#0026 Ruwayne Kock of Authentic Organisations
The Civitas Team
14 Ideas on the Meaning of Authenticity in South Africa’s Private Sector, Growth, Reaching Out to Companies, and the Importance of Attending Networking Events.
Ruwayne Kock founded Authentic Organisations right after finishing his Ph.D. in Industrial Psychology. His thesis was about understanding the extent to which people can be authentic at work and marginalized as racial, ethnic groups, those with disabilities, and women. Continuing from that, Authentic Organisations offers consulting to marginalized individuals for them to realize their potential to be their best at work.
Ryan from Civitas Network interviewed Ruwayne on the lack of authenticity in the private sector in South Africa, as well as giving tips on how to improve professional presence and approach large companies for consulting.
Summary of the best ideas from the discussion:
- South Africa’s private sector still doesn’t leave room for authenticity because the older generation in the senior roles seems to be predominantly white and have a more individualistic way of thinking.
- We need to create ordinary role models that people can relate to and realize you don’t have to be of a certain class, race, or gender to succeed in work organizations.
- Personal and business growth takes time and deliberate effort, so you need patience and resilience.
- Don’t be shy when it comes to following up, but do give client companies some space for them to assess the opportunity.
- You can build a presence by teaching at business schools or presenting at conferences. This also allows you to share meaningful conversations with the senior people in the audience.
- It is important to make your business scalable. If you feel that a partner in your network can accelerate the progress of a project, then you need to resource the project with the right capabilities.
On authenticity at work in South Africa
- “My passion is around private organizations because I believe that is where particularly marginalized people struggle to be their authentic selves. Given the historic background of organizations in South Africa, they remain untransformed as we look at senior top management roles in private sector organizations. So, we need to enable marginalized professionals (young, women, LGBTQI+, those with disabilities, etc) to unlock their potential by creating diverse, equitable and inclusive environments.”
- Many companies don’t have a balance of collectivism vs individualism, and they don’t really tolerate authenticity. The Ubuntu philosophy refers to “I am because who we are”. “Ubuntu offers a theory to not only recognize the humanity of others but to embrace it and utilize it as the basis for success.
- “We need to create ordinary role models out of ordinary people because it provides hope for marginalised workers in organizations.” Too many of the role models are based on Western standards and do not sufficiently account for the local contexts. Creating local role models helps to validate marginalized identities and facilitate the authentic self-expression of these marginalized work identities in private sector organizations."
- The beginning of an organization’s life cycle can be strenuous because you need to spend time creating an image, registering the organization, creating an online presence, making the business available on social media sites, and getting clear on your vision.
- Look for platforms and societies in your industry, where you can go to conferences and even present your work while you are there. This provides much-needed exposure.
- “It takes 3-6 months to close a consulting deal, as well as leveraging your network to connect to the right organizations. You should also seek out shorter-term opportunities to compensate for the long lead time for the consulting work.”
- In a start-up business, your team does not necessarily include people that employ full time. The traditional notion of teaming is outdated in the gig economy and we should rather focus on building powerful networks of skilled individuals who can deliver against your vision and strategic objectives. So, getting the right people on board becomes far more important than where you actually want to grow your business. With the right people on board you are able to navigate the turbulent times and with this collective intelligence how to achieve growth. “Your team needs to have a balance between the inexperienced people, who can learn the tricks of the business by doing groundwork, and the experienced people to handle more complex work.”
- “As a consultant, I approach not only H.R directors in organizations but also CEOs who publish their concerns and needs. I find it important to conversate with them and discuss their view of organizational culture and its impact on their business strategy.” approach
- “I incorporate psychometric assessments into standard coaching sessions to explore opportunities for private clients and to help them discover what they want to do next.”
- It is incredibly hard to get your foot in the door, even if you know people in the business, because of the long sales cycle and the bureaucracy in supply chain processes of most private sector organizations. But, you have to be persistent by sending emails, following up, calling people, even if that irritates people.
- Don’t take rejections or delayed responses personally, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- “While following-up is necessary, it is also important to give potential clients space to assess their needs and budget. I generally follow-up a month after my initial proposal."
Improving professional presence
- “One way I keep relevant with organizations is to teach or present at schools and conferences. These are not sales-oriented presentations; they rather encourage the leaders to question whether they are allowing or suppressing authenticity at the workplace. These shared conversations can help to build your professional presence.”
- “I follow companies and organizations overseas with a similar mission to learn from the way they provide consulting for marginalized individuals.”