Teaching leadership in Kabul is one of those things you just never see yourself doing. Sure, I had spent a year there before, but that was part of the US effort to develop the Afghan Army. But why return to Afghanistan, literally risking life and limb, to teach leadership?
And why try to teach leadership when the predominant opinion remains that current leaders can’t be taught anything, much less leadership. Hide bound by centuries of culture, years of war, internecine tribalism and ethnic rivalries, why should anyone want to present the opportunity for a different style of leadership.
Add to this the physical risk –
Kabul, although not openly contested, is a key prize for all the forces. There is the constant threat of violence, car bombs, hijacking, kidnapping, etc..
And we were going to go teach… leadership?
What a terrific idea! When contacted by my good friend and informed of this opportunity, he stated it in way difficult to turn down. He stated the Afghan Army needed a creative leadership approach because the current mentoring relationship had taught them just about all they could about management.
The section of the Afghan Army he was mentoring was developing OK, but it seemed to level out – they were progressing, but only so. Somehow, they needed to move beyond their current state, beyond the bureaucracy and Soviet model to something with momentum.
So he called CCL. He needed a class that would teach the difference between leadership and management, good teamwork, and decision-making. He wanted his Afghan counterparts to see a different mode of leadership and begin cracking the former leaderships styles left by Soviet masters, cultural bonds and personal egos. He thought the Center might just be the place that could make that happen.
Therefore, we talked on the phone; we did a Leadership Discovery process via email and I began to get a feel for this progressive group of officers he was assisting in
Afghanistan. They were smart, committed, and ready to move beyond their managerial restrictions into the boundless opportunities afforded by thinking and leading creatively (those are my words, not mine – he is much more analytic).
The mission of the Center began to come into play. And in the midst of remarkable challenges facing the Center, from economic crises to the normal daily grind of running a non-profit, the Center was unfailing in their support — even though the revenue of this program not very high.
I realized upon receiving the Center’s OK to go ahead, that in an age where companies, driven by the dollar that had lost their direction were failing, CCL was going to do well – very well. The Center’s dedication to supporting this initiative reflected a dedication to mission that failed companies seemed to lose. The CCL mission – the focus on development of leadership – but most important – for the benefit of society worldwide…the dedication to this mission, was an ideal that motivated me to endure the flights, the challenge of design, the challenge of teaching in Dari, and the inherent risk and danger involved with the program.
So, the entire CCL team began working together to build a design and I talked with travel to start booking the flights.
Stay tuned for Part II – Creating CCL-Kabul.