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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

11,520 Minutes to Transformation

Janice Tan of Halogen Foundation in Singapore was one of the trainers who attended the Leadership Beyond Boundaries train-the-trainer program in Mumbai, India. She wrote to us of her experience. We are pleased to share her words with her permission.

"It is one of those rare moments in life when one is blessed with an amazing learning opportunity that transforms into a life-changing experience that just doesn’t allow you to remain who you were before. And to have that happen at the point in life most needed is just icing on the cake. That one such rare moment took place from 25 August 2008 to 1 September 2008, in bustling Mumbai for me.

In a place foreign to me, where race or age did not matter because learning and respect did; I began to fall in passionately in love with learning and the person within me. I had spent 11520 minutes of my life with 22 amazing human beings who journeyed, laughed and learnt with me. They were whom I regard as teachers of life, friends who affirmed and comrades who inspired. The "magic" in the environment was made up of support, respect for everyone and the passion to learn. What I have learnt these 11520 minutes is far greater than I’ve ever received from the formal education I had. This was where I discovered my educational eutopia.

Their lives inspired, speeches taught and affirmation nurtured a part of me which I was unaware existed. I began to articulate thoughts that I have always hesitated to express and that became a crucial learning for my personal thought process. Thoughts evoked during meaningful conversations became more than just mere food for thought, but sustenance essential for development. Leadership Beyond Boundaries truly reflected the essence of the experience, it transcended not only cultural and racial boundaries, but that of self-limiting precepts too. Now, moving forward to live out and honor the learning and people who have invested in me. I will commit to pay it forward by taking my learning to greater heights and enabling others with them. "

Janice works with hundreds of young people in Singapore and beyond. The people who spent time with her in India described her as "amazing." We are delighted that the Leadership Beyond Boundaries program will help her increase the tremendous impact she already has in helping so many young people unlock their potential.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reflections from Leadership Beyond Boundaries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

by Bancy Wanjiru, Program Administrator for ERMIS Africa in Nakuru, Kenya

I count it a privilege and an honor to have had the opportunity to participate in the leadership beyond boundaries program in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 14th – 23rd, July 2008. The program presented one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve had in my life to rediscover the person I am and rethink my vision and role as a leader. Having participated in a CCL’s workshop before and gone through various publications by CCL, I knew right from the start that the content of the program was going to have a big impact on me as an individual, my vision and those around me. It was an opportunity that opened me up to a whole new world, stretched my vision and mind to see and think beyond geographical boundaries and challenged me to develop my multicultural skills. It was an opportunity that ignited my passion for leadership development, built my confidence in delivering leadership sessions and challenged me to step out of the norm and pursue the noble task of liberating the leader that lies within individuals.

My expectations of the training’s content were high, but I was anxious about who I would meet in a foreign country where I have never been before. As the program started, my anxiety melted away at the introductory social identity session, perhaps there was no better way to start - it certainly helped break barriers within the team. For me, it was a very comprehensive way of introducing me to myself and to others. I got to know who is who in the classroom and within the first hour of the program, it felt like we had bonded and known each other for a long time. We were friends, sharing the same passion and with a common goal to learn and grow together; and so the classroom became a place where we put aside our credentials, age and positions to focus on our development as leaders.

My experience in the classroom was different from any other I have had before. Sharing with participants expanded my knowledge base and helped me generate more ideas and identify leadership gaps existing in my life and my society back home. I learnt from experiences the team shared as the discussions presented a platform for new perspectives, opportunities, insights and challenges in development that helped me contextualize the concepts of leadership to see how they fit in my personal, social and work life. The facilitation process opened me up to a simple yet impact way of delivering a leadership training, I learnt the need to open my mind to learn from the trainees and allow discussions flow around the concepts shared. The learning process challenged my thought process and brought new insights and perspectives that I find useful in leading myself and others as well as facilitating development and growth in others. I realized that whether one is a facilitator or a participant, opportunities to learn are unending.

