A Vision of Leadership Development for the 21st Century

One lovely Wednesday morning in February, a group of people, passionate about leadership, gathered together to reflect on current leadership development philosophy and practice, and to imagine what might be different in the future. The forum took place under the banner of “Phronesis” where business education professionals gather to share insights and create space for new ideas to emerge.

Facilitated by Miriam Tassone, co-founder and director of Be Learning, the group was comprised of academics, practitioners and leaders from MGSM, Whyte & Co, Grerashe Consultants, Linkage Management Consultants, The Leadership Practice and Be Learning all working in the field of leadership development, learning, coaching and business administration.

The session began with an examination of what personally interested people to attend the session and what they were passionate about with regards to leadership.

The themes that emerged from the first sharing all spoke to a dissatisfaction with the current state of leadership development, and how there seems to be a gap between what is presumed to be important, and what actually is needed by leaders. People spoke about the passion they had for the relationship between the inner world and the outer expression of leadership, as well as how the journey we take in life, and the people important to us on that journey, was central to their interpretation of leadership.

Professor Richard Badham, Professor of Management at MGSM spoke about his belief that the role of the leader is to affect performance and that there was something about the theatre of leadership that informed his development perspective.

Through a visioning session the group premeditated the future of leadership development in Australia. What would leadership development look like in 5 years’ time? In 10 years’ time?

Breath was taken, minds were cleared and futures were imagined.

Visions were then shared.

A really lively discussion ensued.

In a surprisingly affirming and synchronous validation of Open Progress™ philosophies, many of the visions embraced a future whereby the learner was at the centre of their own development. This was described through expressions such as “a constellation” of learning options and experiences through which the leader can choose their own path and satisfy their own curiosity: digital, face to face, experiences, journeys, and so on.

Ultimately a key theme emerged… understanding the self was crucial to leadership development.

Other discussion points emerged about the next generation, their passions and therefore their possible needs; sustainability, global teams and moral leadership in the post capitalist paradigm.

Not to mention the role of reflection and silence to facilitate decision making and self-management.

The conversation then turned to the immediate future of a leadership forum, based on this first experiment.

In a humourous acknowledgement that many in the room were well into later stages of their lives and from a very particular cultural demographic, it was recognised that younger leaders and representatives from other cultures would be required in the room for future discussions.

The group reflected on what they would want to see happen and committed to a dialogue through which further options could be explored, both in terms of forum structure, as well as content.

It was a truly enjoyable morning.

It’s not often we get the chance to sit in a room of colleagues and discuss higher order concepts, especially with a view to charting a different future. The participants agreed that this was the first step of building trust and group formation was thus underway.

Written by Simon Wood, Principal Consultant at Be Learning.

For more information about Phronesis: http://www.youtube.com/user/PhronesisBERF/videos