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Friday, August 7, 2009

YWLP: Helping Young Women Lead with Values and Purpose

By Jennifer Habig

The Young Women's Leadership Program (YWLP) was developed at San Diego Campus of the Center for Creative Leadership for high school sophomores and juniors. The 2009 program, which began in July, is designed to help these young women:

  • Make educational and career choices that are in alignment with their preferences, values, skills, and interests;
  • Confidently choose leadership roles when working with teams;
  • Exhibit improved communication as a team leader; and,
  • Continue education after high school at an institution to help achieve their career goals.

Through interactive activities, discussion, practice and reflection, participants work through the following questions with their peers and CCL staff throughout the week.

  • How do your values impact your actions?
  • How does your personality impact your actions and how do you like to work with others?
  • What do you want to do with your life and how do you get there?
  • How do you clearly and confidently communicate your thoughts and ideas?
  • What is your responsibility to make the world a better place?

The students are subsequently putting what they’ve learned into action as they work in partnership with a nonprofit organization to complete a community service project. Each project team is assigned a mentor to encourage participants to reflect on what they’ve learned and set practical goals.

Graduation will take place on August, 2009 as participants share what they learned while working with their teammates on their service learning project. This occasion allows the students to celebrate their success with community leaders, family, friends and CCL staff.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Visualizing New Futures with Women in Rural Ghana

We met Cheri Baker, a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Ghana, on our recent trip there. Over breakfast we quickly shared some of the tools that CCL has developed with the hope she can put them to good use. We were delighted to receive her dispatch (below).

Work began soon after moving to a very rural village in the Northern Region of Ghana. As a Health/Water and Sanitation Peace Corps Volunteer, my work is incredibly varied and always interesting. Through constant interactions with the villagers in Kpendua, I have learned more than I ever imagined about another culture and its people.

Since I first moved to Kpendua, I have marveled at how strong and hard working the women are. Because I was so impressed with their dedication to their families, a group of village friends and I decided we should start a Women's Group. But at the first meeting, more than 65 women showed up to participate! In time, our one women's group became four separate ones, and our work together ever since has been very worthwhile.

At the majority of our monthly meetings, my Ghanaian counterpart and I teach interactive lessons on HIV/AIDS, nutrition, proper breastfeeding, hand washing, or a topic of a similar nature. For the two strongest and most active groups, we are also trying to create business plans for alternative livelihood projects like corncob charcoal and beekeeping. But the most interesting work I've done with them has been related to the role of a Dagomba (a tribe in Ghana with whom I live) female, gender equality in a village, and leadership development activities.

When I first moved to Kpendua, I used a well-known Peace Corps technique (specifically a PACA tool) in which you begin by posing a positive question to get the group comfortable and more receptive to information gathering, then following up with a more difficult one that makes the group think about some negative aspects of their life.

After a meeting in the capital of Ghana with Lyndon Rego, Steadman Harrison III, and Phillip Brady from CCL, I was able to bring some of CCL's techniques to a village in the North. In three separate women's group meetings, I repeated the same PACA tool…but this time with a very helpful visual aid: CCL's Visual Explorer Cards. And wow, what a difference they made! When I first posed the question to groups of villagers more than a year a go, I just got blank looks in response. When pried, I could get some answers out of the villagers, but the concept and reasoning behind my questioning was too unclear. They couldn't seem to fathom why I was asking them, "What aspects of your life here do you appreciate?" When pushed, they could only answer about tangible things. They'd say, "We like that we have a clinic in our village that serves nine surrounding communities," or "We like that we have a Primary School." I was disappointed to find that that was all I could get out of them. Frustrated at the time, I eventually moved onto other techniques.

But this time around, using the same technique with the Visual Explorer cards made all the difference. While it was still very difficult, the women were very chatty once they understood the concept of the meeting. I started by asking the women, "What is the best thing about living in Kpendua?" (Most villagers I live with trouble with the concept of the word, "best." They also have trouble with the concept of "goals," "improvements," and "future plans," but that's another frustrating story!) When I rephrased the questioning to, "What is already happening in Kpendua that makes you the happiest? What is successful? What is good about living here?" I was able to get a few very informative and interesting responses.

The most impressive answer I repeatedly received was related to the Visual Explorer (VE) that depicts a group of young boys standing with their arms around each other's backs. Through that photo, the women talked about how it's great that everyone here helps each other, specifically to floor compounds (an amazing communal and very musical experience), plaster the mud walls (with a mixture of cow feces and mud), harvest groundnuts, and gather maize for naming ceremonies. Another group commented that they were happy that when a man asks other villagers for communal labor farming, men gladly ride their bicycles to farm to help weed. In addition, they were happy we have meetings and discussions so everyone's voices can be heard.
The photo of the dilapidated house by a riverside drew murmurs of approval. The women said, "The house is very beautiful; it is big and the landlord would be proud to own the house. We are happy that Kpendua has strong mud rooms for strangers (Ghanaian English for "guests") coming to visit because it's nice to have strangers."

It was also interesting to hear a woman exclaim she was "happy because she has strong legs to do all the work that women do daily" and that "It's too hard for the women who can't walk well." All this just from a photo of small baby's feet held in an adult's hand!!

When a woman holding the card of crayons asked the translator if it was a picture of bowls, he explained to her that it doesn't matter what the photo is and that what matters is what she sees. As she grew more comfortable with her thoughts, she made a long speech about how happy bowls make her. She clarified that female villagers use bowls to eat, and food is important. After pushing her to continue, she answered that bowls make her happy because it's nice to serve and share food at baby naming ceremonies and funerals.

Though the inevitable tangible answer did come up repeatedly, it was great to hear what the women thought was going well in their communities. They realized they were lucky to have a competent Nurse who could take care of them when they were sick at our clinic, which serves the nine surrounding communities. Another woman's photo reminded her of mosque, and she explained that Fridays made her very happy because everyone was "praying very seriously." Another woman said she was happy we have a road big enough for lorries to pass through our village. Yet another said it made her happy when there was a full moon because people could walk around freely and see at night. (Kpendua has no electricity.) A woman who said it made her happy to see development in Kpendua discussed the photo of an old woman's eyes. Kpendua has a school, a clinic, a mosque, and light poles waiting for electricity. (Though the district has been claiming that "the electricity will certainly come soon" for more than two years, we do have light poles lying on the ground in the middle of the village!)

