"I really enjoyed the 4D Model, SOAR and Open Space. These are things I can apply immediately to my work" (participant on Appreciative Leadership Course)
In my March 10 2020 Blog, I presented an overview of the Erasmus Plus funded KA1 programme, the Sankofa Intergenerational Learning Hub project, which has now ended. Over the 17 months the project worked with 110 participants from 47 organisations from across the UK. The programme consisted of:
- 4 x 6 days courses based in Athens, Greece:
- Appreciative Leadership
- The Art of Hosting
- Action Learning
- Systemic Constellations and Systems Thinking
- 1 x 6 days course based in Amsterdam, Holland:
- Black Europe
We wanted to really get an insight into the medium to longer term impact of the courses on participants and so we built into the impact evaluation process two approaches to help us gauge this. The first approach was for participants on each course to write a blog or produce a Vlog on their experience post programme; and the second approach was a cross section sample with structured interviews three to six months after their course had ended. This blog presents the reflections captured by one of the participants on the first course: Appreciative Leadership Course. 
What we found through the blogs and interviews was that adult education learning through informal learning processes provides opportunities to learn at levels the course objectives and content cannot legislate for. While it is commonplace to ‘assess’ (or test) aspects of specific course content (i.e. the acquisition of certain knowledge or processes) it is often not the case to ‘assess impact’ or impact the course has had in ways other than just measuring the acquisition and the transmission of certain knowledge and concepts. The blogs and interviews open up about learning that is meaningful to the individual often at levels that could hasten other learning and, for those involved in social action, sharpens insights that can facilitate action.
The Appreciative Leadership Course
Traditional leadership, on the whole, tends to focus on problems. Appreciative Leadership, on the other hand, focuses on the potential in an effort to improve organisations (and individuals) by finding out what is working well. The course sought to get the best out of people who were engaged in a system or a situation. Participants were introduced to tools and underpinning concepts that encouraged reflections and the application of those tools to real-life cases from participants' everyday work experiences.
What I learned about mentorship during the Sankofa Leadership Training by Laurentine Amaliza
I came into the Sankofa Intergenerational Learning Hub’s Appreciative Leadership Training in Athens with an open-mind. This was not the first time I participated in a course run by Ubele, so I knew what to expect from the organisation and felt confident that I would learn a lot, would be in a group of like-minded people and enjoy deep meaningful conversations. One word stayed with me throughout the week: “mentorship”.
During the informal opportunities that were present throughout the 6 days of the course, I sought to find out who amongst the participants had been or was a mentor and/or mentee. I asked colleagues expecting them to say that they’d been either a mentor or had been a mentee and for them to tell me how it had been the steppingstone for them becoming the confident, successful and committed people they were.
Their answers surprised me. Contrary to what I thought, mentorship had not been an integral part of their success story and, where it had been, it hadn’t always been positive or impactful. Following discussions, three key messages emerged:
- Mentoring can be formal or informal, but either way, make sure your mentor is someone who can understand your issues and vision;
- Choose your mentor by asking the right questions: “how can they help you achieve your goal?” Liking or admiring them is not a good enough reason to choose someone as your mentor;
- If it doesn’t fit, just quit! Don’t waste any time. If it’s not a match, you don’t have to feel obligated to continue.
After a few days of being surrounded by exceptionally driven, humble, passionate and open-minded women and men, I realised that what had truly resonated with me - that was so new to me – was Community. Knowing that however different and inadequate I may have felt at times, I would always belong, because I was present; I was showing up to contribute to society as they all were and that was enough.
When I realised this, I could then open up to receive the lessons from my fellow participants; I would be in a position to receive knowledge, from the youngest to the eldest on the course. As I write, I am still processing some of the learning but what has stayed with me thus far (one month after the course), is that my fellow trainees gifted me with the following take-away gems of wisdom:
Don’t ask for permission.
Just do it!
Be you, unapologetically.
No matter who you are, you have something to contribute.
I’m very grateful to have been a part of this brilliant group and can’t wait to see the amazing projects that come out of this training.
This article was produced as a result of the “Sankofa Intergenerational Learning Hub”, implemented by The Ubele Initiative (Ubele) and co-financed by the European Union Erasmus + Action 1. Educational Mobility, Mobility of Adult Education Staff (Agreement number 2018-1-UK01-KA104-047395).
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
About the author
Karl Murray, Senior Associate, The Ubele Initiative
With Ubele, he has been involved, in the main, with the monitoring and evaluation of projects, some of which can be found on the Ubele website; and more widely outside Ubele, he is currently working with a number of national sporting bodies based in the USA and the Caribbean looking at effective governance, development of national coaching awards programmes and strategic planning.
Prior to his involvement with Ubele, Karl was a lecturer, facilitator and strategic and policy officer within the field of community education and learning for close on 3 decades. For five years he was an Ofsted Additional Inspector within the Post-Compulsory and Adult Education Division, where he was involved with local authority youth service inspections and FE College inspections.
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