Leadership Leaps of Faith

We were about 50 people who gathered for a Vancouver Board of Trade Company of Young Professionals development night. Our invitation was framed as a unique opportunity for collective dialogue with The Vancouver Board of Trade’s new President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Iain Black.

After a presentation from Mr. Black, “Leading Like I Know What I’m Doing”, where he chronicled his leadership leaps of faith and the big questions holding his attention, we transitioned into a World Café. In itself this was a leap of faith from previous CYP event experiences, holding space for the CYPers to connect and explore “how we can support each other and accelerate our contributions as the leaders the world needs us to be”. And to discover how might the VBOT connect, develop and support Young Professionals in making change on the issues they care deeply about.

I was inspired by the idea of inviting deeper listening at the start of the World Café rounds and began with the imagery of Indiana Jones standing at the edge, needing to cross the chasm. A parallel to leadership today; hearing the call to step into leadership but trembling at the precipice. Indiana takes the leap of faith, steps out and incredibly the ground materializes beneath him. Then sharing the John McKnight quote “We have a calling. We are the people who know what we need. What we need surrounds us. What we need is each other. And when we act together, we will find our way” to lead us into the first round’s question:

What is one question or issue that you personally care deeply about? One that, if explored with others, could make a difference to the future?

The chimes interrupted the conversation and a flurry of harvesting key questions on stickies, followed by the invitation to listen to a quote by Martin Luther King Jr, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” to lead us into the second round’s question:

What small step could you take right now that would start working towards the future of that question or issue?

As the round unfolded I was at the wall trying out my graphic recording skills. More conversation, more harvesting on stickies and we headed into the third and final round:

How can we support each other in accelerating our development as young leaders? What do we need?

The final harvesting on stickies and a short group popcorn of what discoveries or sparks you are leaving with tonight. Words of connection and belonging, of finding common threads and other insights (also see the Twitter story). The group lingered while I finished up the chart (not bad for my first one!) and we had fun with some photo ops with Mr. Black and the fantastic team of Austin Nairn and Adam Cotterall – what an honour!

Where are you feeling called into leadership? What do you need to take the leap of faith?

Update: here is a post by Sarah Smith with event highlights and some photos.