The first module in this 4-modular programme gets off to a flying start
The Gordon Institute of Business Science of the University of Pretoria (GIBS) was the fine setting for Module I of the programme: Dynamics of Leading and Consulting being run in partnership by The Institute for Leadership and Transformation (TILT) and the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations, London. The title of Module I was Dynamics of Organisational & Systemic Change and it was directed by Dr Lerato Motsoaledi and Dr Mannie Sher. Seventeen participants from the world of banking, academia, public utility and independent coaches and consultant practitioners attended the 3-day module. The group was diverse and was made up of men and women of different races and socio-cultural groups that make up the rich mosaic of South Africa.
The module was constructed around discussions, in small groups and in a full group, of theoretical papers that gave a taste of Tavistock approaches to understanding and working consultatively with organisations and systems as they change, transform and adapt. A second cluster of events consisted of case presentations in small groups. Everyone had an opportunity to present a current work situation and to receive insights from their colleagues into the dynamics of the consultant-client relationship. A third cluster of events consisted of experiential learning involving social dreaming matrices, discussions of overnight thoughts, a sensing walk and importantly, in-depth reviews after every session and at the end of every day.
The module was constructed as a temporary system in which the lived dynamics of the module were thought and talked about resulting in profound and sometimes painful understandings of the historical conflicts of the country as well as its contemporary challenges for a fairer and more equitable society. The module was felt by the participants to be a success. To be sure, they worked hard, unravelling painful dynamics of race and gender, sometimes in tears and sometimes in delight. The wonder of it all was the emergence of African female leadership that was strong, powerful, sensible, forgiving and holding out the hand of friendship to their former persecutors. The experience was very moving. In South Africa the pain of prejudice between the races is extreme and these brave women ought to be honoured with a monument built to them.
The participants eagerly await the 2nd module, a Group Relations conference, at which they hope to take their learning further. The module was a fractal of the country and at times it seemed as if they were carrying many of the unresolved and perhaps unresolvable tensions that have conspired to land in this part of the world. Nevertheless, something revolutionary was happening right in front of our eyes and it was a privilege and an honour to be part of it.
A second element of the event in South Africa was a Masterclass led by Mannie at the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria that was arranged through the good offices of Professor Michelle May of UNISA and Dr Jean Cooper of TILT. Twenty-one academic staff and students and invited outsiders attended the Masterclass which included a lecture on “Why are we so afraid of Love when it comes to Leadership?”, followed by case presentations by two participants. As in the TILT module, the Masterclass was characterised by a strong desire to learn, to share and to think fresh thoughts. It was an honour to be working among such hopeful and optimistic people.
Dr Mannie Sher, PhD
Principal Consultant/Researcher; Executive Coach
The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations