Creative Leadership – Together for Change

9 - 15 July 2020

CL 2020 piano at the opening


The Creative Leadership conference took participants on a six-day journey of personal inquiry to discover what creative leadership is and what kind of leaders they are. More than 120 passionate changemakers joined the adventure, where they were inspired by impactful stories and given the space to create a strong virtual community.

Creative Leadership is a new initiative launched by alumni of the Caux Peace and Leadership Programme (CPLP) and their first venture involved the major challenge of bringing the conference online. The young team, clearly well-versed in technology, managed to offer participants an experience that was deep and powerful. They created a safe space for sharing and bonding during dialogue groups and tea times, led participants on the path of self-reflection in quiet times and invited social entrepreneurs who are making a difference in the world to teach them about leadership through human libraries and webinar sessions. They even accommodated time differences by offering two programmes, in the ‘morning’ and ‘afternoon’. Participants showed their gratitude to the organizing team during the closing session and expressed their desire to stay connected and to support each other as they step further into creative leadership.



Creating a space for change

The conference started by opening a safe space for sharing, so as to create a community and allow participants to feel secure enough to explore how they could bring change into their lives.

The first keynote speaker, Maria Paula Garcia Romero, explained how after participating in the CPLP, she wanted to do something for her community and became a social entrepreneur. She started the Suuralairua Library programme, which aims at empowering isolated indigenous communities in Colombia by providing them with a library and enabling them to teach each other how to read and write down their own ancestral stories. Starting from this experience, she explained how the leadership model of any enterprise needs to be customized to the project and to the community involved. In fact, she said, ‘the communities need to be involved in the creation of the project’, so as to ensure that it serves them and respects their identity.



Leadership from the self

Through the quiet times, human libraries and dialogue groups, participants grew in their understanding of it means to lead from the self. One of the most powerful sessions of the conference was led by four life travellers, who introduced the concept of spiritual politics, encouraged leadership through example and service and generated the atmosphere for mindfulness. Rodrigo Martínez Romero, Harmen van Dijk, Pepe García and Lázaro Valiente allowed participants to reflect on their own purpose and cultural heritage, and inspired creativity to unite their separate worlds.



Who we are is how we lead

The first webinar on this theme was led by Sonita Mbah from Cameroon, who delved into the connection between culture, identity and leadership and shared practical tools. Sonita has dedicated more than seven years to building the Better World Cameroon non-profit and the Bafut ecovillage. She is now the Executive Secretary of GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) Africa. She also received the Gender Just Climate Solutions Award from Women and Gender Constituency in 2017.



She stated that her connection to her roots, culture and environment is the basis of her leadership. ‘Whatever has come out which is good has come out from a place where I am grounded in my culture,’ she said. This isn’t without its challenges. Her culture also implies trauma from colonization which needs to be healed, and she has had to fight against sexist cultural norms. The work and difficulties are sometimes overwhelming, but her practice of meditation and journaling keeps her centred, while her vision for a better world keeps her inspired.

Who you are is how you will lead, but also how you live and how you will die.

Jin In

Jin In, founder of 4 Girls GLocal Leadership, returned to the theme in the fourth webinar of the conference, where she spoke of igniting the fuel in youth to turn their words into action. She shared her personal story of empowerment, and how she got to be the leader she is now. She encouraged participants to build their courage, hope, focus and unity.



The power of our network

The final webinar was given by Tony Sakr, a senior transportation engineer who created a crowd-sourced campaign to support young people affected by the ongoing crisis in Syria. ‘Success is a team sport,’ he said, explaining that networking is an important component of success, because we cannot do everything on our own. At the heart of a powerful network is trust, since we cannot collaborate with others without trusting them. For that, accountability is vital: he advised participants to always fulfill their promises. Successful networks are also based on reciprocity. We have to see what we bring to the table. Most important, a successful networker remains humble and listens, because there is always something to learn!



Many other inspiring young leaders shared their stories during the human libraries. ‘Books’ included Maria del Pilar Aristizabal, founder of Life Academy, a social enterprise which delivers leadership workshops in Columbia; Anubha Sharma, a senior analyst who builds gender-inclusive business strategies across the value chains of small and medium enterprises in India; and Ary Marrufo, a fashion designer who seeks to preserve culture, support artisans and create awareness of their potential to create a different future in Mexico.

As the conference was closing, participants shared how the dialogue groups had given them a sense family and support and how excited they were to be part of this journey.

We are impatient to discover what all these leaders will bring forth in the world!




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