And in a response that portrayed a major tradition in the tribe, a woman said she was happy that the elders here are respected and make the major decisions for the rest of the village after looking at a VE of an old lady.

After this question, I asked a new series of questions trying to pry answers out of them about they want to happen in Kpendua. I asked questions like, "What do you see in the photos that makes you sad about living in Kpendua? What is difficult? What can we improve on in Kpendua?" This part of our meetings consistently proved very interesting. I have been here for almost two years, but I can rarely get any concrete answer out of this type of question. No matter how patient I am and how many times I explain that my role as a PCV is not to give money, most people just answer this question by saying that they want me to help them buy a tractor. And get more money. This was the first time I was able to hear what the women really want. The VE cards really helped them open up.

With the VE, I now know that the women with whom I work want a special grinding mill to make shea butter. And on a related note, they want bulk traders to come directly to the village to buy the unprocessed shea nuts. I also learned that they want more Moringa Oleifera trees, a major nutrition project I have been working on with them for about a year. And they want more water, since there are currently only three working boreholes for 3000 people. (There is supposed to be one for every 300 people.) By looking at a VE of an overturned shopping cart, a woman said she wanted to learn how to do beekeeping. (Apparently word of one of my potential upcoming projects has spread!)

They don't want any more lorry accidents (we had a very serious one a few months ago killing seven people from Kpendua and injuring literally everyone else.) And they don't want people to "grow lean" and suffer without enough food. After gazing at the VE photo of a pile of skulls, a women said she didn't want any more warfare within the Dagomba tribe. (An ongoing chieftaincy dispute has split the tribe into two major sides.)

But the most exciting answer for me was when each group mentioned that they want latrines!! In the entire village, I still have the only latrine while everyone continues to go to the African "bush" to use the toilet. The women all agreed that they want latrines so they don't have to go to toilet so far away anymore. This answer made me so excited because my counterpart and I have been talking until we've felt like we were blue in the face trying to desensitize the village to the need for latrines.

Overall, the use of the VE was a huge success. Though one of the women's groups kept asking my counterpart to direct them more with clearer directions, he kept refusing for the sake of the activity. We also spent a great deal of time stressing that there were no wrong answers. They didn't have to know what the picture was of; instead we wanted to hear about anything that they saw. Admittedly, it was also sometimes difficult to get the women to say how the photo related to Kpendua instead of just explaining what they saw in the photo. Even so, I heard more about what aspects of life they want to leave the same and what they want to improve than I have heard in a long time. It was pleasant to hear the women interact so freely with each other, and I enjoyed watching them work together to try to figure out what was on each card. Near the end of each meeting, women were answering the questions very clearly without using the cards. It was the first time they were so open and forthcoming with their responses. It was an amazing change. I will certainly be using these cards again soon!

See the Visual Explorer Blog post with VE pictures imbedded!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Developing Leadership Skills for 10,000 Women in Bangalore

CCL’s Anupam Sirbhaiya delivered a leadership development program for the 10,000 Women program in Bangalore along with Acumen Fund and Indian School of Business. 10,000 Women is an initiative created by Goldman Sachs to increase the number of underserved women receiving a business and management education. The following is excerpted from a report by Nicole Orillac and Sophie Forbes of Acumen Fund:

The training was held on June 27, 2009 in Bangalore, India at the Goldman Sachs offices. A total of 21 participants out of 30 members of the 10,000 Women Bangalore program, attended the training in addition to two ISB professors and a guest speaker.

The key objectives of the training workshop were to:

- Introduce a model for personal development that participants can continue to use;
- Empower participants to come up with a plan on how to stay connected and support each other in the months coming forward;
- Provide practical tools for mentoring each other and their employees

The training workshop was based on a variety of resources, both technical and people, from Acumen Fund, ISB, and CCL and was supported by funding from Goldman Sachs.
The workshop was designed to be one full day. At the start of the training, participants were asked to share what they expected to learn from the workshop. The common expectations from the group were to learn how to motivate their employees, to keep themselves motivated, to sustain and activate the existing network among the 10,000 Women and to reflect about their own personal strengths and weaknesses.

The day began with a session for focused on cohort building. Two activities – Most Admired Person and Questions Carrousel - provided a platform for participants to recognize the similarities in their experience as women entrepreneurs. In the “Questions Carrousel” activity the participants were asked to answer five questions individually and then separate into five groups (one group assigned to each question) to analyze the answers. Most groups identified emerging answer buckets for each question which came as a surprise to the participants.

In Session 2, focus shifted from the collective to the individual. Participants spent time reflecting on a significant event or experience from their past that impacted their lives as women entrepreneurs. Afterwards, the facilitators asked the participants to recollect the experience one more time and analyze if there were any other people involved and the roles these people played. The key take away for participants was the realization that often people take for granted that there are other individuals around them as they go through life experiences and that these people play different supporting roles: some act as advisors, others as sound boards or motivators, etc.

Next, the facilitators linked the lesson drawn in the previous session about supporting roles to CCL’s ‘Assessment-Challenge-Support’ (ACS) model for personal development. Participants understood that the process of learning is dynamic and that to get to the next level of personal development it is common to first go through a “dip” in which productivity decreases and support is required. During these phases it is important to asses the situation, identify the challenge and seek the right form of support.

After having lunch with their Goldman Sachs mentors, participants returned to the training room for a round of putting in practice the ACS Model. Using images, participants assessed their present and future position as entrepreneurs by answering the questions “Where I am today as an entrepreneur? and Where do I want to be?” Subsequently, participants identified individual and collective challenges in their path to be the entrepreneur they would like to be.

