This document is provided as a brief overview to increase your understanding of the structure and purpose of the ALF program sessions. The strength of the program is in its ability to change and meet the needs of each class and to accommodate specific interest explorations. As your class develops facilitators will work with the class to make adjustments and changes. Constant in the monthly sessions is a combination of exploring pertinent leadership concepts, dialogue, the application of new learning in the Class setting and discussion of leadership challenges in service to one’s organization and the community.
The program flows through three phases, each with a focus on one of the three pillars: Connect, Inspire, Transform.
Diverse groups need to build a quality of safety that allows full participation and explicit inclusion. As leaders, we are responsible for creating the kind of psychological safety that allows for diversity, creativity, and change. During this session, we will orient you to the program, to the flow of the program, and the group will begin to engage in a conversation toward creating a strong container for learning with diversity.
This session proposes that with any effort to create change, a leader often faces challenges of personal change. In this session, we will explore the concept of self as an agent of change and how our patterns of thought influence our capacity to be open to diverse others and how we learn. Leaders seldom take time to explore their own patterns of thought and how those patterns dictate how we see, experience, and create the outer world. Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This implies that a rigorous understanding of our being should accompany our actions and our doing.
We build insight, meaning, and shared commitments to action, through the work of dialogue and deliberations. During this session, we will explore a model of conversation, ask you to consider your own patterns of how you participate in conversation, and explore how one can develop new competencies in building effective dialogue.
The Wilderness Experience is a six-day and five-night community building experience and is a pivotal and core component of the program. The Wilderness is both a group and individual experience. As an individual, you will have space and time to contemplate your practice of leadership. In a group, you will have the opportunity to create community in very intentional ways. Challenges can be physical and psychological moving most Fellows outside a “comfort zone” where we become open to learning new ways of being and doing. The Wilderness Experience often becomes the anchor for building a class into a cohesive community.
The focus of learning for this experience includes:
In this session, we will take a deeper dive into patterns of bias and how they are experienced in our work and community. We will build on our understanding of personal bias and explore how bias builds and is sustained in social systems. Rather than trying to fix bias, we want to become very deeply able to generate understanding and insight into dynamics of unconscious bias and be aware how to use this understanding to transform our patterns of thought.
Every community is challenged to renew itself in the light of complexity and diversity. Initially, we experience our differences in relationship to race, gender, religion, age and sexual orientation, yet our differences are often experienced in other ways. Communities are desperate for skilled leaders who know how to come together in a way that makes the entire room smarter than any one person. This requires pushing through polite conversation in order to get beyond status quo and arrive at a new understanding of issues that can allow for more comprehensive and creative solutions. We will consider how to create the capacity to disagree and remain in community together while have candor and critical conversations.
In this session, we will contrast strategic change with emergent change and consider how adaptation and disruption are an integral part of leading change. The class will explore various examples of emergent change and explore the dynamics of culture and why leaders often discover that “culture eats strategy for lunch.”
In this session, we explore the personal and collective dynamics of networks and the role networks play in change efforts. We will provide you with models to help you assess your personal preferences and opportunities for growth in how you participate in networks. We will explore a model for how to assess the unfolding dynamics of networks in change efforts and how leaders must leverage network dynamics in their change efforts.
These two days are a time to reflect on our progress as a class and our individual leadership journeys. At the Taking Stock retreat, we will move toward a deeper investigation of each person’s challenges and opportunities with anticipation of where you would like to be in the future and how your ALF class might become part of your journey. We will provide you with a model for how to assess and coach each other in personal challenges of change.
How can the network of ALF advance your work in the community? How can your participation help others? How can the class leverage its collective capacity to serve? These will be the questions explored by the class as individuals highlight ways that they are already engaging the ALF network and ponder how ALF Fellows engage the work of community change. The class will explore its values and a sense of collective action that will carry it beyond commencement. The class will also take the lead in designing the March session.
The focus of learning for this session includes:
How am I participating as citizen and leader in this class? How are we moving ahead? What are we building together and how can we build it better? These will be the reflective questions as the class, now fully exploring its sense of purposeful action, continues to learn from reflection about how to expand upon new thinking and develop action.
The focus of learning for this session includes:
Commencement is a celebration of the class’ history together and a bold look forward exploring the possibilities present in active and continual involvement with ALF as a Senior Fellow. Fellows will present to one another their commitment to civic engagement and how they plan to build on their ALF experience. Later, spouses, partners and Senior Fellows join us in celebration of the class’ accomplishments.
The anticipated outcomes for this session include: