Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Sunday 19 October 2008

Future Leadership Training

Supporting the next generation of sustainable development leadership was the title of one of the workshops during the World Conservation Congress. It was well attended. What struck me was the amount of young enthusiastic professionals consuming silently an hour of speeches and the ceremony of signing an MoU. The speeches were about how CEOs and young professionals of sustainable development institutions had planned their career and what made them land into their current position. This 'framed' the discussion, that followed.

During the signing ceremony, there was a bit of a dissonant, when a young professional tried to make a point. Although he referred to an earlier meeting that I did not attend, what came across for me was that young people to a certain extent hold the older generation – the leaders of the sustainable development organizations included - responsible for the current crisis. They don’t like to hear: “we are too old for change: it is up to the next generation to make the real changes”, or words of a similar meaning.

For me he was at the core of the leadership discussion. If current leaders cannot change and walk the talk of new values and lifestyle, they cannot ask of the next generation, once they make place for them in the system, to say: “No, I don’t need that UN salary and the lifestyle coming with it. What the world now needs is leaders that simply live simple. Leaders that say no to personal or short term organizational gain when that goes at the costs of other people, the organization or society. Leaders that live the universal values that will make the earth a place where diverse cultures live together in a civilized manner.”

Leadership training should be about how current leaders learn and change. About what makes them take decisions to generate transformational change in systems, and how in the process they have had to change themselves to have a real impact. It is one thing to learn how to become a CEO or get a job in a sustainable development organization, but it is quite another thing to look at a range of challenges for leadership positions in societies all over the world that may not have the same pay but are similarly or even more important for the changes we need. The workshop ended with the hope of one participants that the next Congress we have an MoU with more than 400 organizations.

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