Five buckets of collective challenges emerged from the exercise:

1. Finding/recruiting the right people;
2. Market entry strategy (new market/diversifying/expansion);
3. Systems and business processes (Designing and implementing);
4. Getting funds/investors;
5. Personal development.

Later in session 5 the facilitators helped the participants explore different resources available within the group to address the group challenges identified in session 4 and create a framework for support.

Each group developed a different strategy for support. For example, the group working on “Challenge 1: Finding/Recruiting the right people” made a list to classify their peers according to their area of business or expertise and suggested they be the primary contacts to reach out to when looking for candidates with those specific skills or sector experience. On the other hand, the team working on “Challenge 2: Market entry strategy” mapped out the steps that from their experience are key to consider when addressing the challenge in question and volunteered to help their peers in tackling any or multiple of the steps.

To complement the personal development piece of the workshop, participants studied how to communicate important information about performance to subordinates, peers, or superiors in a way that helps them hear what you are saying and identify ways in which they can improve.

The premise being that learning how to give and receive feedback is an important skill for personal development. The training session ended with a review of the day’s lessons learned, a confirmation that the majority of the initial workshop expectations were met and completion of evaluations.

The day concluded with the presentation from Chetna Sinha, the guest speaker of the day. Ms. Chetna Sinha, president of the Mann Deshi Mahila micro-enterprise development bank, shared the challenges she faced in building an enterprise that today has 5 branches, over 86,000 clients and 7,900 members.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rotary & CCL Partner - Youth Leadership Seminar

This picture may look like passive youth but inside each of them they are trying to understand what values are core to them; and, are my daily decisions and behaviors in alignment with my core values? This is an example of one of the activities that CCL designed in partnership with Rotary District 7680.
The goal for this program is consistent with the Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative - making leadership development affordable and accessible for all...what would the world look like if more youth had the opportunity to participate in leadership programs? Early on in conversations with Rotary we heard about their need to revamp an older leadership program and create a newer world class and globally relevant youth leadership seminar for rising Jr's and Sr's in high school. As a result, CCL packed a four day schedule full of relevant and interactive content. Topics ranged from values & social identity to team building, communication, conflict, feedback and goal setting.
While the target audience for this program was youth, adult mentors were designed into the program. What CCL and related research is recognizing is how the role of adult mentors, when intentionally designed into a program, can be beneficial to both the youth, providing valuable support and guidance, and to the adult mentor, being a leadership developmental opportunity for them.
Early feedback suggests most all participants and mentors agree that the experience was powerful...and too short!
To view more pictures of this program check out our Flickr site

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Leadership Essentials at XLRI, Jamshedpur, India

By Meena S. Wilson

Orientation week at Xavier Labour Relations Institute, a premiere provider of post-graduate business management (BM) and personnel management and industrial relations (PMIR) programs in India. CCL is tasked with introducing 240 incoming students to the essentials of leadership. The four CCL faculty and adjuncts – Anupam, Meena, Sudha and Kaushik, are confident and edgy about taking on four cohorts of 60 young adults in their early to mid-20s over 2 days. We need not have been.

They had come from every corner of India. Aiming for C-level jobs eventually, the students were keen to know more about leadership and how to develop themselves. They were pleased with their dip into social identity, mental models, EQ, ACS, learning curves, SBI and learning from experience – all the more so since their program was designed to be highly interactive, experiential and oriented toward peer learning. As could be expected, each day ended on a high with visual exploration of their personal image of leadership and circling up to share what they would carry back into their world from the Leadership Essentials experience.

Leadership Beyond Boundaries -- Looking Back

We recently looked back at the road we have travelled with the Leadership Beyond Boundaries effort. In the two years since we launched this effort, CCL has reached some 2,000 people in Asia, Africa, and North America through our training. An additional three- to four-thousand more people have been reached via trainers who we've trained. This includes populations such as: women's self-help groups, orphans, police and prison officers, principals and teachers, college students, village communities, among others.

We're now working to scale a number of models that we hope will take leadership development to millions more to build self-esteem, empowement, and leadership skills. Join the movement via our group site on Facebook.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Leadership Essentials for Kate B. Reynolds Grantees

by Judson Bobo

Health care professionals from NGOs across North Carolina recently gathered for a weekend of leadership training in Fayetteville, NC. This meeting comprised the second of a series of leadership development sessions resulting from the collaboration of the Center for Creative Leadership’s (CCL) Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (KBR). The aim of this training is to give public health care officials across the state the skills they need to become better leaders in their respective work places, and to enhance cooperation and teamwork among this group as a whole. The more effective these professionals become at leading their individual organizations, the more effective they are at maximizing the effectiveness and impact of limited resources. The better they learn to communicate and work together, the better able they are to guide North Carolina toward a brighter future for those who need, but cannot afford, health care.

Joel Wright and Lynn Fick-Cooper acted as facilitators during the weekend and presented the Leadership Essentials® workbook to the 24 participants, who were selected by KBR. According to the participant feedback gathered at the end of the weekend, the material introduced new skills that were highly applicable to North Carolina’s health care industry. The participants appreciated the simplicity of the presentation while commenting on the depth of awareness it facilitated and the utility of the leadership tools. One participant’s comment describes the breadth of learning he received:

“We [learned] a lot of basic information on leading: how to go about leading, how to engage people, how to work collaboratively to pool our resources instead of fighting over a smaller pot of resources, how to expand our whole notion, our mental model, [concerning maximization of] resources. How to get people to tap into their passion, how to [motivate] people to follow a vision that is bigger than just the bottom line.”
- LE participant

Another participant reflects on the big picture, on the long-term effects of the collaboration between CCL and KBR – how it affects North Carolina’s financially needy on a large scale:

“While it is an indirect investment, it is a very significant one, a very critical one that ultimately serves the clients that we serve. I want to thank the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust for the opportunity to attend this training.”
- LE participant

The basic leadership skills that KBR is helping spread among regional health care NGOs is having a positive impact on this industry. By making leadership development widespread and affordable, society, as a whole, benefits. With success stories in Africa, India, and most recently the United States, Leadership Essentials® really is changing the world, one leader at a time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

CCL Seeks Affordable, Accessible Publication Offerings in East Africa

See the full article by Jesse James Deconto in the News & Observer:

Excerpt -

So, for example, Africa Rising helped to connect Greensboro's Center for Creative Leadership with Kwani, an organization that aims to nurture African writers who can portray their continent from an insider's perspective. The center wanted to expand the reach of its leadership training materials into East Africa but needed to cut the consumer price by about 80 percent.

