On Being a Leader: A Leadership 2020 Update

This week’s Federation update is coming to you from our Director of Programs and Services, Rebecca Ataya-Lang, who is overseeing the Leadership 2020 program.

A simple but powerful question

Those of you who are history buffs will know that Helen of Troy was famously described by the playwright and poet Christopher Marlowe as the face that launched a thousand ships. As the story goes, she was so beautiful that, after she was abducted by a Trojan prince named Paris, a fleet of a thousand ships set sail to win her back thus sparking the Trojan Wars. It’s one of the most lovely and famous lines in English literature.

Now if that seems like an odd way to begin an organizational update, that’s probably because it is. But I bring it up because there is currently a post-it note on the wall of The Federation’s conference room that describes the origin story of Leadership 2020 with a similar (but far less poetic) turn of phrase: the question that launched a thousand leaders.

That post-it note and the dozens and dozens surrounding it are the results of a recent Leadership 2020 planning day. The hosting team and a number of Federation staff mapped out the past, present, and future of the program. Our goal was to take stock of where we’ve come from, to check in about where we are, and to chart a path toward the future that we want (and need).

And at the centre is the question that started it all: What kind of leadership is called for in these times?

As the story goes, the question was so beautiful that The Federation spent two years connecting with experts and thinkers from around the world, talking with aspiring and current leaders, and reading mountains of literature on leadership development in search of an answer. Those efforts helped identify the attributes and approaches that are needed in order to make a positive difference in our communities—thus sparking the creation of a program that framed leadership not as a rank or position but as a way of being.

Leadership as a way of being

Since then, the Leadership 2020 program has shared exactly those kinds of leadership knowledge, skills, and capacity throughout our sector. Participants have developed their own personal leadership practice, discovered new ways to build and work with teams, nurtured the careers of others through coaching and mentorship, and learned how to deal with conflict in order to create healthy and accountable workplaces.

Twelve different cohorts and over 400 people have taken their leadership to a new level. And we’re not done. Applications for the 2019 cohort are open now. If you want to learn more, information sessions for participants and supervisors are scheduled over the coming weeks. You can find dates, details, and the application form here.

A new way of being a leader

The Federation continues to offer this program because we firmly believe that Leadership 2020 is just as valuable and necessary now as it was 8 years ago. But we also know that times have changed. In many ways, the issues we are facing are more complex. In many ways, our sector is more vulnerable. And in many ways, the need for change is even more urgent.

The kind of leadership that is called for in these times is a leadership that embodies that urgent need for change. So for all of those that want to join us in making change right here and now, we are offering a brand new program to help you do just that: the Leadership 2020 Apprentice Circle.

If the Leadership 2020 program is about understanding leadership as a way of being, the Apprentice Circle is about applying and embedding this new way of being a leader into our teams and our projects and our communities—it’s an invitation to become the kind of leader that is needed. We want to empower you, your staff, and your organization to build capacity, face complexity, and amplify your impact where it matters most.

Participating in the program is both an opportunity to do things differently and a commitment to do things differently. It’s about declaring and embodying your desire for change and joining a group of other passionate, inspired, and motivated people who will work together to fundamentally reimagine our approaches, structures, and outcomes.

The Apprentice Circle won’t solve your problems or give you the answers to the hard questions you’re facing. But it will build resilience in the people and organizations that take part. It will translate intention and motivation into capability and capacity. It will support and mentor leaders from across the province as they work on projects, programs, and policies in the ways that are needed right now rather than the ways that have been possible in the past. It’s about taking what’s best about Leadership 2020 and amplifying it in the direction of our biggest problems and scariest challenges.

If your organization is seriously committed to fundamentally changing BC’s social care sector, this is one of the best opportunities available to you to make that happen. So learn more, join an information session, and apply now.

Rebecca Ataya-Lang
Federation Director of Programs and Services