Knowing ourselves : an emerging dialogue between nature and leaders
Williams, Kent Andrew
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SubjectAuthentic Leadership; Development Movement; Experiential Learning; Leadership; Nature Education; Reflexivity
This phenomenological-centered study explores the lived experiences of 12 global leaders participating in a leadership Nature retreat. Through the retreat process, set in a Nature-holding environment on the Canadian coast, the participants experienced a paradigm shift in developmental movement in the meaning making of their evolving self-knowledge, self-identity, and self-narrative. This research exploration is supported by constructive developmental theory and informed by complexity leadership theory, and considers the importance of a sense of wonder in the unfolding of this lived experience. The research questions guiding this scholarly project were: (1) How did each leader contextually experience the Nature retreat? (2) How did the leaders experience developmental movement (differentiation) during the retreat? And (3) Did the leaders experience a transformation in knowledge? The data were collected using a threestage series of interviews with each participant: (1) a preliminary interview two to four months prior to the retreat experience to get the participant’s context to their lived experience, or what might be considered a baseline; (2) a second interview at the end of the retreat to reconstruct the lived experience; and (3) a third interview three months post-retreat to gain the participant’s reflexive thoughts on the lived experience. The collective voices of the participants evoke insights that provide support for emerging approaches in leader development that focus on learning from experiences in Nature. Through anecdotes and emerging literature it is suggested that the Nature-holding environment provides leaders with the opportunity for supported challenges that develops their capacity to embrace the complexity of the rapidly changing world. Through the Nature retreat process emerged an unfolding dialogue between Nature and leaders that acts as a gateway to learning about the self.
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