As I began my participation with the Leadership Edmonton program, one of the comments I took from the opening retreat was:
“The source of learning is life. Leadership Edmonton provides a framework to learn from these experiences.”
Well, that was a relief!
Finally, someone was going to share a framework that would make sense of all the experiences, knowledge, interactions, challenges and opportunities we face every single day and explain how we can all provide the leadership to make our way through this complex set of situations in which we find ourselves. But to what end? Was it chasing outcomes and impact? How does the world of social profit, governments and corporations fit in to this overall “end”? What was the context – were we coming at this as individuals, a group, or from humanity as a whole? Those questions were still to be answered. My curiosity was mounting and my expectations were completely reasonable.
The reality was… Leadership Edmonton started with bite-sized pieces. This was the only possible way of approaching such complexity. They started with history. From the demise of the Roman Empire to the settlement and collapse of civilization on Easter Island, understanding and learning from societies and communities, their growing populations, their use and misuse of resources and cultural dynamics provide us with examples and opportunities that can inform our present and future thinking. Next were intertwined sessions on learning, development and individual leadership. These provided an insightful focus on the ecology of leadership, wisdom and judgement, innovation, the influence of media, pioneers in their time, levels of caring and action, and the connection of science and philosophy. All these learnings were interspersed with time for reflection and meaningful discussion with colleagues. Finally, they were overlaid on a framework made of many separate pieces attempting to make sense of the whole and provide direction and support for adaptive leadership into the future. A monumental undertaking!
With my last two formal Leadership Edmonton sessions ahead of me, including some final presentations by our smaller participant cohorts (which are an incredibly interesting representation of perspective, learning and action, and probably the topic of another blog in itself!), I still wonder and still have those questions I started with. What makes it different now, after engaging in the discussions, readings, interviews, experiences, videos, presentations, events and reflection that were all a part of Leadership Edmonton? A greater awareness of the interconnected nature of systems and people, a greater sense of the responsibility we all have to engage in life and the importance of taking action towards the systemic issues affecting us now and generations into the future. And what remains is the curiosity and the expectation that we can do more.
I wondered about how to write about all of this complexity… bite-sized pieces.
For more information on the Leadership Edmonton Program, and to get involved, visit www.leadershipedmonton.wordpress.com