"There's a hunger," said Steadman Harrison, a senior innovation associate with the center. "You have to find a price point that meets their pocketbook."

The center needed publishing partners who could translate their intellectual property into new languages and cultures at a low cost and without abusing the organization's copyrights.

"We don't have people on the ground in places like Nairobi, Kenya," Harrison said. "We have to work with an organization we believe we can trust. ... Africa Rising was a good vetting organization."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Leadership Beyond Boundaries Alumni Facilitate UNEP Session in Kenya

by Bancy W. Kubutha and Kristin B. Naituli

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) gathered about 40 university students from all over the world in Nairobi, Kenya, from 20th to 26th, April ’09, for discussions and learning on Climate Change: Role of the Sustainability Generation. The overall objective of the workshop was to provide a forum for college students from different regions of the world to engage creatively and innovatively on current environment and sustainability challenges. The workshop program included a session on Student Leadership Development in Universities around Climate Change Issues.

We had two objectives as we started preparing for this event. We wanted to share how we had approached leadership development for a big group of students at Egerton University, with this group of international students attending the UNEP workshop. At the same time we wanted to give them a personal taste of how experiential learning can take place using very simple tools and techniques. From working with Egerton University students on leadership development we observed that leadership training can help students improve their self-awareness and self-esteem; we also observed positive changes in career ambitions and increased confidence in their ability to succeed in life.

As universities are breeding grounds for leaders, we started the UNEP session by a discussion of what leadership is and of the importance of student leadership development in Universities. A participatory question on the role of leadership in addressing climate change issues led into an interesting discussion among the students on how students can inspire, challenge, enable, encourage and be role-models for others in creating an environmentally sensitive society. We learnt that leadership development in universities can be instrumental in helping students unlearn stereotypes, negative attitudes and beliefs that may currently be inhibiting the expression of leadership and leadership ambitions among students. The visual explorer exercise helped guide the discussion on effective leadership in tackling climate change. This rolled into a very lively and entertaining session on mental models. Almost everybody in the workshop had insights and experiences with mental models that they wanted to share. The multicultural background of the participants made the discussion even more fun and interesting to listen to as it unfolded.

It seems, from what we are experiencing here in Kenya, that leadership development in Africa, and possibly elsewhere too, is not so much about lecturing leadership principles, but rather about unlearning mental models through dialogue and learningful conversations. By talking and freely exchanging views, new insights based on one’s own realizations can be reached. A deeper understanding of the concepts is then allowed to emerge from within and learning takes place spontaneously.

Many participants enquired about the availability of the visual explorer tool. We also received requests from Kenyan student participants to set up leadership training at their local campuses. We realize leadership is important to everyone irrespective of their backgrounds; the challenges that the world is facing can and will be addressed through leadership. Leadership development is very relevant and it’s all about contextualizing it in the different areas. We felt encouraged for having contextualized leadership and made it relevant in addressing climate change issues.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mission to Ghana

IFAD and the Center for Creative Leadership collaborated on an initiative to develop a grassroots empowerment instrument and intervention. Khalid El Harizi, Lyndon Rego, Steadman Harrison, and Phillip Braddy visited a series of government agencies focused on food, agriculture, and rural enterprise development. The team visited rural development agencies and projects in Accra, Akosombo (see related IFAD blog post), Cape Coast, Kumasi, Mampong and other areas to understand needs and approaches.

In Accra, we facilitated a group discussion with some 18 representatives from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and IFAD. The conversation explored the assets and aspirations of the poor and how empowerment can help increase confidence and unlock potential. We also met with the chief director of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, an agency that is focused on building good governance and balanced rural development. The chief director spoke of the need for leadership development among public officials and requested assistance from CCL for a program for nearly 90 directors in June 2009, to be followed by a program for other officials at the regional and district level. CCL also visited with Asheshi University in Accra that is interested in train-the-trainer programs for its faculty, and with a number of microfinance entities in Southern Ghana.

In Kumasi, CCL and IFAD conducted a session on empowerment and development for the management team of RTIMP, a government unit responsible for providing technical assistance for Ghana's main food crops. The staff expressed an appreciation for this approach and the desire for development for staff, farmers, and the collective – stating that “every individual has to build on their strengths.” Drawing on this understanding, we crafted an empowerment methodology and an instrument that assesses three components of empowerment (i.e., cognition, emotions, and behavior). The methodology and instrument were meant to enable the government agents to engage with the rural community as development partners, gain empathy for the community needs and aspirations, and help the community identify strengths and assets and how it can collectively achieve desired objectives, such as gaining access to loans and clean water. While we were able to thoroughly field test and finalize the empowerment methodology during our visit in Ghana, the empowerment instrument we created is still under development. Thus, we will need to continue to work with IFAD to field test and refine the instrument to ensure it is a useful assessment for its intended purpose and population.

With the RTIMP team, we conducted sessions in two outlying rural villages for some 120 people to test these methods. These were villages without electricity or running water. The participants were mainly farmers and included the village chief and elders. The RTIMP government agriculture agents facilitated the sessions using the methodology we had developed. The sessions were quite powerful for all involved. For the people, it created individual and collective awareness of assets, aspirations, and challenges. It built collective leadership to take the challenges. For the government agents it increased empathy, understanding, and relationships of/with the community – they were told, “with this conversation, I can trust you more.” An RTIMP facilitator stated: “What we have done will be helpful for every development worker. You learn with the community.” An observation is that this methodology of building empowerment is an important supplement to the assistance to address rural poverty. This approach contrasts with traditional approaches that set objectives for the poor with little support by way of mentoring or facilitation.

