Building Sustainable Legacies


Safe and powerful learning environments

The basic requirement for developing these leaders is a framework that addresses the whole person and that creates the needed openness and support for them. As such, education must provide the fertile grounds that allows for profound personal and professional development. Students and participants, irrespective of their age, will need a serious amount of personal courage to confront their fears, to let go of the views they hold on the world and on themselves and to drop the mask of a so-called educated perspective. Daring to let go of the roles we all hold requires a safe space. Developing and exploring both an inner attitude that is connected to our inner self and an outer attitude that reflects a truly human view of compassion requires a learning environment in which making mistakes is considered progress rather than failure.

Developing a safe and powerful learning environment requires a shift from knowledge teaching to sharing the journey of learning. It forms the entry ticket for transformational learning and involves the ability of the facilitating teacher to hold a safe space within which the greatest potential can emerge. Creating this kind of safe environment requires the facilitator to master the following competencies:

  • Relate to each student with personal authenticity, not pretending to have competencies or knowledge that one lacks. This learning-oriented attitude on the part of a professor can set the tone that it is acceptable not to take the risks that learning entails.
  • Be comfortable with an appropriate degree of self-disclosure, thus paving the way for disclosure on the part of students to more fully discuss the challenges they are facing and the feedback they receive.
  • Make the participants’ needs a priority and demonstrate acceptance of the students’ current abilities both academically and in terms of their leadership development.
  • Live a nonjudgmental attitude as a needed form of support. Be non-prescriptive (as a professor) in class discussions.  Good facilitators do not tell participants exactly what to do, but rather ask (both directly and indirectly) that participants take responsibility for their own development in many ways.
  • Provide a process that places participants in the position of deciding what the information means to them and how to best integrate that into their learning and development. While this process can benefit from coaching and mentoring, it should not be one that gives students all the answers.[1]

 


[1]            King, S. & Santana, L. (2010). “Feedback Intensive Programs” in Van Velsor, E., McCauley, C., & Ruderman, M. (Eds.) Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development, 3rd Edition.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

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Fixing the game by Roger Martin

Another fine book by R. Martin and finally a concrete review of the financial system and crisis, the flawed underlying assumptions and how we can correct a system that has gotten way out of hand! A must read for anybody who wants to understand on what hinges our world right now!


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Collaboratories: the result of holding a space

The capability to “hold a space” becomes the central purpose of management education. The capability of holding a space grounds deeply in our human heritage; it represents the ultimate duty of the Elders among many indigenous people. In our world, this capacity is known as the fundamental skills of a good coach; the degree to which a coach is able to create and hold such a space determines the potential outcome of a coaching session[1].

Figure 2: Holding a space is about the ability to create the right frame. The black frames above represent the common thread among these different expressions of our vision: a) a fertile ground, b) putting the fire in the middle symbolizes respecting future generations in every decision taken, c) a visual of the management school of the future.

Collaborative learning platforms for action learning and research (collaboratories) become the distinguishing factor for future management school. They represent the preferred meeting place for citizens with a desire to act responsibly for the world. Participants come from all walks of life and from all 4 corners of the planet. They share a common passion for wanting to make a difference and they co-share the responsibility of learning with the faculty. They include both the so-called 99% including the 4 billion at the “bottom of the pyramid” as well as the 1% currently in function of responsibility and power.

Collaboratories can be located in business, in society, communities, at management schools, virtually or a combination of all of these. The key of these platforms is that they are organized around issues rather than disciplines. Issues addressed include: hunger, energy, water, climate change, migration, democracy, capitalism, terrorism, disease, violence. Systemic thinking and design thinking enable step-changing innovation and rapid prototyping as fundamentals of magic: finding solutions to the impossible. Action learning and research meet in order to jointly immerse in a new type of activity: issue-centred learning focusses on environmental, societal and economic issues both globally and locally.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”         Margaret Mead

At the management school of the future, we see the faculty as lead-learners and guardians of this space. They reflect a rich combination of stakeholders: coaches, facilitators, business and management faculty, citizens, entrepreneurs and elders [2]. They see themselves as transient gatekeepers of a world in need of new solutions and stand out with their attitude of service.

 


[1]    Students tell us that we are preaching to the converted; that they realize the world is at a critical place. They want to address the issues and perceive professors as self-absorbed by their own shift in consciousness. Source: GRLI Meeting Stuttgart 2011.

[2]    The energy of an elder, or the stereotypical grandmother, complements a learning environment with an essential factor: grand-mothers (uncles, retired professors, god-mothers, etc.) are storytellers able to put a current issue into a larger perspective. They have experienced many phases of success and failure, exploration and disappointment not only from a global, economic or societal perspective, but also from a human point of view of individual cycles of life.