Learning to Lead

The thought revolution of the twenty-first century ushered in an ambitious new goal: a global caring, sharing, circular, sustainable economy.

To reach it, communities around the world have been experimenting with different models, building collaborative networks, learning from one another.

The common denominator: service-driven leadership. Krish Raval and Denny Braggins have tapped into that need. For years, they have been offering high level training to young and old leaders from different communities.

What is Learn to Lead?

It is a network of leaders putting their minds and resources together to guide their communities toward more caring and sharing models of governance.

We are “a national educational organisation where a broad range of community leaders impart their knowledge to university students who in turn pass on their new-found skills to younger teenagers, including those who have dropped out of the education system altogether. The aim is community transformation through the development of leadership in young people.”

 

How did this project come to be?

 

Krish: I came to the United Kingdom when I was six years old, an Ethiopian-born Indian. I was part of a minority, at the bottom of my class, in an inner-city London school. No one thought I would amount to much, till at 16 I met my mentor.

That relationship gave me much confidence in myself. As a result of it, I became involved with the community at my temple. There, I also witnessed the detrimental effects of the clashes between its members and the surrounding community. Religious and cultural differences were being used as tools to divide society, rather than enriching assets that would help it progress.

My mentorship experience also highlighted the importance of leadership skills to me … and that I did not have them! They were not being taught in schools and universities, but they were essential; without them, no movement could succeed.

So, in 1996, I launched a leadership training programme for young people and called it Learn to Lead (L2L). That is where Denny and I met.

Denny: I grew up in a mixed-race family; my sister is adopted and part Jamaican. I therefore never experienced the divisive impact of racial and religious difference. However, after leaving the UK at seventeen, and returning years later, I was struck by how abnormally uniform my society was; everybody looked alike and thought alike. Innovation and diversity were frowned upon.

I joined L2L because I wanted a world in which people were doing things they were passionate about and were using their skills to make to make societies better. For that, leadership is key and different leaders need to communicate. Recently, terrorism, populism, and xenophobia have all made these needs more pertinent.

 

What questions does L2L seek to answer?

 

What does leadership really mean?

What is it important?

What role can it play in a globalized and multi-faith world?

 

What role can leadership play in a globalized world?

 

Money is a driving force in any society. It is a tool, and like any other, it can be used for self-interested purposes or it can be harnessed toward the common good.

With the right leadership, money does not have to be evil or bad. Take the example of Singapore compared to the countries that surround it:

In Singapore, people are paid high salaries and told that so long as they do their job well, their needs will be met. By freeing them of this worry, leaders can direct the focus of the population toward its own improvement.

In comparison, in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, people are solely focused on self-enrichment because their leadership does not offer any help toward ensuring their survival. It is therefore no wonder that these communities cannot collaborate and progress.

You mentioned faith. What about it?

 

We live in a plural world and more than half of it is religious. It is therefore difficult to ignore faith as a factor intrinsic to so many identities.

For a society to be truly and successfully plural, it is important to recognize faith as an integral part of it. Like money, faith is a driving force in our societies, and faith communities are a power to be harnessed if they can be brought together, not to challenge one another, but to collaborate.

Hence, your follow up programme: Faith in Leadership.

 

Exactly. We realized that faith leaders lack proper channels of communication and collaboration, and that this comes at a great cost. If leaders cannot learn from one another, they cannot be part of the same journey.

How does Faith in Leadership address this?

 

We work across denominations and faiths, recognizing great leaders within the different traditions and bringing them together within a leadership context. We try to identify people who have a service-driven instinct to improve the lives of others and give them the knowledge and skills they need to better serve their communities and the world.

Areas of learning range from ‘How I live my faith’ and ‘Religion as a dimension of statecraft’ to ‘Understanding group dynamics’ and ‘Effective communication’.

In the greater scheme of things, do you believe that leadership programmes can really lead to community transformation?

 

We believe community transformation cannot happen any other way. It is only when people experience positive inner change that they are truly motivated and mobilized to adopt new lifestyles and paradigms as a group.  Those, in turn, are what shapes the world.

Want to know more?

Listen to Krish and Denny in the “Faith and Leadership. And Money.” Pod of Gold Podcast Episode O6 in July 2019:  https://www.polymoney.org/pod-of-gold/