In Kumasi we met with a key officer at the Rural Enterprise Project (REP). The agency, along with the Business Advisory Centers (BAC), helps to increase rural production, employment and income through small off-farm enterprises. REP and BAC represent models that serve to increase the capacities of the poor. Seventy percent of their clients are able to set up their own enterprises. The REP officer expressed much interest in adding leadership development to their roster of services. CCL stands ready to provide a train-the-trainer program that will transfer knowledge and resources to REP trainers.

We concluded our trip to Ghana with a two-day Leadership Essentials program for 40 representatives from IFAD supported projects (MoFA, RTIMP, REP, BAC) and local NGOs working in the area of development and microfinance. The participants described the program as very different from what they had experienced before in other training. They appreciated the interactive approach and the opportunity to learn from each other. They commented on the need to create feedback-rich environments in their workplace and more collaborative approaches.

CCL and IFAD plan to continue to develop and test the empowerment instrument and methodology as a resource for community empowerment and engagement by development agencies. The work in Ghana demonstrates the potential to enable development agencies to engage communities more holistically, to fold human and empowerment development into economic development efforts, and to help communities take ownership of their challenges.

Leadership Essentials in Afghanistan

Clemson Turregano traveled to Afghanistan to deliver a Leadership Essentials program to the Afghan Army. In a series of posts on the Leading Effectively blog he recounts the experience:

"We would have to deliver in Dari. We would be working with a population that although very intelligent, and may not have a had a great deal of formal education. Every one we would be working with had served in war, with the Northern Alliance, the Mujahadeen, or even the Soviets. Some of these men had actually fought against each other, on opposite sides, at different times.

They were already good leaders – what can we do to help them become better, think differently about themselves, and their organization? How can we possibly help them think through the obstacles and focus on a vision for themselves and their country?"

He continues:

As the Afghan officers arrived for the program, many were what I pictured – hardened warriors, surviving not only years of war, but also seven testy years of uncertain peace. These men were the ones who were left, after thirty years of fighting an external enemy, then internal strife, then oppression, and now insurgency – these men had met and mastered the challenge of being true warriors. But could they lead an Army?

For the next three days, the Afghan Officers and their mentors endured the same challenges, revelations, bonding and cohesion that are the hallmark of a CCL program. At first skeptical, they drew their leadership windows, describing what made them good leaders and what they wanted to learn about leadership. They chose images from Visual Explorer that defined leadership ‘in their hearts and in their heads.’ They survived the Blizzard exercise and created consensus through teams – something many believe is close to impossible. And they mastered the helium stick activity, working together as teams to communicate and break down barriers.

At the end, one of our students, the nephew of General Massoud, commented to our American Sponsor, with his hand over his heart ( a gesture of great sincerity in Afghanistan), “..thank you for brining this to Afghanistan – we needed this training…All Afghanistan needs this training...thank you…”

Then I realized that in spite of the danger, the location and the population, we were not doing anything different from what CCL does every day – act on its beliefs, its principles and its mission:
  • All people are leaders and simply need to find the best way to lead.

  • Anyone can learn to be a leader if they want to stretch and try new approaches.

  • When provided support plus a safe and secure environment, people, regardless of background, will experiment with new ideas and create new opportunities."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Day at Good Shepherd’s Fold Orphanage in Uganda

by Mark Ferencik

Over 1,900,000 Ugandan children have lost at least one parent to AIDS. With numbers ranging from 1.2 to 1.7 million, Uganda currently has one of the highest populations of orphans in the world.

In March I had the opportunity to visit an orphanage in Uganda that is caring for over 75 orphans and educating an additional 150 local village children. A long time friend, Steadman Harrison III from the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, NC invited me to join him on a trip to this wonderful place that he has been visiting for over 4 years. Good Shepherd’s Fold Orphanage is located in a small village called Buundo, about 15 miles from the town of Jinja, where the water of the Nile river begins its long journey from Lake Victoria to the Egyptian delta. When I say small, I mean one dirt road and a web of narrow dirt paths to most of the mud homes.

My company sets aside one day for service per employee that can be used as for a service project. I used this day in special service to the orphanage by taking portraits of each child. These pictures will be used to keep record of the children, provide an up to date photo to the financial sponsors of each child, create a special photo album for the guest house so that visitors can better learn each child’s name, and my own secret wish - to give each one a special picture of themselves to keep in their few personal belongings.

Caralina, one of the missionaries’ children, was my primary helper (although my entourage grew and grew as more kids heard what I was doing). She brought a list of all the children to make sure we got everyone’s picture. I brought enough equipment with me to do a more formal lighting setup with a photographer’s umbrella, stand and lights. After milling over the logistics of getting every kid to the correct spot in some orderly form and sit still for some stranger to take their picture I opted for a lighter approach. Every house has a large porch and the shaded sunlight was soft enough for good portraits. I also needed a dark backdrop as dark skinned children lose lots of their detail in high contract lighting. The exterior doors at each house are made of gorgeous tropical hardwoods that served as perfect backdrops (the woodworker in me kept trying to find a way to bring one home in my suitcase). So Caralina and I went from house to house. She gathered the children in a group outside each house. Enticed by the promise of a “sweetie” (lollipop), I lined them up, one at a time in front of the door for their picture. Caralina carefully made sure every child was checked off the list. It took a lot of running around and a good sunburn on my neck but we managed to get the job done.

At first it was just an overwhelming number of children and I’m not very good at remembering names. For Ugandan children, forgetting their name can be taken as a sign that you don’t care for them. So I tried my best to remember the few names I could and for the others I just did what I could to avoid having to use their names in conversation. Fortunately you don’t have to know a kid’s name to play with them.

