We have been designing a couple of new courses on leadership. We started with a couple of questions:
* What is leadership?
* Do we need to teach leadership?
Let's start by re-thinking what leadership is. Many still think of leaders as 'those others' - the louder ones who step up and step in. But there is so much more to leadership. Leadership is not about telling others what to do. Leadership is about having an awareness of our inner-convictions which lead us to an ethical and creative life. It is growing to let these convictions guide us, starting with us, our inner world, so we are not misled by outside forces, by trends or by peer pressure. It starts with leading ourselves.
As we understand how diverse humans are, moreover, it stands to reason that different people will be able to offer unique leadership. That some will see patterns where others only perceive chaos. That some will find music in the steps of every day. That some will have an ethical compass that calls us back to our senses (as I write this I have in mind particular Thinkers I have taught over the year, who put a smile on my face as they shared their unique insight in class, and moved class discussion to a different level by sharing their unique views). To move into a better future our understanding of leadership needs to make space to listen to these different voices. And some of these voices are very quiet, gentle, even whispers. We need to create a space where these diverse leaders can share their insights.
Leadership is a skill and an art. And like other skills and arts, they require thoughtful practice and honing. This is where our job as educators comes in. To teach young people to listen to their inner-voice, while at the same time helping them shape this inner voice by exposing them to different perspectives, to knowledge and information. To give young people the opportunity to practice thinking about solutions to challenges - by setting up challenges for them, immersing ourselves into different possibilities, exploring new worlds.
There are various skills we need to develop to grow as leaders. One of them has been called 'sensemaking' by Karl Weick (1995). This refers to how we start to make sense of the unknown. Think about when you go to a new city for the first time. There is nothing there that you know. How can you understand it, how can you decide what to do next? There are a few options: you can walk into it, and find a sense with your feet. You can find a map and try to get an areal understanding of the layout. Y
ou can walk up to someone and ask for direction and guidance. What would you do?
Of course, a much higher unknown is at stake: the future. We need to prepare young people to make sense of a future no one knows. They need strategies to learn to collect information, to discuss findings, to learn from others, and, ultimately, to step into the void. To be brave and courageous and know that they can make a good choice for themselves and others.
Would you like to join our leadership adventure? We are looking at two courses: a self-paced course where Thinkers can explore their ideas and skills through video-lectures, readings, and projects, and a group class to do the same.