In the past few weeks, I have been fortunate to be part of diverse teams in Common Purpose delivering programmes for emerging and senior leaders as well as young leaders. From CSCLeaders and Syrian Diaspora Leaders Programme to the Global Leader Experience (GLE) in Abuja, the programmes not only provided an insight into what leadership means to our participants  but also gave me an opportunity to interact with diverse groups from different geographies, generations, backgrounds and beliefs.

The common thread of all the programmes is Cultural Intelligence (CQ):  the ability to cross boundaries and thrive in multiple cultures. Each programme created an environment wherein decision makers and young leaders alike either developed or reflected on their CQ.

CSCLeaders brought together an incredible group of leaders from a wide range of sectors and industries - representing 24 Commonwealth countries. The leaders were challenged to explore how we can future-proof our cities to ensure we meet the energy demands of growing populations and economies. The first part of the programme in London exposed the senior leaders to high-level briefings, visionary speakers and study tours to investigate and develop ideas to address the challenge. It was interesting to see how our participants perceived leadership prior to exploring CQ, but in some cases, changing their views on the subject towards the end of the programme. Senior leaders spoke at length about their leadership journeys which was very interesting as it gave me a peek into their varied leadership styles and approaches -  and particularly how the programme challenged their existing ideas. These stories proved to be a revelation for me, exposing me to a set of senior leaders who were very honest about their opinions on their leadership styles and approaches, and particularly how the programme challenged their existing ideas.

Intriguingly, the Syrian Diaspora leaders programme in London, addressed an issue perhaps largely untouched on a formal platform. It was exciting to see how the programme aimed to build the capacity of Syrian Diaspora leaders to contribute to Syria,  and the diaspora community at large.  Having had an opportunity to speak to several participants who shared some traumatic experiences it was heartening to see all were hopeful of addressing various challenges Syria is battling with. It was rewarding for the CP international team - who spent years planning the programme – to know that our platform enabled participants to connect better and widen the Syrian network.  

While delivering programmes in London, my team effectively delivered a programme in Nigeria as well. The GLE in Abuja proved to be a cultural exploration for me. Having worked in challenging environments for over seven years in India, I assumed Nigeria would not throw any surprises. Perhaps, I underestimated the size of the challenge ahead of me, but with the support of brilliant teams in Cape Town, London and India, we successfully pulled off a  programme that received 100% score in terms of value for time for the students. I was delighted to learn that most of the students were very inspired by the range of speakers from different sectors in the programme. The students are now on their way to implementing their project ideas towards greater  civic engagement in Abuja.

It is indeed rewarding to be a part of an organization which creates a tangible impact by delivering leadership development programmes across the globe. It is even more fascinating to experience how the idea of CQ resonates - albeit differently - with almost all the individuals in the programme. I’ve seen how it drives people  to think beyond their comfort zones and puts them in a milieu, they don’t often find themselves in. The ultimate reward is to see diverse groups working with each other for a better tomorrow.