KLI Presents (and Attends) Experiential Workshops at ILA Global Conference
By Jeremy Anderson ’19
Earlier this fall, KLI’s Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Neela Rajendra, accompanied by other KLI staff and faculty presented research at the 17th Annual International Leadership Association (ILA) Global Conference. ILA, founded in 1999, is a global network for those who study, teach, and practice leadership. Their mission is to promote “a deeper understanding of leadership knowledge and practices for the greater good of individuals and communities worldwide.” Each fall, ILA hosts students, scholars, and professionals from around the world at this global conference to discuss different topics of leadership. The 2015 conference, whose theme was “Leading Across Borders and Generations,” was held October 14th-17th in Barcelona, Spain.
In their presentation entitled “Partnering Across Borders: Frameworks, Challenges, and Competencies,” Neela, along with Sara Thompson (KLI Director of Leadership Programs), Jonathan Gosling (University of Exeter Professor), and Karan Saggi ‘14 discussed the borders and barriers that entities must cross in order to create authentic partnerships. Participants examined case studies of cross-sector partnerships to better understand the necessity for partnerships in the field of social entrepreneurship. Neela stated that she wanted the participants to think about the partnership issue and utilized an experiential learning format to achieve this. This format enabled collaborative problem solving and provided practice of leadership competencies vital in forming successful partnerships. After a brief introduction participants participated in an activity on the “Friendly Consulting Model.” This model was specially created for collaborative learning and exploration through presentations, questions, and feedback. Neela, Sara, Jonathan, and Karan assigned participants a significant challenge for which he or she was made responsible. Navigating the challenge required contributions of knowledge, insight, and experience from participants who rotated between three roles. The “Chairperson/Interviewer” kept time, managed group dynamics and interactions, and served as a mediator between “Presenters,” who presented their issue, and “Observers,” who discussed and proposed new associations and insights. After debriefing, the presenters gave participants a case problem, divided them into groups, and asked them to come up with explanations and possible leadership related solutions.
Aside from presenting, Neela had the opportunity to attend several conference workshops. Her favorite workshop was “Leadership Development, the Arts, and Choral Conducting: Theory, Practice, and Experience.” This workshop explored the role of arts in leadership development and had participants experience leadership through conducting a choir in real time. Reflective of her artistic background (she majored in music as an undergraduate), Neela sees art as a terrific medium for learning about leadership because it creates a platform for experimentation. “There is a perception that leadership is about business and nothing else,” she said. The workshop did not merely deliver theory but asked for volunteers to conduct a live performing ensemble. Unsurprisingly, Neela volunteered. Through this exercise the workshop facilitators assisted Neela with an analysis of her leadership skills and aided her in developing her ability to form connections. Neela hopes to introduce this type of non-conventional approach to leadership and the arts to KLI and CMC.