The first step toward realization was four years ago during a meeting of the IMO with the Department of Political Science at the Jesuit University Alberto Hurtado in Santiago, Chile. Adriaan Bekman and Jaime presented the Horizontal Leadership approach to the director of the department and a group of teachers. Thereafter, Jaime made three workshops on Personal Horizontal Leadership. The most recent one was held in the second half of 2015.
The Alberto Hurtado University was founded in 1997 to provide an opportunity for higher education to students from families with middle and low incomes. The core aim of the University is to “contribute to the development of the person and build a more just society.” In Chile education is predominantly private. The country’s educational system, imposed by the Pinochet dictatorship (1973–1990), is characterized by the Chilean neoliberal model (inspired by Friedrich Hayek of the Austrian School and Milton Friedman of the Chicago School). The crucial question today, at the level of society and government, is how to reform this radical neoliberal system. The challenge is to make the standards of education, health, retirement, and income distribution more on a part with those of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Chile is a member of this organization.
The participants in the workshop in all three of its editions have been a total of eight undergraduates and/or postgraduates. The participants have always evaluated the workshop highly in their feedback. The third and latest edition of the Horizontal Leadership workshop started from the question: How can I exercise and develop my personal leadership abilities in order to create my professional future? The participants in this case were eight postgraduate students in Social Ethics and Human Development and Policy. They came from various countries (Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mozambique) and with prior work experience in the public and private sectors. During the workshop, each participant undertook a process of research into his own life in the context of the aforementioned question. This question was developed through group interaction. This allowed them to identify the underlying meaning of what was being asked, to take initiative, and to be responsible for their own leadership process.
The workshop sessions were conducted through group dialogue in order to explore key horizontal leadership qualities, as an individual process. Continuous reference to one’s personal biography and connection with the university’s own biography were an important element of the whole process. Biographical connections were particularly significant in the individualization of the steering principles, and in the designing of the different possible scenarios for the future.
What is the ethical orientation of my own leadership in my life, and in my future work? This question was of great importance during the entire workshop. Indeed, the moral character of leadership was positioned as one the founding aspects of leadership development.
Some feedback from the participants illustrating the impact that the workshop had on them:
“The workshop helped me to reflect on my personal life and future professional work, and to take more conscious decisions.”
“The workshop helped me to rethink, and realize, what it is that I want, my ideas, my hopes, my dreams, my values—and making them practical and concrete.”
“It was a unique experience; it was the first workshop that helped me understand how to build a better future and to be responsible, by taking the decisions step by step.”
Jaime Rojas Elgueta