understanding what interests and excites us, helps us understand the motivation and energy that drives us.

PASSION provides a purpose to what you do, so you are committed to the things you do and the actions you need to take – to keep going when you might face rejection or disappointment.

This is key for leaders – so they can be comfortable being themselves, rather than feeling they should behave like others. Influencing others will be essential for any leader and people buy people; others will engage with you if you are passionate about what you do, your project, your firm, your clients, your staff.

VISION is about being clear where you and your organisation or project are going, and having a plan to achieve it. This might be a vague sense which allows you to make decisions, or clear goals so you can work out the steps needed to achieve them and ensure you are committed and motivated. Even if it is just a vague sense – that’s enough. It allows you to make the next decision. Clear long term goals are great – but don’t let that stop you if you don’t know what they are.

ACTION. Develop the “just do it” mind-set which gets things done. Learn to deal with the fears and doubts which might have been holding you back and cope with set-backs if and when they arise. Remember that everyone has some fears and doubts – the best way to overcome them is to do it anyway. Thinking you have to get things right first time might put you off – no one if perfect. It’s not about how good you are now, but how good you can become. So do something, learn from it, and you’ll get better and better.

This is the “Anything is Possible” attitude.

Is this relevant to leaders in Africa? Unequivocally “yes”. Well that’s what the 30 young leaders from Daystar said. They felt so strongly that we’ve been invited back to Nairobi in 2014 to share these ideas with around 100 children and young leaders.

Neil and friends will give up their time to run an “Anything is Possible” workshop in Nairobi, helping raise aspirations and achievement. The children will take part in games and exercises to explore their own passions and aspirations, and identify what they can do to achieve them.

For more information on the Red Rubber Ball click here to visit their website, dsp will also be holding a pub quiz in aid of the Red Rubber Ball foundation please keep an eye for more details.

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