A Leadership Challenge for The Leadership Challenge
12/12/2014 12:00 AM ,
It’s not very often in life you get to face your leadership challenge teaching The Leadership Challenge. My recent training session in Beijing, China, was exactly just that. A leadership challenge. My biggest one yet.
What was planned as a training session for the inaugural batch of Student Leadership Challenge Facilitators in English turned out to be a four-day session taught in Mandarin. From an initial class size of 13 educators, we ended up with a class size of 25, the majority of whom were non-English speakers.
What made it even more interesting was the change was made the night before over a customary welcome dinner by the host. Hence what was already a scary thought of teaching in China, soon became a challenge unlike many I’ve encountered.
To put things in perspective, I am a Singaporean. English is my first language. It is the language I speak at home, in school, in business, and it is the language of our parliament and everything else Singaporean. At the same time, I am a Chinese by race. Which means that I should know Mandarin. I’ve learned it in school but don’t usually use it. Let alone teach.
But there we were, on what was a gorgeous blue-sky day in August (I mention this because it is a rarity to get blue-sky days in Beijing), with all 25 participants assembled in the training room of host partner China Youth and Children Research Centre (CYCRC).
Representatives from Wiley, Publishing House of Electronics Industry (PHEI), and CYCRC made their formal introductions and spoke words of welcome and thanks. For me, it seemed all too short a time as after the formalities, it was down to me.
To be perfectly honest, it was one of the scariest things I’ve done (apart from finding myself reluctantly on a roller-coaster with a girl I was trying to impress), but also one of the most fulfilling things I’ve managed to do.
The first two days was the classic Leadership Challenge Workshop where we brought the participants through The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership and shared tales of conquest and stories from Chinese history. Quotes we typically used from the West soon gave way to sayings of Confucius and Chinese idioms whose brevity and wisdom I’ve learned to appreciate.
The next two days, we started on our very first Student Leadership Challenge Certified Facilitators Workshop in China. It was truly a privilege to be making history with a bunch of educators and facilitators who are not only sincere in heart, but also wonderful in spirit. We revisited the Leadership Challenge content and guided them through the whole certification process where they presented, with gusto and fervor, their lesson plans for each practice.
In all, six soon-to-be certified Student Leadership Challenge facilitators presented and we were not only impressed by their grasp of the content, but the heart they put into their preparation and the delivery of the program.
It was after all about The Leadership Challenge. I’ve now checked one more box on my list of challenges. More importantly, we now potentially have a couple of certified Student Leadership Challenge facilitators who will take this wonderful program back to their schools and education system to raise a new generation of young leaders who will in time seek to master the art of mobilizing others to want to struggle for shared aspiration.
That is why we are doing what we are doing, aren’t we? We face our own
leadership challenge so that the next generation can face theirs and together,
we can make, however big or small, a difference in the societies we are in.
Martin Tan is the executive director of the Institute for Societal Leadership.
Category: Success Stories