Diversity and Collaboration Make the Masters Give Back Program Rock!
Notes from the Field: Masters Give Back
One of the great traditions of the annual Leadership Challenge Forum is the chance for a few of us to facilitate a special Masters Give Back offering of The Leadership Challenge® Workshop. Each year it’s an opportunity to Model the Way as we strive toward the goal of “liberating the leader in everyone”—specifically a diverse group of non-profit leaders in and around the community in which we meet. This yearly workshop is a collaborative effort—with Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, our colleagues at Wiley, Certified Masters, Certified Masters-in-Training, and Global Training Partners—that is often a highlight of the Forum experience for the people involved. And this year was no exception, with the themes of diversity and collaboration dominating our team’s experience as we gathered for Forum 2017 in San Diego.
The facilitator team is diverse in its own right: different nationalities and backgrounds, all coming from different places across the globe. We had Evans Kerrigan from New Jersey, Amy Dunn from Connecticut, Connie Stevens from Shanghai, and Debbie Nicol who lives and works in Dubai but hails originally from Australia. And with different continents, widely varying time zones, and access to conflicting communication and document sharing technology, creative collaboration was key from the start of our planning process. In fact, the only “live” group meeting we were able to pull off in advance of meeting in San Diego was conducted exclusively via an international text app! Less than ideal, but the collaborative spirit and a good dose of humor made for a productive session despite the obstacles. Perhaps you could say we Challenged the Process!
The impact on the entire team was best described by Debbie Nicol when she said, “Diversity is like a vast tapestry, bestowing upon a wall or floor new colors and textures. With the sharing of facilitation techniques and approaches, my tapestry became bigger and brighter, and a lot more to pack in my bags as I spread the word of The Leadership Challenge across the seas.” Each one of us echoes that feeling (not necessarily as poetically) after a wonderful process of creating and delivering the program and learning from each other.
We also had help from a diverse group of other collaborators. As part of our extended facilitating team family, a big shout out to San Diego-based co-founder of Integris Performance Advisors, Tracy O’Rourke, who tapped into her area network to raise awareness of this opportunity and was instrumental in engaging the group of non-profit leaders who attended. As the Global Training Partner sponsor of this years’ program, Integris also volunteered the time and talents of co-founder Brett Cooper (a great example of Inspire a Shared Vision) and Client Experience Director Samantha Kerrigan (a great example of GSD – otherwise known as Getting Stuff DONE!). Their collaboration was certainly one that Enabled (Us) Others to Act.
Our 19 workshop participants represented great diversity as well, with leaders coming from a variety of organizations, including San Diego Zoo Global, Challenge Center, AIDS Service Foundation OC, Fred Finch Youth Center, GLA Foundation, National Defense Industrial Association, San Diego Humane Society, Boy Scouts, Bread of Life Rescue Mission, and San Diego Council on Literacy. Beginning with the LPI® and a review of all participants’ results, everyone engaged in a variety of exercises and small group discussions that brought each of The Five Practices to life—including the Paper Towers activity that helped demonstrate the Practice of Enable Others to Act. We also used an Awards Table packed with small dollar-store items that underscored one of the key commitments to Encourage the Heart: “Recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence.” Throughout the day participants called time out to select and present an award any time they felt moved to do so.
A highlight for everyone was the opportunity to join a special Q & A session over lunch with Jim and Barry that really enriched the experience for our workshop participants! They gained a deeper understanding about The Leadership Challenge and The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. Many thanks to the authors for their openness and generous sharing.
And finally, at the end of the day each participant was asked to share two words that captured the essence of their experience and take-away insights. We heard things like “amazing experience”, “very inspiring”, “thought-provoking” and “meaningful feedback”. For John Damstra, local Boy Scouts Troop Leader, there was no hesitation. Quickly pointing to a chart on the wall, he declared, “That’s my takeaway!”’. The chart showing a simple structure to increase the impact of recognition read: 1) Link item with action, 2) What that showed us about you, 3) What that did for us. This best practice is one Debbie uses effectively to support people practicing recognition while in the workshop setting and can continue to be a valuable tool for them back on the job as well. In fact, John acknowledged that he could see how using these tips will help him double the impact of his efforts by reinforcing individual excellence while also building a spirit of community.
Another participant, Regional VP of the Fred Finch Youth Center Ali Freedman, summed up her experience this way: “The amount of material covered in one day was remarkable. By changing our groups and having us engage with different small groups in different areas not only helped us get the most out of the diversity within the group, but it also helped us remember the different exercises and hold on to the salient points. I came away feeling my day was very well spent and I would continue to draw from the material and the process for a long time to come as I continue to progress as a leader.”
In addition to the wonderful feeling of giving back to leaders who give so much in service to their communities, Amy and Evans also were honored to be able to give back to the Certified Master program. As Amy reflected, “As a Certified Master-in-Training in 2015, I was invited by Dan Schwab and Tom Pearce to participate in that year’s Masters Give Back workshop in San Francisco. It was an important and enriching experience on my journey of becoming a Certified Master and I was so pleased to have the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ to Connie and Debbie this year. When Renee Harness (mentor to Debbie) and Tom Pearce (mentor to Connie) reached out to see if we could include them, Evans and I jumped at the chance to do so.”
We all feel honored and privileged to be part of Masters Give Back program and learned not only from our fellow facilitators but also from the participants. Connie shared a Chinese saying, “Teaching benefits teachers as well as students”. This experience shows how true that saying is.
Qiu Hua (Connie) Stephens is a Certified Master-in-Training of The Leadership Challenge and founder of Shanghai-based HeadStart Consulting Inc. where she works with clients throughout Asia and the U.S. on leadership development, coaching, and organization development. She is also an ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with over 3000 coaching hours. She can be reached at email@example.com
Debbie Nicol is a Certified Master-in-Training of The Leadership Challenge and founder of Dubai-based ‘business en motion’, a business consultancy and learning organization which moves businesses and leaders ahead through training, coaching and consultancy services. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Dunn, a Certified Professional Coach and Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge, is principal of Dunn Talent Consulting and a frequent collaborator with the Integris Performance Advisors consulting team where she focuses on facilitation, coaching, talent management, and meeting design. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Evans Kerrigan, a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge, is a founder and Managing Partner of Integris Performance Advisors, a consulting company dedicated to increasing the existence of healthy organizations and great places to work. He provides consulting services in leadership, team development, continuous improvement and strategic planning. Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.