I facilitate because I am Palestinian but being Palestinian has actually moulded me to be a better…
I facilitate because I am Palestinian but being Palestinian has actually moulded me to be a better facilitator
I’m proud to be Palestinian.
I’m proud to be a Start-up Founder.
I’m proud to be an Expert Facilitator.
As I explained in last week’s blog, these 3 things are not a coincidence. My desire to raise the experience, equality and inclusion for every member of a team, for every employee of a business, for every customer of a company has directly led to the foundation of my company Shiageto Consulting.
The way we do this at Shiageto is by providing expert facilitation and training services for companies; creating engaging and interactive sessions or developing inclusive and effective leaders so that teams can bring their best ideas, decisions and commitment to anything strategic.
The methodology that we use to achieve this is Shiageto’s famous equation:
Success = IQ x EQ x FQ
As is befitting with the equation, every member of our team walks into any room with high levels of each of these 3 components ready to work their magic.
I am always in awe of my team’s skills and I am fortunate to also receive compliments on my skills in this arena too.
The question is: How did I develop my IQ, EQ and FQ skills?
Each of us will have varying levels of starting ability in each of these domains, but these need to be supplemented.
For me my abilities were developed through the hard yards of experience; through blood, sweat and tears; through getting things more wrong than right for an extended period until I began to get more things right than wrong — the “10,000 hours rule” so to speak.
There is one powerful experience that springs to mind that I have to be directly grateful to being Palestinian for helping me to refine my skills.
What was the experience?
15 years ago, early in my career, I was tasked with leading a team of 15 executives at a large industrial firm to develop a Distribution Strategy within 6 weeks.
The team was made up of senior executives from across the firm’s 3 major regions — Holland, UK and India.
Each of those cultures has unique ways of generating ideas, discussing issues and making decisions.
The Dutch liked being very direct and discussing everything, the Indians felt uncomfortable with challenge and were more deferential, whilst the British often did not say what they meant and preferred having corridor chats to resolve issues.
On top of this; some in the group thought they were superior over others (for warrant of their age, title, culture, tenure at the company or just because of their personality type)
By the end of the first week working together, it became abundantly clear that these cultural issues were causing major problems and we weren’t making any progress. In fact, tensions were rising amongst all the team members.
At the end of the week, in a catch up with my boss, I raised the challenge of trying to lead the group and he simply said to me:
“Faris, I don’t have time for this; you’re a smart chap, just work something out.”
That weekend I was having dinner with my sister where I outlined the problem I was facing and, after considerable thought, she said:
“Luckily for us [as Palestinians raised in the UK] we’ve grown up interacting with more than one culture and have learnt how to adapt and move across the different cultures with ease. Why don’t you just channel the fact that you are Palestinian into your facilitation?”
And then I had a Eureka moment: I was going to introduce a 4th culture into the team — I was going to unleash the best of Palestine.
Fortunately for me, first thing the next Monday we had a 2 hour workshop so I began planning carefully.
What happened on the Monday?
To kick off the workshop, I stood up and asked the team:
“Do you think we are working to our best as a team?
Do you notice how the cultural differences we have in the team are holding us back?”
When the team acknowledged that we weren’t making any progress and that culture may be to blame, I told them that we had a solution and that from now on we would all be honorary Palestinians whenever we interacted with each other.
As Palestinians we now adhered to a new way of working together — The Palestinian Way, born from the best of Palestine — which involved 5 key aspects:
- We would always greet each other and spend the first 5 minutes of any meeting strengthening our connections
- Rather than the extremes of shouting out or staying quiet, which invariably lead to certain people dominating, all our contributions would be equal and expected in any session together. To unlock this, we would all be asked to provide an opinion on each major topic and then submit them through me so that opinions/ideas were not associated with one person or culture — from now on all ideas and opinions would be classified as Palestinian not Dutch, Indian or British (which had previously led to some of the problems)
- Everyone was expected to listen to contrarian opinions and to discuss — this discussion would often lead to the best ideas we had as a team
- Everyone was expected to treat each other with respect and, where they had a different opinion, to challenge directly but in a sensitive way [we had to do a bit of training on that one]
- We would review our team dynamic every week and celebrate our progress at working well together
Did it work?
You know what? It worked amazingly; the dynamic in the team changed rapidly and we not only made up for the time we had lost but by the end of the 6 weeks we had a robust and innovative strategy that was a massive boon to the company (and many components of that strategy still exist today)
Funnily enough, this Palestinian Way became THE template for how I would go on to successfully facilitate and lead all subsequent teams and the approach I encourage in leaders.
It’s times like that, that I’m grateful to be Palestinian
It always makes me smile to myself that my experiences of being a Palestinian (and all the challenges that they world puts on the Palestinian people) have led to such positives for my facilitation and leadership skills.
[The irony that me becoming an excellent facilitator/mediator thanks to being Palestinian is also not lost on me when it is near impossible to sort out the generational problems of Israel and Palestine]
I can but hope that being Palestinian leads to many more positives for me and for all Palestinians — in these turbulent times, we all need a lot of hope.
If you’re interested to find out more about this Palestinian Way of facilitation/leading or just want to find out more then drop me a line.
I look forward to hearing from all of you 🙂
Success = IQ x EQ x FQ
Want to assess your levels of IQ, EQ and FQ? click here