Since the first day of work this year, we have been discussing in our different teams what it means for our members to have ownership of the challenges we are working together on. We questioned the value of the tasks we had completed in the name of progress. These activities were listed in our plans as indicators of success but on hindsight, they would be more accurately described as exploratory efforts.
Our teams are organised to achieve specific objectives that arguably are rather abstract. For example, the nurturance of neighbourhoods with a restorative problem solving climate, a culture of employment or widespread family stability and these are aspirations that cannot be achieved unilaterally as the impact of related issues such as the high incarceration of men or under-employment fall on a continuum. Addressing the impact requires the attention of different stakeholders of which, the most important being the people whose well-being are affected. When stakeholders around an issue come together to unpack the complexity of a situation, to learn to co-create or invent in the spirit of experimentation and mutual learning, progress is more likely.
Under the tutelage of Dr Dean Williams, we got together with our peers from the Kampong Kapor and Whampoa Family Service Centres, the Whampoa Constituency Office as well the The Babes Pregnancy Crisis Support Ltd to examine of notion of Collaborative Change Agent Leadership. Dr Williams formerly from the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, defined leadership as an activity that all of us could exercise to improve a situation. A definition that is most apt in our context of journeying with people to confront their challenges.
In my training group, we discussed a concern around sexually active teenagers who expressed a desire for more information. Shortly into the discussion, we realised that mapping out an understanding of their context was a lot of work and there was a tendency to just put forth our personal assumptions about their situation. Our assumptions may be wrong or at best incomplete and as such, certainly not the reliable basis that supports appropriate action.
A reflective conversation to discover the realities of those we endeavour to engage is hard work. However, without an accurate understanding of their reality, we are unlikely to gain their trust or collaboration.
Wishing you good health and peace of mind.
We need a new notion of of what it means to be a real and responsible leader one that does not emphasize the dynamic of leader-follower and goal but the dynamic of leadership-group and reality. – Dean Williams