I am passionate and keen to share these insights with friends, workmates and those that I lead in different social settings because leadership can be learnt, leadership is everybody’s business and leadership development is about self-development. I am grateful to the Center for Creative Leadership and ERMIS Africa for having invested in me through this program; it was a learning opportunity that impacted my life and changed it in a very special way.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Leadership Development for the Majority

Originally posted on Lamp Post Reports - August 17, 2008 - by John T. Vaughn

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), based in Greensboro, NC over the past forty years has established itself as one of the, if not the, premier leadership development institutes. CCL’s specialty, historically, has been providing leadership development to Fortune 500 & 5000 type companies, the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Special Forces among other top clients. CCL has written and researched extensively on the subject of creative leadership, defined as “the capacity to achieve more than imagined by thinking and acting beyond boundaries” (from HBS case study on CCL). Currently, they have satellite offices in Colorado Springs, Colorado; San Diego, California; Brussels, Belgium; and Singapore. Dissatisfied with reaching only the 20,000 or so clients who annually pass through CCL training programs, CCL launched the Global Voice of Leadership (GVOL) initiative roughly three years ago. The GVOL initiative was launched with the intention of providing forty years worth of knowledge capital in leadership development to the majority (some like to call it the base of the pyramid).

CCL has been working on this initiative in a number of ways, but the one I can speak most knowledgeably of is their effort here in Ethiopia. Back in February I attended CCL’s first ever Leadership Beyond Boundaries course, a two week course to provide leaders in the developing world with the necessary tools and training to take what they learn about self awareness, direction, alignment, commitment and giving feedback back to their staff (most located in the developing world). The first course was hosted at CCL’s headquarters in Greensboro, NC but leaders based in Nigeria, Lagos, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, India, the Caribbean, the US and other areas attended. Needless to say, it was quite the diverse group and I learned a tremendous amount.

Since that time, CCL has been engaged in a more intimate, though informal, relationship with Cherokee Gives Back. Gives Back’s presence in Addis provided CCL a base from which to recruit attendees for a Leadership Beyond Boundaries program held in Addis Ababa in mid-July. The workshop turned out to be quite a success. During the last two days of the workshop, the primary attendees (eleven in all, from various countries in East Africa) were required to practice what they learned by delivering a Leadership Essentials workshop to nearly forty local leaders (again, with the hope that these leaders would then train their staff or colleagues). These forty local leaders were from various sectors including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector and university students. The feedback from the program was generally quite positive, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.

Since the completion of the Leadership Beyond Boundaries workshop, Steadman Harrison and Dou Fall of CCL have been meeting with various organizations throughout Addis Ababa. These meetings have included a range of organizations and institutions from faith based youth programs, to Midroc (the largest private corporation in Ethiopia), Addis Ababa University, various NGOs and other grass roots organizations.

Even CCL, it seems, has been a little surprised by the high demand and prior knowledge of their organization and expertise here in the Horn of Africa. Steadman and Dou have proposals that, if signed, will keep them busy in Addis for at least the next few months.

As well, discussions have been initiated with community leaders around the topic of bringing leadership development to the majority, or base of the pyramid. This is certainly a challenge, as nearly 80% of the population is located in rural areas (costly to reach), and a large portion also do not read or write. At our first brainstorming session, the idea of broadcasting a leadership development series over the radio was mentioned as a possible distribution channel. At first glance, this idea appears to have potential as it is very much an orally based society and many people have radios, or at least access to them. As well, start-up costs should be minimal, but legalities may prevent such a series from ever launching.

One thing is clear, the demand for CCL’s expertise in creative leadership development and creative solutions is very high among the private sector, academic community, NGO sector and at the grass root level. With any luck, the contracts signed over the past few weeks will allow CCL to continue its focus on leadership development in the Horn, with the ultimate goal of providing their expertise not just to those capable of paying traditional rates but also to the majority, the base of the pyramid.