Leadership Development: ALIA Institute / Authentic Leadership in Action

Nova Scotia, Canada

I currently serve on the faculty team of the ALIA Institute, a network of regionally based, globally connected leadership programs and learning communities. ALIA is the home of Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership.

Since first convening in 2001 in Halifax, the Institute has developed an international reputation as a dynamic meeting place for people and ideas at the leading edge of organizational and societal change. ALIA's flagship Summer Institute draws 250-300 forward-thinking leaders and change makers in business, government, NGO's and civil society.

ALIA's partners and faculty have included some of the world's most respected thought leaders and practitioners in transformative leadership and social innovation:

Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline and founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning
Margaret Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science and founder of Berkana Institute
Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, authors of The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter and co-founders of The World Cafe
Art Kleiner, Editor-in-Chief of Strategy+Business
Marianne Knuth, Co-founder of Pioneers of Change and Creator of The Kufunda Learning Village in Zimbabwe
Otto Scharmer, author of Theory U: Leading from the Future As it Emerges, founder of The Presencing Institute and professor at MIT Sloan School of Management

...and many others.

"You came with incredible sensitivity and grace into a group of people who've been working together for 30 years or more. You were such a great listener: listening into who are these people and what are they up to and how you could contribute. You brought maturity, humbleness, and a willingness to really see how these people work and what makes this group tick. Everybody trusted you, which is a real credit to who you are and how you work. I think the group trusted you, in part, because you weren't there only to contribute what you know, but you were there as a learner also. Your ability to synthesize what was said and how we were working was very helpful. The process you used of recording our conversations, bringing your observations and sense-making really deepened our process."

Arawana Hayashi
ALIA Faculty

About ALIA's leadership development model
ALIA has created a unique leadership development model that integrates professional and personal cultivation.

This blend has proven to be more successful and impactful than even the founders had anticipated. The Summer Institute has strengthened the leadership of thousands of people around the world and has resulted in countless new collaborations. From ALIA Institute website

Participants advance their leadership through:

skill-building modules facilitated by pioneers in their fields,
instruction in mindfulness meditation,
training in creative process, and
plenary dialogues.

My roles and relationship with ALIA
Since 2007, my contributions to the ALIA community has taken different shapes

The seeds of my role as a presenter/facilitator began in 2007 when Margaret Wheatley invited me to be a guest presenter in her learning module, Practicing Fearlessness in Times of Fear, and I introduced kinesthetic metaphor exercises in Tom Hurley's module, Leadership in Networked and Emergent Systems.

Bringing it home
Back home in Minnesota, with support from Kentron Foundation, I independently hosted Breakfast and More, a series of "show-'n-tell-interactive-performance-chat-travelogue-workshop-meet-'n-greet-civic dialogue-type-breakfast events" based on my experiences at ALIA, which drew ninety leaders from around the state.

A participants' description of Breakfast and More
"I attended a session with 45 people representing a very culturally, ethnically, economically, and professionally diverse cross section of people. Wendy used a combination of power point presentation, group movement, demonstration, dance, discussion and large group process over a little more than two hours as a way for us to learn and experience what she had learned at the [ALIA] Institute. She held the group together through the whole process.

It had a significant impact on me at the time and has since. I came away with more intention to bring creativity into my work, knowing that I'm not an artist like Wendy is, but that I can be more effective if I tap into the creativity in me. So not to try to become Wendy, but to become more of me. I also came away inspired and with more of a global perspective about how new views of leadership are impacting significant issues around the world. And I made connections with others who were there that can be resources to me locally. The impact from this experience on me alone illustrates Wendy's leadership abilities."

Jean Hammink, Founder

These events were more successful and impactful than I had anticipated:

  • New relationships were created and old relationships renewed
  • Collaborations were seeded
  • Participants consistently reported feeling "inspired" as they went back to their organizations, businesses and communities with new perspectives about leadership in their own lives and in the world.

Participants came from the worlds of business, non-profit organizations, government and community cultural development.

Below are some of the organizations they were affiliated with:

Responsible Minnesota Business
Wells-Fargo Bank
The Office of the Mayor of Minneapolis
Minnesota Public Radio
Minnesota Department of Human Services/
American Indian Programs
Latino Economic Development
Leonardo's Basement
Hubert H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs
Women's Cancer Action

Coalition of Rural United Methodist Churches
Pathways Health Crisis Resource Center
Center for Independent Artists
Minnesota Council for Crime and Justice
Black Storyteller's Alliance
Achieve! Minneapolis
Patrick's Cabaret
Clouds in Water Zen Center
University of Minnesota
University of Wisconsin

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Copyright © 2009, Wendy Morris