SHOWCASE September 16, 2016

The Power to Empower Others

palitha-picPalitha Vijayabandara, a community advocate from Sri Lanka, is one of many emerging leaders participating in APCOM’s “Developing Effective Leaders Resulting to Good Governance” workshop,  that was supported by UNDP through the Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV Programme. The below write-up is his reflection on what he has learnt from the workshop.

I have seen, conducted and experienced many workshops at a country level, but I can whole-heartedly say this was one of the most unique and fulfilling experiences in my life. I was enamored by the event from the point of conception itself, however, the use of distinctive methodologies and techniques created a platform where I felt comfortable enough to freely express my opinion and grow in a progressive manner while assimilating into the program. This feedback although concisely written by no means capture the comprehensiveness of the workshop as a whole, and I extend my sincere appreciation to the organizers – on behalf of my community, team, and country – for providing us with this inimitable opportunity.

The workshop began before we event went to the course as our opinions were gathered via an informative survey – this is certainly a technique I too will implement prior to conducting my own programs – which allowed for much more focused information delivery. Similarly, the workshop was a success from the minute we walked in – tables filled with various colored contraptions, sweets and arm bands all ended up being good conversation starters and put us all at ease. This colorful environment was also very educational with plenty of information readily available for visual display, however, what really caught my attention was the teaching methodologies itself. The number of activities was truly mind-engaging and allowed us to dwell into all topics, I realized how important it was for me to learn the implantation process of second-line leadership, how personality affects crisis responses, communication methods – individually, to groups, country-wise and on a global scale.

Moreover, we were taught the guideline on power itself and how its applicability differed from one local context to another. I truly valued the concept of the High-five buddy, wherein, I was constantly engaged in conversation with a likeminded individual and we had the opportunity to brainstorm on the advantages or disadvantages of each concept. In fact, the level of thought put into engaging intellectual conversation was truly amazing, and I found that even during dinner the informal environment – free of facilitators but laden with food and drinks – allowed an easy conversation flow, wherein we discussed the various legal differences faced by minority communities in different countries. For instance: it was surprising to realize that in Pakistan lesbians faced greater discrimination.

Furthermore, the activities themselves were well thought of and pictogram based tasks (like the waterfall) really helped integrating the concepts into our minds. Additionally, they also empowered team spirits, coordination and a keen sense of solidarity among all the participants. Moreover, I learnt very important personal skills like the art of noticing behaviors, mind-relaxation techniques and various forms of conflict management that can be applied at local levels. Similarly, the significance of strategic planning (5 C’s) and planning sheets – aligning resources with organizational goals – allowed easy identification of indicators for measurement. This was really important for us for long-term planning and learning to give and receive instructions in a team demonstrated the importance of collaborative efforts.

A key concept I learnt was the importance of delegation – why should we share power? This was a concept that affected me a lot personally as I usually do not delegate enough. The depth of introspection this made me undergo truly gave me unique insight onto my own leadership style, and I realized how ego and trust go hand-in-hand with delegation and towards the development of second-line leadership which leads to sustainability. For me personally, I learnt a lot and I know that this information will not end with me, my colleague and I will conduct a national level session to impart this knowledge because what we learnt does not just affect our leadership styles but it illustrated the significance of fostering leaders and creating environments where we all flourish.