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Home » Future of Work » Experiential leadership course where leaders learn from one another is key to organisational change

Dara Connolly

CEO, Common Purpose Ireland

Managing organisational change requires a sophisticated range of skills. A unique leadership course is bringing together leaders from radically different walks of life to share experiences to learn from each other and inspire new ways of thinking.

Increasingly, businesses and organisations across Ireland are in the process of making big changes, both in their internal organisational vision and in how they relate to social changes around them. This includes the growth of multiculturalism and equity, diversity and inclusion. As organisations become more horizontal, a good leader needs to be agile enough to embrace the ambitions of their staff and stakeholders while keeping abreast of changes outside their particular sector. 

Experiential learning through a leadership course

Common Purpose CEO Dara Connolly has experienced firsthand how learning from people from different walks of life takes leaders outside their bubbles and into spaces where they can better understand how to respond to potential challenges.

The courses support senior staff, high-potential workers and younger people to make transformative personal, organisational and social change.

Mr Connolly attended the Common Purpose Senior Leaders course when he worked in corporate finance and it drastically changed his perception of his capabilities. “By helping me to broaden my scope, it brought out skills that I didn’t know I had,” he explains. “Our courses curate groups of leaders by bringing them into spaces where they can articulate their challenges and solutions. The magic happens when they share their experiences, which we call peer-to-peer experiential learning. They then work on how they can put what they have learnt into practice.’’

Discovering differences and similarities in other leaders

More than 5,000 people from All-Ireland have been on a Common Purpose course. The courses support senior staff, high-potential workers and younger people to make transformative personal, organisational and social change.

As well as taking people from different sectors, the company subsidises social impact organisations. “The more diverse the group of people, the better,” explains Donnelly. “For example, we will bring together a governor of a prison, a migrant leader in social enterprise and a CEO of a technology company — and they will find so much commonality.

“You learn empathy, resilience and purpose from experiencing how others display those traits,” he adds. “By drawing these elements out, leaders can relate to others’ experiences firsthand. This inspires and shocks people — but it takes them out of their comfort zones.”

Sharing diverse experiences to effect change

Once they complete a 50-hour, three-month course — conducted in person and online — attendees draw on the ‘cross-pollination’ of skills, backgrounds, experience and inspiration in their daily roles. Mr Connolly concludes that: “People will draw on their lived experiences by asking, ‘What would my peers think about this scenario?’ Then, they get connect with their network to help alternative solutions to a given challenge” Shared learning at its finest.

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