I was lucky enough to be one of our team of action learning facilitators who supported the Atlantic Institute weekend event on 24th and 25th March.
These programmes together are building a global community to create a fairer more equitable world. There are programmes for racial equity, for brain health equity and for social and economic equity. The weekend brought together fellows from 4 of these programmes globally to build a community and learn and share together to make their programmes more impactful.
There were about 100 fellows present, and the most moving opening welcome by the South Africans, set the scene for what was to be a truly inspirational weekend. They sang us a native welcome and really held the space, with many of us moved to tears to witness these rousing songs – with strong voices and real passion.
The Aboriginal people also offered a traditional welcome. I learned that there are 300 different Aboriginal peoples and through their struggle the 3% of the population they comprise, own 50% of the land. Their traditional welcome to a place would involve smoking out of the old spirits to welcome in new ones. This was not possible in the hallowed halls of Oxford, but the stories and songs gave us a better glimpse of their culture.
Alternative leadership traits
The welcomes addressed the value of the heart and soul in a leadership model and challenged the pervasive value of leaders being the most dominant, strident and directive. They talked of leaders finding their whole selves in their personal leadership journey.
The role of action learning
Our role there was to facilitate small groups, to take participants through the beginnings of action learning sets to create a safe environment in which people could get to know each other at a deeper level. By building trust, we were able to create the space for support and challenge so the groups could explore creative approaches to issues they had. The hugely full agenda only allowed for a starter here – but the bonds built in the small groups went way beyond their own fellowship programmes and laid the seeds of a global learning community.