Some time ago I did an exercise in which I had to design three scenarios for my future. One scenario is about how it would look like in three years when things go on like they do today. The second scenario is about my dream has come true and I realise my next fundamental step. The third scenario is the crazy scenario that one does not expect to happen. I shared these scenarios with my colleague Hans Ruijs during our master class leadership. The third scenario was about giving a speech in the UN Assembly about horizontal leadership and how this could change our world. A few weeks later Hans was invited by Sabine Bhanot, Acting Chief, Staff Development and Learning Sections of the UN in Geneva to present horizontal leadership to a selected group of staff members of the UN. Hans invited me then to join him in this visit and so we did on Tuesday the 16th of June 2015.

I took the plane to Geneva and Hans the direct train from Brugg to Geneva airport. We went by taxi to the UN buildings. We were scanned and controlled at the entrance and then we walked shortly over the premises. We saw all the flags and the old entrance building of the UN.

Adriaan and Hans_optThere we met Sabine. Hans worked with her 12 years ago and then she left to Germany and later for a mission to India. Now she is back here in Geneva and wants to make a new step. Therefore she called Hans. When we sat together she described the past period and said to Hans:” I could do this on the basis of what I learned when I worked with you here in the UN”. She wanted to explore horizontal leadership and she had organized an open workshop of 1,5 hour for interested people and then a two hour meeting with colleagues. In both meetings Hans gave an introduction on some key ideas of horizontal leadership and showed two IMO films you can find on our website under ‘Publications’. Then the participants did an exercise in small groups asking clarifying questions and discovering the steering convictions that drive the action. Then we reflected on the workings of the exercises and in the end explored the question: ”How relevant is this for the future of the UN”. In total 43 people participated and we observed great interest in the concepts we presented and a willingness to do the exercises and share the experiences. This makes sense was the conclusion and Sabine feels strongly the need to explore next steps in the UN introducing horizontal leadership. The two deputy general secretaries that lead the Geneva UN have strong interest in new leadership and in creating valuable change. There she sees a chance to contribute.

Hans and I and also the Swiss IMO colleagues look forward to next steps that Sabine likes to do together with her network in the UN.

Could we dream of giving a nice speech in the general assembly of the UN on horizontal leadership?


Hans Ruijs and Adriaan Bekman

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