Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Second day of the Workshop

During our second day, we explored King Richard III's monologue, 'Not all the waters in the rough sea....' And examined what it means to be a leader who believes he or she has been 'elected by the Lord' and is not accountable to his or her constituents. The students related this speach and this king to the leaders within South Africa and developed the idea that, although not necessarily elected by God, many think that they have no mandate to the electors and just strive to be in a position of power and have been put there by people who have not been elected. 

The students also examined an inerview with Andrew MLENGENI whom I interviewed in 2008.  He discussed his interest in the speech, 'uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.'  Andrew interpreted it as the unease that is felt by a leader who has gotten to power through illegal or unscruplious means. The students agreed but also reasoned that a leader might not be able to sleep because he or she is worried about his or her constituents. Asked to examine leadership on a personal, local and national level, the conclusion was that many leaders tend to be the former rather than the latter with them loosing sleep, as Andrew suggests, because they are alwYs looking behind them to see 'who is coming up behind me.'  

The students have also been looking at basic presentation / performance skills such as articulation and projection. There was a heated discussion around whether or not to be a good leader one needed these skills. I suggested that in the 21st century where we are surrounded by multimedia, it is necessary for a leader to be able to verbally communicate. This has been necessary since the dawn or radio and television and is now more importance because of 24 hour news and the internet. People who lookup you to lead much be able to understand what it is you are saying. Yes, the content is very important, but it must be understood.  it can't be, as a Shakespeare says, merely a'sawing of the arms' or 'tearing passions to tatters' without being understood. It should be, again as Shakespeare suggests, 'a temperance that gives it smoothness.'  

This is proving difficult for these confident students to make eye contact and to be heard and understood.   There is a gentle prodding that is needed to remind them that they aren't just speaking to me, but rather to all of the other leaders as we sit in a circle.  This is very different to the school conditions that many of these (and other students) face.  I am asking them to take responsibility to be heard and understood. We are working in a non hierarchical fashion which basic facilitation skills insist on. This way of working is often very difficult to break into because of how students are taught in the classroom. 

And the gender issue seems to rear it's ugly head everyday as well. There is often a defference to the make students when it come to making suggestions as well as taking the leadin the various projects that are worked on. As an outsider, I try to gently ask them to obsve this behaviour to see if it can be rebalanced. It is observed and commented upon, redressed but it never lasts long. 

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