Written by CivicAction’s Communications Intern, Kyle Hayward.
On November 16th emerging leaders rose bright and early ready to break a sweat for ELNstudio: Better Leader Bootcamp, located at U of T’s Daniels Architecture building. My role as part of the Communications team was to document the day’s events and amplify #ELNbootcamp.
Nearly 150 ELNers registered for leadership skills workshops based on a personal strengths assessment, to take part in hands-on training including facilitators and speakers from a broad range of diverse leadership backgrounds.
The day was kicked-off by former CFL player and motivational speaker Orlando Bowen. If your morning coffee didn’t wake you up – Orlando certainly did. Through his humour and energy, Orlando led ELNers through a dynamic call-and-response icebreaker that quickly acquainted everyone in the room.
Following Orlando was Zabeen Hirjii, Exec Advisor on the Future of Work for Deloitte and Chair of CivicAction. Zabeen spoke on her experiences in the private sector and reminded ELNers of the importance of having a growth mindset. On a similar wavelength Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction, emphasized the shifts happening in the leadership landscape when it comes to trust, skills, and values.
Following the three speakers was Rosie Maclennan, her achievements as a two-time Olympic gold medallist grabbed the attention of the audience, but it was her story that captivated the room.
Insightful and full of wisdom, the 31-year-old told her story with complete vulnerability. Speaking of how her physical barriers compounded mental ones, and the mounting pressure as she trained for Tokyo 2020 was surrounded by thoughts of disempowerment and doubt.
Rosie showed ELNers that being someone who has achieved as much as she has still comes with uncertainty and anxiety throughout every step. But it was her response to adversity that exemplified true leadership qualities:
“In order to grow, you must make yourself vulnerable and be accepting of the uncertainty…the struggle is what prepares us for the moments we’re tested, it is the challenges and failures that are the most critical part of our journey”.
It was clear from the standing ovation after her speech that everyone in the audience will be cheering Rosie on at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
After lunch, it was time for ELNers to break a sweat in a number of the skill-building workshops. These included: Building Empathy with Lisa Watson, Building Digital Coalitions with Camille Dundas, and Collaboration Across Differences with Kofi Hope, to name a few.
As I covered these workshops throughout the afternoon, I had the pleasure of taking part in the workshop of Canadian Roots, Inclusive Leadership in Action with a Focus on Reconciliation. We were asked to talk with a partner about a light topic like “holiday plans”. During our conversation, we were stopped and asked to read a historical passage of the subjugation of Indigenous peoples in Canada. After everyone had read aloud their historical passage, we were told to resume our conversation.
Going from speaking about statistics of abuse in the residential school system, then back to my holiday plans created a discomforting feeling. But this was the intention of the exercise, to be informed of Canada’s past and to be conscientious of the continued healing process. ELNers were able to carry this unique experience with them and to always be a positive contributor in the reconciliation process for any future endeavors they embark on.
ELN studio was a jam-packed day—and these are only a few highlights. On top of all the events and speaking, the most noticeable aspect was the collective positivity in the building. Just witnessing that alone, I felt optimistic about the future of the community.