The missionaries running the orphanage do an excellent job to keep everyone healthy, well fed, protected and well educated. The local staff of 7 guards, 10 farmers, 4 cooks, 10 housemothers, 6 maintenance workers, a nurse, an office manager, 2 housekeepers and 12 teachers provide tremendous care for these beautiful children. They grow enough food on their own farm to feed all the children with enough left over to sell to the local villagers. The maintenance department keeps the buildings and vehicles in great order. There is a beautiful church on the grounds. I will never forget the beautiful singing of the children and being surrounded by the little kids that just wanted to sit close and hold my hand for the whole worship service. A little boy named Jimmy, who just lost a front tooth the day before, wiggled in close to my left side and grinned with a big gap the whole time.

When you are at an orphanage the question always arises about how do you get parents interested in adopting these children? Wouldn’t it be much better for them to live in an affluent country like the U.S. or the U.K.? In some cases the answer is “yes.” There are many younger children who would clearly flourish elsewhere and not miss the culture they are born into. Some of the older children have a very strong desire to be elsewhere and adoption would be a great option for them. However, most of the children have a very deep sense of family with the other children and the caretakers. They are Ugandans after all and Ugandans have a strong sense of social fabric. A child taken out of Uganda trades two very different lives: a simple life where basic needs are met and joy comes from the simplicity of an evening soccer game for a world where our excesses kill us in the form of fatty foods, stress from credit card debt and addictions of all kinds. It’s not that adoption isn’t a great option, just that it’s a more complicated issue than I ever thought about.

Steadman has grown particularly close with a very special group of boys who live in structure called Agape house. When he first started visiting the orphanage 4 years ago, Agape house was reserved for the sickest children. A number of the children are HIV positive and they were kept separate from the rest of the children mainly for their own protection from illness. On this trip we were surprised to find that Agape house had been integrated with a full age range of boys from high school to young elementary school sick and healthy. We spent several evenings in Agape just talking with the boys, playing some guitar songs together and just giving them the hugs around the shoulders that they so badly want from a father figure. They are such sweet kids with not even a hint of cynicism. My dear friend was very choked up the last evening as we left Agape house telling me how badly these kids need a father and how much he wants to bring his family to Uganda and live there. After 3 weeks of being away from them I’m beginning to better understand his feelings. The missionaries who live there and the housemothers do a wonderful job taking care of the kids and giving them whatever affection they can but it’s clearly too big of a job to give each child the personal attention they need.

You can help. Donations are always needed. There are always more children to take in. There are always improvements to be made to structures and there are always ideas for improving the lives of the children. If you feel a calling to consider adoption there are many children who would love to meet you. If you have any interest in the beautiful, friendly people of Africa – find a way to go there. If you would like to know more about the orphanage visit their web site There is so much more to share about the trip. Please contact me if you would like to know more.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Leadership Essentials and Public Health in Africa

In early March, Steadman Harrison represented the Global Voice of Leadership team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia delivering the Leadership Essentials Program for a group of 92 senior leaders from 14 African countries. Columbia University's International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) came together for a 3 day conference focused on strategy, innovation, and leadership development. CCL provided the Leadership Essentials Program in response to the request for an affordable and accessible solution for a large diverse group of public health leaders. Leveraging the strong relationships with Leadership Beyond Boundaries (LBB) alumni in Ethiopia, we were able to bring co-facilitators to the classroom to join us on short notice. The large group of 92 met together for some plenary sessions and the majority of the exercises took place in smaller group sessions facilitated by Ahadu Gebreamlak, JT Vaughn, and Briana Harper. Social Identity, CCL's Assessment-Challenge-Support model, Visual Explorer, and the 7 Dimensions of Global Leadership reflective tool all received a great deal of appreciation.

Early Leadership & the Graphic Novel Exercise

This past Friday members of our Early Leadership team delivered Social Identity and the Graphic Novel Exercise for a group of 35 university students. Half of the student group were from the Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL in Louvain-la-Neuve in Brussels, Belgium. The other half were American students from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. As part of their studies with the Center for Entrepreneurship, these students had worked together in geographically dispersed teams to complete a business planning project over the past 3 months. The dialogue surfaced various frustrations with communication, culture differences, trust building, deadlines, and negotiation. As part of the Graphic Novel Exercise they were asked to present individual leadership stories using a single 8.5X11 sheet of paper, breaking it into frames. They were then instructed to get together in their project teams and consolidate the 4 sets into one story representing the entire group's story. At the close of the session they presented the story to the entire class. The professors, including Bryan Toney (Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship) were impressed with the rich debrief the process provided. Several of the students commented how the session brought about a much deeper sense of resolution closing the chapter of their completed projects and allowing them to use humor and other creative means of giving each other feedback where they voiced feelings that had not yet been shared. Our team was really pleased and impressed with the group work.

The idea for the Graphic Novel Exercise was inspired by Tom Kealey of Stanford University. Tom presented his work with the Graphic Novel Project at an Association of Managers of Innovation (AMI) meeting last Spring in San Diego and we subsequently co-delivered one workshop using this exercise here at CCL. The Graphic Novel Exercise is a great tool for younger audiences. The students commented today how it helped them reframe "creativity" and how they were surprised that - despite very few of them having formal background in art, design or graphics - they were able to pull together coherent stories that the whole group could follow.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Leadership Metaphor Explorer

Leadership Metaphor Explorer™ is a postcard size deck of 80 illustrated metaphors for leadership. It can be used for coaching, talent development, leadership awareness, reflection & dialogue, for youths and adults--it helps people get a bigger mind about leadership. The metaphors illustrate three stages of leadership logic: dependent, independent, and interdependent leadership.

For more information about Leadership Metaphor Explorer, please see our website at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Social Entrepreneurs: Transforming Society (and Self)

On a winter morning, a young photojournalist named Anshu Gupta was making the rounds of Delhi in search of news when he saw a rickshaw with an unusual sign stating “We collect bodies for the government.” Intrigued he approached the driver and learned that he picked-up bodies found on the streets of the city for a small fee. The winter months resulted in a spike in the number of deaths from people who lacked adequate clothing and shelter, so much so that the driver couldn’t keep up. The insight led to Anshu creating an NGO named Goonj and a system to channel surplus used clothing from the rich in the cities to the poor. The Goonj network now operates in half of all India to distribute something abundant in one area and desperately needed in another. The poor receive the clothes not as charity but an affordable price or in exchange for work, creating dignity and sustainability.

