Discussion Featured Voice: Yetunde Hofmann

by Francesca Fitzgerald _______18th January 2019
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Yetunde is, in her own words, a person who absolutely loves life. Among the many roles that she performs, Yetunde is founder and director of Synchrony Development Consulting and The Enjoyable Life Series, as well as being a trustee of Tomorrow’s Company. She is passionate about helping people and organisations get the best out of who they are and believes that giving people the space to be themselves without judgement is when can they operate at their best. Yetunde believes that good leadership is integral to progress, which she defines as the traits of being accountable, responsible, authentic, committed and being willing to contribute, underpinned by love.


 

Progress in general for me is about growth; growth of the individual, of community of society and of nations – I love the ambition of the sustainable development of goals.  Growth is about, for example, a time in the future when expressions like engagement and diversity and inclusion do not mean what they mean today. It would mean including different thoughts. Diversity and inclusion and all things different wouldn’t require that much energy – because it would just be.

Progress in society is where you have nations that are genuinely working together. Where you have people in government who put nation first, the people first, and then themselves. If you look at politicians now, many are often self-serving.

We however, are not islands.  Why should we be self-serving? _______

We should have leaders that put community and society first before themselves. Imagine if we had this – what would be possible?

Progress in organisations is where we get to a place where the difference in reward between the people at the top and the bottom on the organisation’s hierarchy is much less than it is today. If we start from some of the tangibles, some of the basic things, I think that organisations should be putting significant contributions of what they make into community. Helping shelters. Providing homes. London is so rich, and yet young people find it difficult to buy property. They should be having interest free loans. Let’s look at some tangibility there. It can be baby steps, they can be conditional. You can say “well, we’ll give you an interest free loan to go and buy your property, go and get your first home, and in return you’ll work with us for five years.” You can say that. In the beginning. It helps people on their feet, and it encourages them to do the same for others. It may seem a bit transactional. But the intention has got to be about giving back. I believe that what is missing today, is that critical value, that critical leadership attribute of contribution. I would love to see organisations give back. I’d love for them to get competitive about what they’re doing in the world – and without expectation of return.

And, I’d love to see organisations where senior leaders talk about their own mental health experiences, so that it creates an environment where people up and down the stovepipes of hierarchy who can say, me too! Me too!

Organisations should become about growth, not just in terms of profit, but in terms of personal development. When their people grow, they grow and when they grow in the way that I mean, they can benefit society – it becomes part of who they are.

That for me is progress, and we’re not seeing enough of that.

The way I look at it is that every single child is born good. It’s like you’re born as a massive mansion. When you’re in that mansion, and you’re showing a friend round it, you’re running round every single room and you’re so free! No room is forbidden to your entry.  Then as you start to get older, you have an experience in life. Maybe it’s to do with your parents or your teachers at school, or class mates or year mates at university or whatever. And because of the hurt or the disappointment or setback, you shut one room and then another room, and then another and so on.  And by the time you get to my grand old age, you end up living in just the basement of your mansion. So, my challenge is this – how can we, at different stages, enable people to remain the mansion that they were when they were born? And to stay that way? If we can have that, it means that we’ll have more people like that in leadership, however we define leadership. Whether we like it or not, power determines what goes on.

And the more people in leadership that feel free to be all of themselves without judgement, the healthier and the more progressive in the way we are talking, organisations will be.

I believe that the more organisations that you have with people who are just comfortable in their skin, the more you will have organisations with a genuine and authentic desire to bring a difference to the world. Then we’ve got a chance.

I think that the work that Tomorrow’s Company is doing is engaging in this dialogue. I’m very much in the world of ‘now what?’. Now what are we doing? Because we must start doing something. It might seem really small to begin with. After all, how many grains of sand does it take to create a desert? But it only took one grain of sand to start it. That’s what we’ve got to do.

I remember when I was at school in Nigeria, we used to bathe in what you call the wet weather. So, you go in to this room where there were rows of bathrooms with all the doors open – no hiding – and so you could see all your naked classmates around you.  You also had to fetch your own bucket of water in order that you could have a bath and to fetch this bucket of water, you needed a cup and you would take your cup and your empty bucket, and you would walk more than a mile to the tap from where you would fill your bucket.   The tap was always situated in a way that it meant you could not fit your bucket underneath it. Hence the cup! If you did not have your cup you would be left with a spoon to fill your bucket. One teaspoon under the tap, into your bucket. Or if you were blessed, one cup under the tap, into your bucket.  Now, when you first start filling that bucket, it at first feels like a nothing task. But then you have a few more, and the water level starts to rise. Before you know it, you’ve got a full bucket that you can walk back and have a bath with. That’s what I mean about change.

If Tomorrow’s Company and what we can do is that first cup, then it’s in there. It’s a start. Then, we can fill the next cup, and before you know it there is more progress in the world. People are feeling better. I wrote a blog some time ago titled  ‘what’s in a smile?’. You know that life is getting better when you have people smiling more readily on the trains. You wouldn’t see someone who looks and is different to you and wind up your window, because you don’t want to be robbed. Instead, you’d smile. There’d be more people talking on the street corners and enjoying life. Not asking for much am I?