Seven graduates of Learn to Lead (L2L), a Sheffield-based student leadership development programme, spoke at a 'Greencoat Forum' in London 18 November, describing what effect L2L had had on their lives.
The evening was facilitated by Andrea Cooper, Customer Marketing Manager Homecare at Procter & Gamble, who was one of L2L’s first graduates, nine years ago. “We are all leaders. Whilst we may not label ourselves as leaders, we all have the skills necessary to lead,” Cooper said.
“L2L gave me the tools and techniques to lead my life. It gave me confidence and reminded me how to dream. Now, as a person, I just want to be the best person I can be,” said Nicky Clarke from Sky Media London.
“I never knew how to listen to or understand others and I used to wonder why others were not harmonious and why they didn’t change,” said Sashi Palaniswamy, who comes from Tamil Nadu in India. “I had never experienced such happiness and satisfaction like the one I had during the L2L programme. By providing a safe space to be, I learned how to listen and appreciate diversity amongst people. The most important lesson that L2L left me with is that change starts with me and I can look for the resources within me further than looking for them outside. Now I believe that if something is for me, it’s up to me,” she said.
Nicholas Manterfield from Deutsche Bank in London said that he used to be nervous and uncertain of what he wanted to achieve in life. “From thinking that I couldn’t do something, I have come to believe that once I have decided to achieve something, it will happen. Leadership starts with leading oneself, knowing what one wants to achieve and helping others to achieve what is for them. It is a way of creating something together that we want to be a part of. Now, we are trying to develop a network of like minded people who share the same spirit of leadership, to reach people in organisations to make ethical, moral and effective decisions for the future. I believe that leadership starts from within. If you can change yourself, together we can change the world.”
The interactive evening involved the audience of 60 in imagining what form leadership would take if it was described as a tree, an animal or a building. For instance, if leadership was a tree it would be an oak, strong and reliable, one person commented.
In his concluding remarks, London lawyer Kumar Raval, the founder and Chief Executive of Learn to Lead, commented, “It is my belief that, invoked or uninvoked, God is always present.”
by Fabiola Benavente