In 2016 the Rotary Club of Gately in East London identified the need for a leadership programme that would cultivate the integrity of young adults. Rotary wanted to develop young leaders in business who know themselves, can build positive relationships, be active citizens of diverse communities and who are willing to put service above self in their lives. The programme is targeted at young leaders in the workplace who are already “swimming upstream” against the flow of being average. A fundamental aspect of the programme is that the participants are drawn from diverse backgrounds, cultures and vocations. Two years after the fact, the realisation of the Rotary Young Leadership Programme (RYLP) will see the graduation of the second group of 20 young leaders from this practical, innovative programme.
“What makes this programme different is the fact that it is grounded in practical experience,” says Guy Rich, the programme facilitator. The Rotary Club of Gately has put together a programme that calls for the sharing of insight, knowledge and understanding of leadership by local professionals, coupled to real-world examples and supported by mentorship that allows these young leaders to develop themselves in an often very confusing community and workplace environment. “Young leaders have the theoretical knowledge about leadership. However, when they enter the workplace and they experience leadership in society-at-large, what they have learnt and what they experience are vastly different. This leaves potential young leaders confused and at times cynical about their role. The RLYP has been designed to not only give these young leaders guidance and direction but also to provide them with practical tools to grow and develop into future leaders”, says Rich.
The seven-month programme is designed to build leadership fluency in the areas of principle-driven leadership, resilience, accountability and ethical behaviour, leadership in a culturally diverse society, leadership in service of others, active citizenship, finding your voice as a leader and leadership and strategy.
The programme has strict attendance and participation requirements. To successfully complete the programme, participants are required to submit a journal of their experience over the 7 months, a Portfolio of Evidence and to make a final presentation to their sponsors, mentors and members of Rotary.
“Initial funding has been provided by East London’s Leadership Development Institute Trust (LDIT). Each participant is required to pay a small fee to participate. However, to avoid limiting participation to only the elite, it is envisaged that a portion of the costs will continue to be sponsored”, says project convener Rotarian Carey Kurten. “The response from the East London business community has been tremendous and those companies who have participants on the programme have seen the change that their young leaders have experienced, and have witnessed the impact within their own organisations”. Following the success and impact of the programme in 2017 and 2018, the Rotary Club of Gately will once again run the programme in 2019.