From 17-29 April 2016, a promising group of young liberal leaders from across the globe gathered at the International Academy for Leadership (IAF) in Germany. Amongst them were two of the Africa Liberal Network’s own young leaders, Jawad Chafil (Morocco) and Stenah Shampile (Zambia).
Thanks to the long-standing support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the ALN cites this as one example of its commitment to developing young African leaders and empowering them to take on the world stage of liberalism.
An experiment in world liberalism
Both Jawad and Stenah are passionate about politics at home in Morocco and Zambia, respectively, and without doubt, they hold that their time at the IAF taught them new skills to take back and use in their own political lives.
Jawad summarises the seminar for us:
“The IAF Leadership for Young Leaders was an open experiment. It offered us a framework, set up by the IAF, to evaluate all the contents, methods, and objectives ourselves.”
“We learned that although training and developing young leaders is a difficult task, it is incredibly worthwhile because it leads to a better moral standing of liberalism. This takes place through the need to always increase the capacity and capabilities of young people everywhere – in democratic institutions and organisations at all levels”.
For Stenah, her time at the IAF proved important for self-reflection, “There was one particularly mind-blowing session where we were asked why we lead. I must confess, I have never asked myself why I do what I do! It was a question that was difficult to answer but with the guidance of our wonderful and great facilitators, we managed to get to know why we are involved in leadership ourselves.”
As for the learning environment, Jawad sees the IAF as “a dynamic process influenced by the design and structure of the program as well as the environment in which it occurred. We had a supportive environment of deep thinking; which itself represented the culture of IAF”.
Lessons in leadership
“We also learned a great deal about personality types and how that relates to leadership. A good leader will recognise these personality types and come up with a strategy on how to handle each personality type for the good of the organisation. I learned a valuable lesson here in that there is much value in every personality type; there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ ones,” says Stenah.
Closely related to this is the concept of personal branding. Jawad and Stenah were given the opportunity to think about their own brand, what they want it to be, and how their brands are perceived by other people. A key realisation here is that their brands have a very strong impact on how they lead others.
The seminar held a special focus on some critical tools for leadership, amongst them, communication, active listening, the power of imagination and open space technology.
Leadership from theory to reality
The participants were exposed to some examples of best practice in leadership. In their engagements with liberal leaders, Stenah and Jawad had the opportunity to attend the Federal Congress of our German sister-party, the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and engage with the party’s leadership.
The ultimate lesson
Both our young Zambian and Moroccan leaders have one important piece of advice to share as a result of their experiences at the IAF. Stenah leaves us on this note:
“We had powerful presentations from various speakers; from politicians to business persons, all made it clear that what made them successful is that they have stayed true to themselves. They are honest with themselves, and we must do just the same.”