People In Aid Leadership workshop: Collaborative Leadership for Social Impact
Please note: This post has been written by an external author for the People In Aid website. As such, all views expressed are those of the author and not of People In Aid.
In the aid business there's rarely any time to sit and just think about stuff. Reactive takes precedence over proactive - there are very few quiet moments to consider yourself and how you fit into your organisation. And possibly fewer to consider how your organisation fits into the great big scheme of things. But on Thursday 18 October there was a day like that. A day for reflection and deeper thought.
Leadership workshop shows how concepts work in the aid sector
The idea was developed by People In Aid with the cooperation of the European headquarters of the Center for Creative Leadership in Brussels.
Headlined as a “Leadership Day,” it brought a cross-section of talents from a broad range of aid agencies together at VSO H.Q. in west London. The objective was to look at “Collaborative Leadership for Social Change.” What happened wasn’t that. It was much, much better. It was an opportunity for hard-pressed individuals to take a look inside themselves, relate their issues to others and reflect on who they are, how they work and why they do it.
It was a day devoted to searching inside individuals through a process of talking to others about innermost thoughts. Led by Lyndon Rego and Aaron White of the Center for Creative Leadership the day long workshop was specifically geared to the aid sector and used examples of CCL’s work with remote communities in Africa to illustrate how the basics of leadership are applicable in any setting, anywhere in the world.
Rego and White kicked off the session by asking one simple question, “why are you here today?” The answers were all very similar. “I just want to be able to take a day and think about what I do and how I do it,” was a common response. “I never get a chance to do this sort of thing, I am always reacting to day-to-day developments,” was another.
And that was what coloured the day. It was an truly cathartic process for many – sharing their needs, expectations and concerns about how they did their job and how they reacted to others.
Most important was the fact that CCL’s course leaders, Rego and White, really understood the issues that aid professionals grapple with every day. They too have spent large parts of their lives in the field and gave clear examples of how leadership development can hugely assist in building stronger communities and build much needed local capacity. And, as this was a practice-driven day, they offered a series of insights into how all of us can improve our skills and through that help others too.
The Center for Creative Leadership has committed a large part of its resources to helping develop leadership-driven programs across large parts of Africa, Asia and South America. These offer remote and under-resourced communities an opportunity to up-skill themselves and use the latest leadership techniques to develop and stabilise their communities. Explaining these real-life examples to the aid agency participants put the whole concept of leadership-driven development into a practical context that they could relate to.
At the end of the workshop, participants voiced their approval of the day’s program. “This has really helped me come to terms with some of the things I see as my ongoing challenges,” said one. “This has been an opportunity to share my concerns and my beliefs about my job and – perhaps more importantly – who I am” said another.
This Center for Creative Leadership / People In Aid Leadership Day is a wonderful opportunity for aid sector professionals to meet, share ideas, tell stories and above all learn about how ideas and actions developed in the for-profit world can apply – very easily indeed – to the not-for-profit sector.
More than that, it helps to reinforce the concept of leadership as an effective way of building and enhancing not just organisations, but communities too. For the aid sector that’s a powerful tool to have.
Following on from the success of the October 2012 session, the event will be repeated on Thursday 7 February in Brussels. The venue will be the newly opened campus of the Center for Creative Leadership. It is a 20 minute tax ride from Brussels International Airport and can be reached by public transport from Brussels Gare du Midi train station, the terminus for trains from Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and London, making the Leadership Day a practical proposition to do in just one day. Places for the day are limited and you can book your place now.
People In Aid and the Center for Creative Leadership will continue to offer ground-breaking discussion opportunities and participate in joint research and other activity designed to bring the best on new leadership ideas and techniques to the international aid community.
Friday 26 October 2012
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