CCL-Kabul began at the CCL campus in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Working with a huge team of designers and researchers, we considered the challenges surrounding how someone might learn leadership in Afghanistan.

We would have to deliver in Dari.  We would be working with a population that although very intelligent, and may not have a had a great deal of formal education.  Every one we would be working with had served in war, with the Northern Alliance, the Mujahadeen, or even the Soviets.  Some of these men had actually fought against each other, on opposite sides, at different times.

They were already good leaders – what can we do to help them become better, think differently about themselves, and their organization?  How can we possibly help them think through the obstacles and focus on a vision for themselves and their country?

We decided to build on a program called Leadership Essentials, combined with the successful Leadership Beyond Boundaries design used so effectively by CCL in developing countries in Africa, as well as India.  This provided a history of success when working with this type of population.

But, as everyone who has been there will tell you, Afghanistan is different.  We would need to take this proven design and integrate an Afghan quality to it – one that builds from Afghan society’s foundation of family, tribe, ethnicity, and pride.  And, of course, we want to integrate our training into the training already being conducted by the Training Command in Afghanistan.  They work daily with the Afghan Army to produce a national army for the country – one that can serve as the unifying element, a role model of tolerant diversity.

Big goals, yes – scary goals actually.  But if you don’t start working towards your goals today, when will you begin?  As one old Afghan hand put it, ‘you have to start somewhere…’

So we began putting together CCL-Kabul.  Just like any other CCL program, the participants would sit in groups, not Soviet-style in classrooms.  Each table would have a mentor, and thanks to our friends in Kabul, each table would have an interpreter.  We would treat them just like every other valued participant, with the exception that we would not do psychometric assessments like MBTI.

Instead, their discussions and use of questioning and a tool called Visual Explorer would provide the necessary level of self-disclosure needed to allow individual understanding and reflection as the launching point for leadership awareness and action.

In Kabul, support for the program had reached a tipping point.  At first, support was hard to gain in spite of the desire for change.  When the program design arrived, along with program slides, the client had a change of heart. They began discussing this across the command – building support with the Afghan Army for participating in the program.

Knowing we had the support of the leadership in both coalition and Afghan commands, we mailed the boxes of program materials, and I jumped on a series of planes that would take me to Kabul.

Stay tuned for Part III…

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