A rural CBO in Uganda and an internationally flavored Pan Africanist CSO in Zanzibar discover similar institutional development questions in separate board training interventions.
NGO boards have tended to style their leadership in terms of hierarchical supervision only, rarely providing leadership to create orgarnizational entities that work through common sense of purpose.
In 2016, EASUN trained boards of two CSOs that are quite different in their profiles and outreach activities. Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) received board training in February, and in July of the same year conducted a 3-day board training for RUHEPAI (Rural Health Promotion and Poverty Alleviation Initiative). The latter does its work in Isingiro District in Western Uganda. The training in both ZIFF and RUHEPAI boards enabled participants to experience the need for creating integration and sustainable collaboration in organizational situations.
Mindfulness is a practical leadership skill
In the training process for both ZIFF and RUHEPAI, particular interventions were used that increased consciousness of board members about working with the contribution of others in shared tasks and responsibilities within work place spaces. Elaborating on how they had experienced a walking exercise, for instance, participants in the RUHEPAI training noted that walking in pairs was asking more of them in terms of the need to be aware of the presence of others, compared to when they walked alone. Some phrases used in the reflection included: “be mindful of other’s presence”, “examine patterns and steps”, “regulate oneself” and “walk together”. One board member noted: “Something shifted in me because I opened-up and paid attention as I walked.” In practical terms for organizational contexts, shifts resulting from increased mindfulness were characterized as “making necessary adjustments in behavior in order to increase one’s ability to contribute effectively or provide facilitative leadership in team situations.”
In ZIFF, as well as in RUHEPAI, self-awareness of leaders generated from the walking exercise was strengthened by other learning processes that enhanced emotional intelligence skills, such as listening at three levels, strategic questioning techniques, strengths-based language and power-use effectiveness.