Are you a culturally aware leader?
Updated: Aug 22, 2021
Elnor's Corner is very proud to support the Common Purpose organisation. Leadership development that is uniquely community focused. Once you have completed a common purpose leadership development programme your outlook is going to change.
What did it do for me? Well, I completed the Common Purpose Meridian Programme in 2013. When I first saw the literature I wasn't sure, but a really good friend of mine said that she'd wanted to do it for years but never had the chance and convinced me that it would be a good experience. So I signed up.
The first session was, for me, like entering a parallel universe. I remember it well - it was a really hot day, we were sitting in a building reclaimed by the People Republic of Stokes Croft and loads of people seemed to know each other. If I'm honest I felt a bit intimidated. I have had many a cause to reflect on that which is how I learned more and more about myself, the people I now call friends and the city I love. We did some amazing things, we started to ask questions about what we really believed and what our values were. We met up in each other's organisations, a combination of charities, commercial and public sector organisations all working on each other's problems and seeking out ideas together. Fundamentally it's about learning and being confident enough to see and experience things from other points of reference.
One of the most amazing experiences was visiting the Sewage Treatment Works in the North of Bristol where we learned about how to take an organisation that was perceived as dirty and possibly polluting, into one that was carbon negative, environmentally world-class in terms of its positive impact. One thing for sure - if it ever breaks down we're definitely in the poop! But what about the people that run this place? They were proud of what they were doing - a social cause as well as a commercial organisation.
Definitely the most amazing experience was going to Paul's Place, a charity run by Kath who is one of the most incredible and humble people I have ever met, but don't get in her way if she is doing everything she can to support one of her people. This is when I learned a little bit about physical disability and the experiences of people who need support from charities like Paul's Place. Being disabled is not the same as having an impairment that stops you from engaging in a disabling environment. Being disabled, is literally that you are being disabled by the people and environment around you. What we should be talking about is how we enable everyone to partake as fully and wholly as they can in every aspect of our world.
Now when I went into the programme, I was not expecting to learn about stuff like this - I had a preconceived idea about what leadership development was, mostly stuffy classroom-based learning about culture, leadership qualities and all that. I did learn a lot about that, but the deeply moving, enriching and engaging experiences on my journey through common purpose were more unsettling and positive than I could have ever believed and I really would recommend it to you.
Work to understand yourself first, that will take time and bravery to look into the places you'd rather not - a fantastic coach will help and support you with that. But if you don't and you climb that slope of leadership without the knowledge of you, then all the equipment in the world is very unlikely to save you if you get stuck, which from time to time you will.
I hope you are a little bit intrigued and I'd love to hear your thoughts.