Case Studies at Developing Leadership Capacity Conference 2022

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The Bristol Leadership and Change Centre is hosting the 12th Developing Leadership Capacity Conference (DLCC) on the 12 and 13 July 2022 with some fascinating contributions based around the theme:

‘Leading to Care – Foregrounding Health and Well-being in Leadership Development and Education’.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing some of the abstracts from the contributors to give you an idea of the depth and variety of sessions that are available to attend online over the two-day conference. Register for the free DLCC conference HERE

Case Studies presented from 10:30 – 12:00 on Tuesday 12 July 2022

Leadership Learning and Development for Global Health: A Case Study of Capacity Building in Southern Africa

Authors: Peter Case1, Rudo Chikodzore2, Precious Chitapi1, Amanda Marr Chung3, Jonathan Gosling1, Roly Gosling3,4, Katie Joyce1, Priscilla Mataure5, Greyling Viljoen1

Affiliations: (1) Bristol Leadership & Change Centre, University of the West of England, UK; (2) Ministry of Health and Child Care, Zimbabwe; (3) Institute for Global Health Sciences, University of California San Francisco, USA; (4) Department of Disease Control, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK (5) Women’s University in Africa, Harare, Zimbabwe

For the past eight years, Bristol Leadership & Change Centre (BLCC), UWE, has been collaborating closely with the Malaria Elimination Initiative (MEI) to improve the management and leadership of healthcare programmes in Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and Namibia. Most recently, UWE has been working with MEI (a research centre based at the University of San Francisco, California) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) on a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project aimed at providing better integrated and more sustainable HIV prevention services in Zimbabwe. An integral part of our work in malaria and HIV prevention spaces, has been training programme staff in the use of participatory action research and learning methods, typically with a focus on identifying and addressing operational challenges.  The challenges that inhibit health service delivery can often be addressed by improving communication and coordination, clarifying lines of resourcing and accountability, maintaining motivation, providing adequate training and supervision, and removing bureaucratic silos. The training programmes, which sit alongside our health system change interventions are accredited via a Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership (PPCL) awarded by the University of the West of England. The PPCL module has been delivered successfully in Zimbabwe (2017-18) and Namibia (2019-20) for cohorts of malaria control programme health professionals and, since 2020, UWE has been collaborating with the Women’s University of Africa on a third run of the module for twenty professionals working for the MoHCC in Zimbabwe.

CathArtic spaces: Bringing lived experience into leadership development

Elinor Rebeiro & Chris Hayes, Co-founders of Create Relate Ltd.

“Art is an expression of the human condition. It is a reflection of our memories and experiences, which are more often than not rooted in the world around us.”

(Vijayan et al 2022, p1)

Holding onto pain, grief, trauma is known to have a negative impact on our well-being, both mentally and physically (CIPD 2022, Vijayan et al, 2022). In our ‘private lives’ we are encouraged to open up, to talk to someone, to share how we feel (NHS 2021, Mind). This release of emotions can be known as catharsis (Vogel and Flint, 2021) But how does this play out when we are at work? Our work place is a place where we are meant to bring the best of ourselves, to maintain a control over our emotions continuously. Yet we often spend longer at work than we do at home and the work that we carry out can be emotionally charged with pressure, meeting overload, navigating complex relationships and the pressures to succeed – assuming that you buy into the duality and separation of ones home and work ‘self’. The pressures placed upon people during and following the pandemic have also brought about traumatic experiences.

The exploration of catharsis as a way to access deeply felt experiences is one we have been immersed in for some time. Using cathartic images as a way for people to be able to safely explore how they feel about the lived experience of their work lives is at the heart of this exploration. Understanding the shadows and challenges in our everyday lives offers up the opportunity to make sense of ourselves and each other. Cathartic spaces also allow us to recognise that we are not alone and enable the opportunity to make deeper more relational connections with other people. But, what happens when this learning is used for organisational and leadership development understanding? What happens if Leaders are not provided with the opportunity to also connect deeply to the challenges and shadows of their own experience? When we work within, what Herron calls a “non-cathartic society” (Herron, 1998) we cannot tolerate in others what we cannot tolerate within ourselves. This disconnect between repressed felt experience and the observing of and feeling of others experience can make it too hard to explore, too hard to accept or embrace and can lead to the rejection of this felt experience either in the form of denial of its ‘truth’ or through a recognition of the experiences, followed by a refusal to share back the learning for fear that the content is too sensitive, too raw to be made sense of, or be embraced as learning that could support how leadership happens.

Using organisational examples and drawing on our work creating cathartic spaces within organisations we seek to explore the opportunities, often unappreciated, that this type of space and the learning and understanding that comes from it can bring. We will also highlight common and possibly damaging shadows that come from not taking this learning seriously. As a final point we will explore how cathartic spaces can catalyse a rethink into leadership development in its wider context.

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