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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.

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