In a previous interview Heideli Loubser interviewed Dr Mario Denton regarding character-based leadership challenges and sustainable implementation of character-based training in the workplace. In this interview, Heideli Loubser asked Dr Denton about his recent experience in taking character-based training into some African countries.
Loubser: I have noticed that you have done Character First in Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, Malawi and now in Uganda. I am very keen to hear how you started the training in that part of the continent of Africa and what you have learnt. You also mentioned that your son Desmond Denton have done a documentary and a session on storytelling. Now let me start this time with Desmond. Desmond tell us more about your experience in UGANDA
Desmond: This was an experience beyond comparison. Our week in Uganda to launch and initiate character turned out to be a great success thanks to the hard work of everyone involved and especially Abby the local Character First Coordinator.
Driving through the streets of Uganda one experienced a little bit about the daily lives of the people, the culture, the sights and smell of smoking fires next to the road where people made food. Late nights the shops were still open and the streets still busy, “border-border” motorbikes filled the street and traffic moves in a way I have never seen before.
It is here where animals and people co- exists. It is a green and beautiful country that has shared in their stories of pain, poverty and corruption. It is election time and everyone was promising to stand to make Uganda a better place. It is sad however realizing that if character is not put into place and leaders started leading from that point, little will change for the good however.
Talking to the people, visiting the churches one can truly see the desire of the people for something significant to make a difference in their communities. Introducing people to character first has really been a great opportunity. The attendees of the conference engaged with the relevance and how they need to take character into Uganda if they want to see change in their lifetime.
Loubser: And your story telling presentation, how did the delegates experienced those sessions?
Desmond It was my privilege to co – facilitate and talked about stories- the fact that we are telling stories every day to ourselves, to the people we work with, our personal, company and national brand we build. What are the stories we believe in, that we read, that we tell others? Is it stories of hope, stories of love, of character or is it merely gossip and stories of despair. We often don't realise that we are constantly busy shaping our own life story and the story of those we interact with.
It is crucially important to start changing the stories by putting character first, by creating a culture of people who do not merely accept the situation that they are in; people who want to raise the standard.
Loubser: and you’re experiencing visiting a slum village: what impression did that left on you
Desmond: During our stay we have visited a “slum village”. One day at the conference we were entertained by children who did a performance act. It was brilliant and all the words they could remember fascinating. We went to go see where they came from and to our surprise we saw how these kids grow up in a place that to the eye seemed like there is no hope. We saw houses next to the garbage fields, no sanitation and water supply, people sat around drunk and animals walks between the streets with all the children. One realizes how fortunate we are and that we play a key role in making a difference and that we should.
The community warmly received us, took us into their homes, to their church (which is just an open space between 2 buildings and has benches), the children walked with us and held our hands. Playing with the children on the previous day made me into a little bit of a hero to these children and coming to the slums they all ran to greet me.
We sang songs with the children and clapped hands, even though we did not understand most of the words as it were in their native language. The pastor truly plays a significant role in this community as he takes in the children that wonders around and helps them to learn passages, to practice dancing and to use their talent. At the media and press conference the children attended and showed their act. It was here that radio 93 Kingdom FM station members saw the talent and immediately said they want to feature the children on their radio. This truly gave my heart a warm feeling that there is still hope.
It is during my stay in Uganda that I truly delft deep into what hope is, how people can make a difference and the importance of strong relations and love in a community. I have made great friends in Uganda and was blessed to meet real humble people with hearts willing to serve, to make a difference in their communities.
Loubser: Now Mario how do you sustain all these changes?
Mario Denton: For me to answer that question I always focus on the following questions in dealing with groups to ensure that the know exactly what to do afterwards
• What is needed by the people in Uganda?
• Where is the greatest opportunities for the different Character First products, e.g. age groups
• Do you see a gap to promote, to provide and sell the Character First products
• How are Character First products different from other business units in terms of products (Uniqueness)?
• Who will buy from your Character First business unit; what do you have to offer them? (Clients)
• You must think carefully who your clients will be
• This means targeting your market
• List and rank order your clients and motivate why
• Where will you operate your Character First business unit from? (Operations)
• How are you going to provide/sell these Character First services and goods? (Marketing)
• I am confident that we do have the right person in place in Uganda
Nakku Abby Makubuya
Precious Souls' Ministries
P.O. Box 30997
Clock Tower, Kampala.
Loubser: Lastly do you have any success stories so far?
Denton: Great that you asked the tough business question towards the end. The answer is yes. I have trained Moses from the Central Bottling Company in Uganda in Port Elizabeth with 28 HR delegates in the following :
Day 1: Basic Implementation Seminar
Why character First: Learn and discuss why building character is important for your organisation
How to build character: Discover the secrets to building a culture of Character
Employee meetings: Learn how to emphasize character in your organisations
Character Bulletins: Familiarise yourself with tools and resources for studying character
Engagement and labour efficiency: Latest trends
Thanks for the DVDs.
They are great and we shall
become a great company
with people of great character.
Moses Mbubi Witta
Country HR Manager
Day 2: Advanced Implementation Seminar
Communicating the standard: Learn how to emphasis character in your organisation polices
Hiring For Character and Character-based Interviewing: Develop character based hiring practices to find the right person for each position
How to make an appeal: Work through the differences of opinion by making an effective appeal
Character-Based correction: Get to the heart of problems instead of dealing with surface issues
Character- based team audit: Maintaining and sustaining sound character in your team
Best practices towards implementation and facilitating the change
They have already implemented the process with some wonderful success stories