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Participation for productivity – Dr. Mariheca Otto shares her wisdom on organisations

Written by Staff Writer

January 11, 2022


By Charndré Emma Kippie

Dr. Mariheca Otto has been the owner and manager of Motto Business Consulting for more than 15 years, and is dedicated to her work in the field of organisation development and internal marketing for various clients, in different industries. Through her PhD research Dr. Mariheca Otto has developed the Motto Model and subsequently the Motto Survey™ and Motto Individual Assessment™ tools.  

What are your main career objectives? How do you hope to make a difference?

My main career objectives have always been to co-create organisational health. A requirement for organisational health is to ensure that the individuals, the leaders, and the teams within an organisation function optimally. I hope to make a difference by creating awareness. It is through doing this that individuals and organisations start to show growth and become “better”.

 Please could you tell us a bit about your background – how did you get to this point?

I started with a BCom degree in Industrial Psychology and I ended up doing my PhD through the creation of the Internal Marketing model, which is all about how to create buy-in into vision. I owned businesses prior to starting my career in consulting about 20 years ago, including an educational publishing business (which I sold when I became a mother) and after that, I started consulting full-time from around the age of 30. 

Since then, I have been very privileged to be able to use the Motto measurement instruments to measure the perceptions within organisations, implement change processes, and then remeasure to track progress. Over the years, more and more consultants that we have collaborated and worked with have expressed interest in using the Motto Tools in their processes, so we have gradually moved towards a point where 90% of our focus is now on empowering and certifying organisations and other consultants to use our tools independently.

 What excites you the most about the work that you do?

What excites me most and gives me energy is seeing the measurable transformations that take place within organisations, and how the people within those organisations start to become self-empowered enough to take the positive shifts further. I love being part of that enabling process that creates a space in which organisations and individuals can thrive.

 What 3 tips do you have for businesses trying to improve their organisational strategies?

  • Focus on what really matters, because what an organisation focuses on is what people will put their energy into and where you will see growth.
  • Make sure that your strategy is clear and that it inspires. 
  • Make sure your strategy is inclusive and participative so as to get everyone’s buy-in. .

In your line of work, why is coaching and mentorship so important?

Coaching and mentoring are so important in my line of work, because no organisational development can occur optimally without individual development journeys, in addition to the group processes. Coaching processes help individuals to align what they think and what they feel, and move them into action, which is why we use the TEA coaching model. Mentorship processes help both the mentors and the mentees to align their personal and organisational visions and purpose, create fantastic learning opportunities for both parties, and ensure that an organisation’s succession strategy, as well as its retention strategy works. This is why individual processes are absolutely vital for successful growth.

 What tips do you have for increasing productivity?

If you want to increase productivity, you cannot stand behind people with a whip. A participative leadership style including lots of supportive behaviour is so crucial, as well as giving guidance in the form of questions that unlock the skills and knowledge of the individuals within the workforce. Essentially, a supportive leadership style that invites participation is what drastically increases productivity.

 Have you read any books or listened to any podcasts that have inspired you and your career thus far?

I am a huge fan of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast from a leadership and management point of view, and I often share his podcast links with many people. A book that I find to be incredibly underrated is The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz.

What is your ‘why’ i.e. Bottom line? And how do you stay motivated?

Ultimately my “why” is to find out how I can help and serve by creating organisational health, and through that, mental health. I stay motivated through the positive feedback that we receive on a regular basis about the value-add of our products for individuals, leaders, other consultants and organisations.

What inspires your work ethic on a daily basis?

I have always been incredibly driven, simply because there is so much that needs to be done, as well as so many opportunities out there. However, my challenge now is to make sure that I have balance, that I’m calm, and that I have to focus on a daily basis. Part of what I do to achieve this is to do yoga and meditate before starting my day, to set clear boundaries in terms of what I can and can’t do, to ask for help when I need it, and to surround myself with incredibly supportive people.  

What advice do you have for young women/future generations who aspire to work in your industry?

I think of a lesson that hit home for me years ago during a conference I was attending. There was an organisational development (OD) guru present, who we could ask questions, and one of the participants in the session asked what would hold people back from development, growth and learning. The guru answered that there are two things, namely: arrogance and fear. Both of these things play out because of our egos kicking in. Especially as a woman operating in what is a man’s world 90% of the time, the risk is that we are surrounded by matters of egos and status, and we need to avoid falling into patterns of fear or arrogance ourselves.

When insecurity causes you to feel the need to throw around your credentials, qualifications and expertise when interacting with people, you immediately lose the battle. The trick is to pause, to centre yourself, and to find the inner strength and courage that will allow you to do what you’re meant to be doing. When you deal with others who operate from within their egos, it’s important to avoid taking it personally and to rather just be aware and mindful of where it’s coming from.

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