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Script: Peter Senge speaks about SoL Programs
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Core Ideas: SoL's Foundations for Leadership Program and Leading for Sustainability Workshop

The Foundations for Leadership course and the Leading and Learning for Sustainability programs are the core programs we have done for almost 3 decades. They have been browned over the years. The sustainability focus is relatively new, but there is a core approach to developing people’s capacity as leaders that has been the heart of our work for a very long time. It comes around a couple of simple ideas. One is that human beings have innate leadership capability and all we’ll be doing is to help people discover that. It’s not about techniques and tools in some sense although they’re very practical. It’s really about tapping the leaders within us. It’s really beyond techniques.
To do that, you need to create the environment that is very hands-on, so the workshops are very experiential. Two thirds of the time, you spend in the practices, conversations with each other, looking at the very practical issues, reflecting your own vision, listening to people, and talking to one another about your visions. You'll be looking at the situations and difficult conversations that you might have and the importance of some of the issues getting resolved. Then, (you'll be) reflecting what is about the ways you approach them are causing some of the blockages. And everything you do like that, you are both doing with yourself or to support someone else. So, it’s always about continuous theme of reciprocity.
In a sense, the puzzle is, what is at the heart is that Leadership is in a sense very personal, very individual, and it’s inherently very collective. How do people develop the relational knowledge and confidence together to be effective leaders? The experiential nature of the program is designed around the series of the exercises. They have to do with personal vision, mental model, tools like the ladder of inference, and a lot to do with systems thinking.
Tools for Developing Your Skills and Awareness 

With regards to each of those,
we do not waste lots of time with boring lectures. You might have a 10-minute presentation, and you immediately roll up your sleeve and take the tool to apply it. I’ve always felt that one of the features that distinguishing features of all what we do is the tools. It is very tool-oriented. Since I am originally trained as an engineer, I really believe in tools. But, I really believe that the types of the tools matter. They have to be not only practical but developmental. So, using the tools, you learn about yourself. Like the old joke "You need hammers to build a building, but the hammer also creates carpenters,” in the use of tools you’re developing the skills and awareness, and the ability to pay attention to your own thinking that you would not have developed without that tool.
The Powerful Relationships You Build in SoL Workshops

The quality of the relationships that people start to develop through this is very powerful. In the early days we did this, the more and more we started to discover the basics of creating microcosm, a real learning community. So people go through the program, they learn to really get tangible, emotional, hands-on, feeling what it is like to be in a learning community. More than that, what it takes to create the learning community. I think it’s slightly different, but equally to completely describe all this work is "how do you build rich networks of relationships of trust and mutual learning" because that’s what is robust.

Consultants come and go. Training programs like this only last for a few days. You always have to be asking 'what it is to be endorsed, what it is that can have the aspect of self-sustaining.' That really is when the learning community is built.
 When people leave the workshop, the last part, "Closing”, is always my favorite part. We sit in a circle and say everything they want to say. No prompting whatsoever. Inevitably two-thirds, three-quarters of people thank each other. They say like "Peter, I’m glad we are here,” just like saying "thanks for stopping by” but they thank each other because they have had such a tangible experience of being supported and supporting one another.
Tapping into the Deeper Space where We Can Find Our Biggest Possibilities 

Lastly, all this work is about a deeper space. There is a lot of great stuff about leadership, but it’s really hard to get the sense of the depth of the space that we need to be open in ourselves in order to access this potential leader that’s in all of us. It’s not we are presuming people have never done that. Of course many people who come in here with years of work in developing their own capacity as leaders. But regardless of how much we have done, that’s basically always open to a little bit more.
So in a nutshell, in its essence, the leadership courses are about learning how to access, develop, and cultivate for oneself and others that deep space where we see what’s possible in ourselves and what’s possible one another. So when people leave usually they are quite deeply touched by the experience which goes way beyond the rational understanding, way beyond even sub-superficial emotions, obviously there’s the feeling of connection and listening to one another they’ve really tapped the deep space available for us as human beings. That’s more than anything I love about doing the programs: co-creating the access to the deep space.
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