User story:

Roelien Havenga
Retail Consulting - Director: Business Intelligence
We are moving into a purpose-driven world, and you can't lead people into that future without EQ.
Beyond Metrics / User Stories / Roelien Havenga

I must be one of the biggest advocates Mygrow has ever had. 

I’m a little bit like a broken record, I keep telling everyone how much the growth I’ve experienced has changed my professional life. Whenever HR wants to add more people onto Mygrow they call me to tell the new people how great it is. 

To understand the change in me, let me first tell you what I am naturally like. 

I grew up in a home where ”your best isn’t good enough.” While it was still a very loving home, nevertheless it was very competitive. The unfortunate outcome of this was that I became very critical and cynical – these traits have been helpful in their own way, they have made me really good at what I do. But they aren’t very helpful for relationships. Growing up, my home was also the place where I developed a perspective that “knowledge is more valuable than emotion.” This has made me a bit emotionally unaware, and my emotional regulation has been lacking. Let’s just say I have had a lot of “catching up” to do, emotionally. So when you combine these two things, my upbringing has made me a very driven person, with very little patience for others, or awareness of how my actions impact them. As an “executor” I get stuff done. I work hard and fast and if you can’t keep up I get frustrated, irritated, and contemptuous. I don’t have time for people who can’t keep up. And because I’m an “all or nothing” kind of person, when I get frustrated I get VERY frustrated. I used to have underlying anger all the time. Anger towards everyone, even myself. Which was really discouraging for my team… Great leadership traits, right? 

The problem is… I AM a leader, and these traits have damaged my leadership in the past and led to me grabbing control all the time and being an extreme micromanager. I was constantly frustrated and the team never felt good enough. A team member once said to me: “We are still on page one and you’ve already finished the book, and you make us feel incompetent.”  After one interaction with my team, my boss actually took me aside and said, “I get that you’re frustrated, but that behaviour was unacceptable!” It was a bit of a wake-up call. 

Recently I was promoted from heading up a business unit to being a company director. But because I look and sound quite young, I found I was overcompensating to try and bring some authority. Which made all my natural inclinations so much worse! One day my mentor said to me that the things that got me to where I am aren’t going to take me any further. For me, the future is leadership, not execution. But I don’t want to be the kind of leader who executes those who follow me. I took a long hard look in the mirror and realised I wouldn’t want to work for me. I realised I had to change, I had to grow.

That’s when Mygrow came along.  

From being a volcano that erupted all over everyone, all the time, I have now figured out how to release some steam and channel that fire in a constructive direction and not in a way that hurts people around me. This has had a big impact on my team and also with clients.

“Mygrow has helped me grow in my emotional awareness and regulation. The growth journey has helped me to slow down, to realise that a human is a human through other humans.“

I have  managed to step out of the “self” and have made the shift from “me” to “we.” I have grown in empathy and I feel like a better human – I don’t feel like the dragon lady anymore. People are saying things like “Why are you so calm?” My team is more psychologically safe, and the culture is so much better. (In the past my team members were scared to come to me when things were going wrong, cos I would blow up on them. My office was always empty, but now I have people in my office all the time – they tell me when things are going wrong and we work out solutions together. We are much more collaborative.

I can see the difference in my team, their engagement has totally changed. I can see the change in them, as a result of the change in me. We still have tough conversations but now they are healthy. My boss has also been really complimentary, and has told me how amazing it has been to see the transformation in me. He can see that I am calmer and not as abrasive in the way I interact with others when I am frustrated.

We are moving into a purpose-driven world, and you can’t lead people into that future without EQ. I am grateful for the growth that I have had, and I am so sure that anyone who shares any part of my story will also grow through the Mygrow journey. I couldn’t recommend it more highly.


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