In the project coordinator interview process, there was a question from Vaish that incase if you are selected as project coordinator you got to attend a 3 day leadership program in a hotel/resort in and around Chennai, can you ? Even after I said, yes, she again repeated the question – will you make yourself free for 3 days? I again repeated, yes, I can. I was thinking, who would say no for such a get-together!
On the day of the leadership conclave, while I was eating breakfast at home, I got SMS at 8.30am saying breakfast is available at resort so please come early – Romba paasakara pasangala irrukkangale !! On my way to venue, I got a call from Gana, where are you, as usual, I said, crossed Thiruvanmaiyur will reach in 5 mins. He said, ok come soon. I called him back, and said the truth I’m near OMR only, anything I need to do from this part of the city? He replied, dai go and pick Delhi volunteers from airport. Ok, now I got a good reason to hide my late; I drove to airport for the pick-up.
Entering the resort was a pleasant experience; that traditional hut shaped lodging paved new way to the experience of commingling with co-volunteers from other projects and cities. Entered into the presentation hall, with the expectation of seminars / presentations / PPTs – usual Microsoft window will appear for each presentation. Excitingly, doc and Vaish made all their presentations in PREZI – new tool to present your ideas, as it is, in your mind.
Now, came here the 3 strangers – Sujit, Gnani, and the other bald guy. Normally, I won’t have opinions about people or organization until I know them completely. Likewise, when these people introduced themselves, and started into the process of addressing, igniting, and illuminating leadership skills to everyone, I was listening with heart and mind open. At the end of this difficult listening process what I should stress more in is, ‘I never knew that these people could make everyone experience the leadership skills within us’. That said, these guys, taught us that those leadership skills are simple and mundane to have, but complex and exhaustive to employ.
From the first day, 2 main rules these 3 strangers adopted were very simple and effective. First, parking lot for phones during discussions or presentation everyone must park his/her phones in the parking lot while entering the hall. Second a native Indian (Appalachian) custom to not to interrupt a person who is talking during discussion. Native Indians used Stick to show the one who has a power of talking whereas Bhumians used a big pebble. We abided these 2 rules for 3 days.
First day was full of Introductions about each other, discussions about the goal of Bhumi for the next five year, discussion about the individual project goals, and the 5-step strategy to achieve these goals, project coordinators introduction about their projects. Everyone might have learnt where they are with respect to their project and where they have to transcend, as a whole Bhumi, in the next 5 years
Night in the resort, should I have to explain, was awesome. While having dinner, I could hear someone saying, ’Machi, I got tired by only talking’. After dinner, we walked to Beach, the beach was pleasant, calm, and ordinary, as it always used to be, with a husband (watch man) and his wife quarreling at one corner, and our volunteers walking in bare feet, and making calls to their friends and family. Finally, to register the day, we ended with photo sessions in beach.
Second day, we had a hint on the 1st day that 2nd day could be full of outbound activities. As said, 2nd day was full activities which will make you think in the room, act in the ground, and when you come back from the ground, these activities will groom you through discussions. The overview of some skills which we learnt on the 2nd day are Leader’s selection of team member is immaterial of the team’s performance, openness, concentrate on the goals leave the path in achieving it, talk talk and talk till everyone in your team understand your points, accept your false immediately and appreciate other’s points, always have measurable goals, and finally keep your ears wide open listen everything. With these skills experienced in the ground, and the conference room we left to our room only to get ready for the midnight meeting.
Third day was a mix of 1st and 2nd day. One outdoor activity, and discussions/Presentations. Doc,Vaish, and Bhargav somehow saved their energies so as to give their presentations in the end of the day. These presentations gave ideas more into the functional and operational aspects of our Bhumi. With all these great skills learnt, experienced, and experimented we set-off to leave the resort with happy smiles and byes to everyone. Now, I dropped all the Delhi, Pune, Jaipur vols in the airport, and came back to home with the glimpses of few images of three days…
“fight for puri during breakfast, Big Arshath’s small smile, Bhargav’s subway surfers costume, discussion, open-mindedness, quick decision making, Madhushree’s commitment towards Lakshya in Bangalore, decentralizing every chapters, reaching 250 children in Lakshya, Chicken 65 only for the lunch on the last day, beach walk and talk, Kathambari’s track pant, Gana’s fear for Kathambari’s retort, Prakash’s pole-photography, my room’s bathroom door which can be opened/closed only half, dance floor, bhumi’s goal of reaching 10000 children, doc’s vision of taking volunteering to the next level…………..”
Ramkumar Eswaran, Program Co-ordinator, Lakshya Chennai