Anshu’s story was one of many we heard at the XLRI Social Entrepreneurship Conference in Jamshedpur, India. Among the dozens of inspiring accounts, there were those of Pradip Sarmah who created a model to enable rickshaw drivers to own their vehicles, Chetna Gala Sinha who created a b-school for rural entrepreneurs, and Rajiv Khandelwal who created a bureau for providing migrant workers with services. In each case the social entrepreneur developed a model to bring essential services and empowerment to a population that had been exploited or ignored by corporations or the government. The innovations created were often strikingly simple yet scaleable.

Social entrepreneurship is a wave that is transforming the social sector. Social entrepreneurs create solutions to address critical needs unaddressed by government or business. In contrast to many nonprofits and social service agencies, social entrepreneurs bring an innovative approach that leverages the resources and talents of the poor and often use business-like approaches – even for-profit models – to create sustainable solutions.

So what makes a social entrepreneur? A CCL team had attended the XLRI conference to gather feedback on a competency model we had developed for the Acumen Fund Fellows. In the stories of the entrepreneurs and a dialogue we facilitated with participants, we heard and saw:

  • an uncompromising commitment to the poor but an orientation that bypasses charity for business models
  • a genius for seeing needs and solving problems
  • a willingness to take a personal stand and stand-up new solutions
  • a measure of empathy and humility matched by courage and perseverance

Can social entrepreneurs be made? The world clearly needs many more social entrepreneurs and many educational institutions – from Duke University and Stanford in the US to Oxford University in the UK to TISS and XLRI in India – are working to nurture a new crop of social change agents. At the conference we saw no shortage of passion from talented young people wanting to make a difference for the poor and disadvantaged. As a development organization, we believe that skills can be acquired and honed when there is a commitment to learn and grow.

Our efforts indicate that in addition to learning the hard business skills, a necessary sphere of development is building the soft skills that underlie a social entrepreneur’s success – self-awareness, empathy, resilience, creativity, influence, an action-orientation, and the ability to build relationships. The Center is working to create a curriculum that can help develop these essential competencies. The social entrepreneurs we have met have invariably gone through a profound internal transformation that fueled the social transformations they have created in the world. Bringing change into the world requires that we begin with ourselves. As Gandhi said, we must become the change we want to see in the world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Poverty - A Leadership Dilemma

Mahatma Gandhi was famous for powerful sayings and even more powerful actions. He said, “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” He acted on convictions like, “We must become the change we want to see in the world.”

On a recent visit to India I witnessed first hand the violence of poverty and the creative power of individuals becoming change.

The rural poor of India – especially women – are extremely limited in their power when they stand alone. One might work all day and earn the equivalent of a single US dollar. Most of that will be immediately spent on the necessities of life – food, clothing, and shelter. What is left over (sometimes pennies) provides almost no buying power.

The self-help group enables women to stand together and as a collective they increase their power. The left-over pennies at the end of a days work from fifteen to twenty women can buy household supplies, can be saved for a week or two weeks to buy raw materials for a business.

Non-government organizations (NGOs) across India have seen the power that self-help groups can provide and are doing what they can to foster the creation of more and more of these collectives. One NGO that we met with in New Delhi, PRADAN, has worked with more than 10,000 self-help groups (SHGs) across seven states in India, representing a total membership of more than 150,000 rural poor women. These SHGs have mobilized a total savings of 6 million US dollars.

Each SHG is typically assigned a mentor. The mentor promotes the self-help group concept at the community and village level and coordinates the meetings. Leadership roles are assigned like group leader, secretary, and treasurer. A pattern for saving money is established and the group talks together to decide how they will spend the money. Sometimes money may be loaned to serve individual house-hold needs. A group may decide to create a common business and use their collective purchasing power to support the business. A single mentor in a village quickly becomes the change they want to see.

How do these women navigate the complexities inherent as a large group of people come together around a common piece of work? How do they agree on a shared vision for what to do in the future (Direction)? How do they map their existing resources and pull together to meet the challenges (Alignment)? How do they set realistic and tangible goals that they can achieve along designated milestones (Commitment)? These are fundamental principles of leadership.

NGOs like PRADAN help these women dream of what the future can be. They help the group assess their current situation. They provide tools and models for dealing with the conflict and communication issues that will inevitably come up as a diverse group wrestles with consensus and the need for giving and receiving feedback.

Our goal is to provide these NGOs with the very best tools in the world to make these mentors and the self-help groups they serve successful. We want to reach hundreds of thousands of grassroots leaders – the rural and urban poor. When we all stand together there is an even greater power to change the world.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

LBB Alumni Train Leadership Essentials for Egerton University

by Kristin Naituli and Bancy Wanjiru

It was indeed a great learning opportunity for the three of us, [Kristin Naituli, Mary Chepkoech and Bancy Wanjiru] in hosting a recent Leadership Essentials workshop. We had a huge number of participants, so much content to deliver over a very short period of time and with limited resources. But guess what! WE DID IT! We did our best, though everything didn’t go the way we expected or planned, but those were learning opportunities for us. Having not had an experience like that before, the students were eager to learn, very excited about the whole idea and very happy to be involved. In fact, most of them want to be involved in such a program more often. They want to develop leadership competencies at a personal and corporate level.

This most recent run of Leadership Essentials was a one day event that took place on Saturday Nov 22, 2008 at Egerton University, Njoro Campus. We had 74 subjects from the Student Leadership Practices Inventory survey, then 8 student assistants, and 5 participants from ERMIS Africa.

We invited the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Administration & Finance, a Professor who is also on the Board of ERMIS Africa, and a lecturer involved in student career-development. These three started out by sharing about their leadership development journey and the students really loved having real leaders talk about their real life experiences. The leaders also expressed gratitude and appreciation for being invited to this very special and groundbreaking event.

