The demand for online learning has grown exponentially during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re increasingly seeing a host of new approaches within the field. Now more than ever, there is a need to transform the online learning space in order to cater to the shifting demands brought on by the pandemic.

In 2017, we surveyed over 1,000 young people from across the Commonwealth to better understand their context, their leadership challenges and their aspirations. The result was Open Source Leadership – a new leadership model that equips the next generation with 21st century leadership skills.

 When we launched Commonwealth100 in 2018, we couldn’t anticipate how relevant this new model of online learning would be in our current situation.

The COVID-19 crisis is changing every aspect of our lives – technology, economy, education, as well as our values, thoughts, actions and relationships to one another. We now truly live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world where the status quo is no longer static. So what does it take to be a leader in a world like this?

Aimen Ayaz, a class of 2020 graduate, shares how the programme helped her cope during this global pandemic:

“With the graduation just a few months away, I was anxious that we were soon going to enter a whole new world. Commonwealth100 helped me prepare for what’s to come. The programme teaches you to become more aware and makes you appreciate your own ways, while educating you to be respectful of others too. It is a journey I’m the most thankful for. This leadership programme is what we need during these times, when uncertainty of our future demands us to come together and work for a better-led world.”
Aimen Ayaz – March-April 2020 cohort

A new model of leadership that resonates

The aim of Commonwealth100 is to develop young leaders (aged 18-25) with the skills they will need to lead the Commonwealth in 2049. However, we knew that if the programme was going to resonate with young people who will lead in the future, it couldn’t be based exclusively on leadership models of the past.

Since the programme was co-created by the new generation of leaders across the Commonwealth, it gave them the agency to build a programme that resonated with their ideals and challenges.

Abigail Poluyi says that Commonwealth100 has helped her thrive as a young leader:

“The world is evolving and the more we become enlightened on the fundamentals of true leadership, the better our chances are of thriving. The two components of the program that I have incorporated successfully are interconnected and accessible. I have realized the strength in leveraging on network and external resources in organizing events and executing my projects. Learning about accessibility has made me more confident even in the midst of more experienced colleagues. I am grateful for the experience to thrive and learn with Commonwealth100.”
Abigail Poluyi – January-February 2019 cohort

 A new model of leadership that crosses boundaries 

The power of cross cultural exchange is evident in each CW100 session. It is inspiring to see this play out in an online space, where participants have been generously sharing insights and are learning valuable lessons from the experiences of others.

Ankit Pandey, founder of We, included., shares how the programme gave him a broader perspective when approaching challenges:

“The most important thing that I learnt from CW100 is that in the current world, the problems are not domain-specific, rather they are very much interconnected and complexly interwoven. We need to look at these issues holistically. I was able to realise that this will only be possible if the researchers, policy makers, young entrepreneurs, professionals in development sector and leaders from different domains come forward and collaborate to share and gain from each other's experiences and expertise to address global as well as local problems.”
Ankit Pandey, Founder - We, included, March-April 2020 cohort

A new model of leadership for the next generation to take responsibility for their own future

From the development of the Open Source Leadership model, to the delivery of the programme, a trend we have seen time and time again is that young people genuinely want to take responsibility for what the legacy of their generation will be, and have the desire to bridge divides in the world in order to do this.

Dr. Jacqueline Ngong has this to say about how she was able to led change and create a culture of taking ownership while being a team-player:

“Undertaking open-source leadership was such an illuminating moment for me. As soon as I completed the course, I founded a youth-led organization to advocate for improved adolescent healthcare in my community. As a youth leader, I have been apt to stay connected with youth leaders across Africa and the globe. Within my organization, I strive to create an environment where others can excel. I value the feedback of my colleagues and keep learning how to value the perspectives of others. Being a leader who creates platforms for others to lead is an asset that I learned from this course.”
Dr. Jacqueline Ngong, December 2018 cohort

At Common Purpose, we were keen to get a fresh, modern perspective on what kind of leadership young people will need to develop in order to adapt to the times we’re living in. Commonwealth100 is a cohesive, crowd-sourced leadership model that equips the next generation of leaders with the competencies they need to be successful in this new world.

You can find more information and become an Open Source Leader yourself by visiting the course website here.