Collaboration beyond Ego - A Belgrade Leadership Masterclass
- Written by Jovan Markov
БЕОГРАД – On 9th July 2015, Belgrade hosted an inspiring masterclass called "Future Leadership - Collaborative Solutions to Wicked Problems?".
The event was organized by Professor Dr Nataša Čiča, director of consultancy Kapacity.org which works globally to support organisations and leaders implement effective and sustainable change. In 2013 Nataša was recognized by the Australian Financial Review and Westpac banking group as one of the 100 most influential women in Australia, she was an inaugural Sidney Myer Creative Fellow, and she is an adjunct professor in law at the Australian National University. Nataša holds both Australian and Serbian citizenship, and in recent years she has visited Belgrade frequently to build educational and cultural bridges between the people of Serbia and Australia.
Nataša very kindly accepted our invitation to tell the House of Good News more about this masterclass event.
'The ‘Future Leadership – Collaborative Solutions to Wicked Problems?’ masterclass was held in downtown Belgrade – at Beograđanka, which is a great space for civic events. The key speaker was Alex Cameron, a British expert in collaborative leadership whose London-based advisory business is called Socia. Socia works with organisations, boards and individual leaders to help them collaborate across boundaries and differences. Alex has extensive experience in the oil and gas sector and in other contexts where people know they must collaborate to arrive at a better result. Their motivation to collaborate is not just about ‘doing the right thing’ – it delivers better business in terms of profit, employment and sustainability of ventures.”
“I was delighted that Alex Cameron could visit Serbia and participate in this masterclass, which was attended by a great cross-section of local young people and mid-career professionals from a wide range of backgrounds,” Nataša continued, “The masterclass was dialogue-based, interdisciplinary and intensive. My only regret is that we had just a few hours for everyone to share ideas – not a few days!”
''I was also delighted to ‘co-create’ this event with entrepreneurial young Serbs with whom I’ve been working for a few years now – including Nataša Gligorijević who founded the New Diplomacy Centre here in Belgrade, and Kosta Živanović who is President of the University Club for UNESCO. The event was formally opened by Yves Lopez (visiting from France) and Aleksandar Protić, representing the French Federation for UNESCO. The event was on the eve of Nikola Tesla's birthday, so it was perfect timing to also celebrate UNESCO's International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. It was a great demonstration of the kind of positive human energy that Tesla's legacy brings to humanity.”
Instead of a big ‘platform-style’ lecture with hundreds of people just sitting and listening, the masterclass was more focused on conversations between specialists. It included around 25 invited participants. “The masterclass addressed challenging questions that face all leaders – and which are particularly timely as countries in this region and across the globe face so-called ‘wicked problems’, especially regarding economic, social and national security,” Nataša explained. “Alex Cameron explored how to build relationships based on trust, how to handle conflict and how to share control. His presentation was followed by a panel discussion involving young Serbian writer Milena Peralović and Aleksandar Plavšin who established the Centre for Economic Diplomacy and Management, because I believe it is important to include the voice and perspective of young people of vision and integrity in discussions about leadership.”
“I find working with young people in Serbia extremely rewarding and inspiring,” Nataša said, “Many of the young people I have connected with here are unusually motivated and engaged with the wider world, and combine this with a strong and sincere loyalty to their own nation and community. Many young people in Serbia do ask me how they can be professionally successful and still be good people. I don't have easy answers to that difficult question, but I'm confident they'll find the answers themselves. I have particularly enjoyed working with a cluster of talented and principled young people here who are deeply inspired by Tesla'sexample of humanist and peace-building endeavour.”
An interesting detail about Alex Cameron is that he began his career as a zoologist. So, one of the engaging examples he used from his scientific background to illustrate his points about collaborative leadership was the case of slime mould. Slime mould is a living creature made out of individual cells that usually float around alone – but when there's a challenge, they come together and they all work for the same purpose. So Alex Cameron used this as an example of best practice collaboration, this funny little animal. He observed that – unlike for slime-mould – sharing, trusting and working together is much harder for human beings because of our ego. So a lot of what he talked about was how we manage ego as leaders, and the difference between healthy self-confidence and unhealthy arrogance.
Judging by the reactions of the participants, and their ongoing discussions on this topic since the masterclass, this was a presentation that fulfilled its aim of opening some different thinking about leadership and problem-solving.
The House of Good News thanks Professor Dr Nataša Čiča for taking time to share her impressions of this event with our readers. We certainly will report on her future initiatives in Serbia.