We facilitated the Visual Explorer tool to define leadership and to clarify the distinction between management and leadership. After tea-break we spent considerable time explaining the Kouzes and Posner Leadership model including The Five Practices of exemplary leadership (practices they were being evaluated on in their 360-assessment instrument):
- Model the way
- Inspire a shared vision
- Challenge the process
- Enable others to act, and
- Encourage the heart

We then distributed the personal leadership profiles (from the 360-degree assessment using Student Leadership Practices Inventory (SLPI) to each of the students and went through each page of the report / profile explaining it step by step ending with a brief session on personal action-planning to improve on leadership practices based on the strengths and development needs on the feedback report. After lunch we came back for Development is Dynamic and Learning Curve, Emotional Intelligence, and Situation Behavior Impact Feedback Model (SBI).

As we delivered the training and interacted with the students, we realized what we were offering was actually what they were looking for. They are thirsty for more, they want to be prepared mentally for the challenges awaiting them in the market place and so we felt the need to prepare a proactive toolkit – at least for 4th year college students who are about to get to the job market, take them through a basic course with important elements like Mental Models, Development is Dynamic, the Learning Curve, Essentials of Emotional Intelligence, SBI feedback as well as personality preference tests to help them know themselves and understand others. These are tools that would be very useful to young professionals who are going out into a competitive market place with aspirations of taking leadership in various fields.

We also had assessment forms in place similar to the forms given to us by CCL to use for the workshops we facilitated the last week in Addis. As we handed out the forms at the end of the day and the students started filling them, our microphone team put this really soothing music on through the speakers. And we witnessed the entire room settling down at an instant, actually the group as a whole was transcending in front of our eyes and all of a sudden this tranquil peace dawned and stayed with us as they were all really focused on filling their feedback forms, down to the last line item. It was almost divine! We could basically touch and feel the peace and the joyous energy just take hold of all of us.

In this elated atmosphere we did our closing ceremony calling each of the participants by name and having them come up to shake hands and receive a certificate of participation. We resolved to engage in the five practices more often and as such enhance our individual leadership capacities. We ended as we had started with a word of prayer and a vote of thanks.

In addition to the workshop modules, we had a "democracy-wall" at the back of the room with paper, markers, tape and space for participants to express their feelings, discoveries, observations and suggestions (I FELT, I NOTICED, I DISCOVERED, I WOULD LIKE TO SUGGEST) as the workshop was progressed. It’s always a joy to see this noble task of developing leaders grow from one level to another with every passing year.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Community Leaders Speak

Some 60 community leaders from North Carolina attended three simultaneous Leadership Essentials programs held at the Center's Greensboro campus on November 24 & 25, 2008*. A video created by Josh Weinstein of Inside Cinema captures some of the participants' voices on the impact the program and importance of leadership development for nonprofits.

Evon J. Smith, Executive Director of Goler Community Development Corporation, was a participant in the program. She wrote to us about her experience:

"I suspected the leadership class was worth every minute! Each tool helped everyone in my group think differently about our emotional communication at work and our interactions with others in our personal life. It was great! The people that were in our class were wonderful and contacts we would not have the opportunity to make otherwise. I got more out of the class than I expected. Our facilitators connected with the class by presenting the information in so many different ways you could not miss getting it. Many of us stated that we wish we had a week to delve deeper into the cases where we could apply the tools learned over and over. Please never underestimate the value that this opportunity has for community leaders, especially those in the non-profit industry. "

* The program was sponsored by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Revolutionary Effects of Leadership Development

Written by Amon Anderson of Acumen Fund - Nairobi, Kenya

I’ve been studying, working with and thinking about leadership development for the last seven years, but I never stop being surprised. This summer, I led an idea session for the Center for Creative Leadership to brainstorm how leadership development could be applied in the context of poverty. But in this group of East Africans, West Africans, and North Americans, we could barely agree on semantics—leadership for the base of the pyramid, bottom of the pyramid, leadership for the majority, leadership for all… But no matter what we called it, we all could agree that not only did the poor have little access to leadership development tools, but the research and resources at hand had limited relevance to someone living in poverty.

That is not to say that there aren’t leaders. I have had the honor of meetings leaders born into poverty and raised through adversity who demonstrate true leadership irrespective of socio-economic status. Living in Ethiopia, I met Solomon, a young man who lost three of his limbs when the Addis-Djibouti railway overturned on route to Dire Dawa, Ethiopia’s second city. Solomon ended up in one of Mother Theresa’s clinics and tried a variety of prosthetic options, none of them feasible for the life he would lead in Ethiopia. He decided to pack it up and return home. Solomon wanted to start his own business and I worked with him over a period of months to figure out how he could make it happen. Solomon left his old community, where people saw him as half the man he once was, and established one of the most successful video rental shops in his new neighborhood. His business has grown quickly because Solomon has impressed and befriended those around him, and he’s not done yet. He’s sending home money to his mother, employing boys from the street and he dreams of opening a proper internet cafĂ©. After such a devastating accident, many in Ethiopia take to the streets as beggars—either by choice or by force—but Solomon chose a different path. His optimism, courage, and work ethic helped him found his shop and attract a growing number of customers each day.

For me, leadership is about unlocking human potential. In my work with the Cherokee Gives Back Foundation and the Acumen Fund, I have struggled to find entrepreneur-leaders and provide them with the financial support needed to succeed and alleviate poverty through market-oriented solutions. But finance is only part of the picture. I have participated in two Leadership Essential programs, designed by the Center for Creative Leadership’s Global Voices of Leadership initiative, and experienced first-hand the impact of “leadership development for the majority.” I see immediate potential to introduce these tools to a broader audience in East Africa, but I see an even greater opportunity/challenge. How do we take this concept of leadership development and apply it to the people living in the villages and slums. In East Africa, the “pyramid” looks more like the Eiffel Tower—a needle at the top and large in its foundation. I believe that realizing the human potential of this “foundation” will require creativity and a cross-disciplinary effort. But I also believe in the power leadership development to transform the paradigm. Solomon is one of those extraordinary leaders who succeed, no matter the odds. There are many more out there like Solomon, and with appropriate and accessible leadership development, the effects could be revolutionary.