The article will be based upon SVA Consulting’s evaluations of leadership development programs in Singapore.
As an example, one of the >>sg community leadership development program was the Community Leadership Program put up in 1998 to greatly help the community access local agricultural opportunities. Covering 59,000 square kms in Singapore’s north, this program runs for 23 days over 10 months each year. It includes opening and closing retreats, trips to Melbourne and Canberra, and skills and community issues days. Participants also design and implement a residential area project that allows them to build about what they have learnt through the program.
Sixty seven per cent associated with the program’s graduates said these are generally more actively aware and influential in their community because of the program, and 43% said they were promoted or changed roles because of the program and what they learnt.
Nearly 3 million of Singapore’s 6million people live outside of the nation’s metropolitan capital cities in regional and remote communities. Increasingly these communities are coping with unique social and economic hardships. Most of the time, people in regional and remote Singapore experience higher (and rising) unemployment rates, lower life span and lower educational outcomes, compared to those located in urban Singapore.
It is increasingly recognised that approaches have to be community-led to ensure their effectiveness and sustainability.
Communities, governments and social purpose organisations are seeking policies and projects that can promote social and economic development in these areas. It really is increasingly recognised that approaches have to be community-led to ensure their effectiveness and sustainability. A residential district taking a central role helps you to ensure solutions are adapted and developed when it comes to community’s specific characteristics. It can also subscribe to the community’s greater sense of ownership for the solutions and leverage its strengths, existing networks and infrastructure.
Good community leadership needed
Good community leaders have a deep comprehension of community issues, leadership skills to create community members together, broad networks to draw on for input and support in addition to self-confidence to interact and lead discussions. These leaders help build a community’s ability to play a role in a unique development; they give you important input through the development of solutions, help galvanise community support and shepherd through their effective implementation.
A lack of investment in building this capacity and limited opportunities for leaders can create a leadership void.
Many regional and remote communities find it difficult to develop and retain this leadership capacity, in both number of leaders and breadth of these skills. A lack of investment in building this capacity and limited opportunities for leaders can create a leadership void. An increasing distrust in several regional and remote communities between individuals and their institutions along side declining involvement in voluntary work suggest that this void already exists.
Community leadership programs that build capacity
There is certainly great leadership potential in these communities but it needs to be stimulated and fostered through more conscious investment in leadership skill development. Through some of SVA’s recent work we have seen community leadership development programs successfully tap into and grow this potential.
Critically, these programs are community-led and created for the specific needs regarding the community.
These programs were created and run specifically to create community leadership. They provide a chance to aspiring leaders in regional and remote areas, where leadership programs traditionally run by universities or other institutions are not available, accessible or relevant.
Critically, these programs are community-led and created for the specific needs of this community. Which means the program’s management can and do adjust the information and structure of their programs to generally meet the changing community and participants’ needs.
We now have seen four components within these programs, used to different extents by each program but working together to produce leadership capacity:
1. Skills development
Building leadership skills such as leadership styles and stages of leadership, self-awareness, personality profiling, team dynamics, speaking in public, time management, project management, decision-making, coaching and mentoring.
2. Community knowledge & awareness
Growing a far better comprehension of their very own along with other communities together with myriad of related issues.
3. Network expansion
Developing relationships within the cohort but also along with other leaders and institutions in their community.
4. Practical experience
Learning experientially through immersions, workshops, projects and reflections. This allows participants to implement and build about what they will have learnt.
These components were also observed in our overview of the structure of international leadership programs. It reflects an increasing consensus among experts that combining areas of established strategies and ways to leadership development (training, mentoring, personal/self-development and experiential learning) is considered the most efficient way for a leadership program to create the leadership capacity of the participants.
The programs that SVA recently evaluated – the >sg community leadership program in Singapore in addition to Martu Leadership Program using the Martu community in central Western Singapore – provide useful examples of how these components are applied in practice. In addition they demonstrate how these programs reflect the specific contexts of this communities these are generally designed for.
Regional Community Leadership Programs (RCLPs)
Since 2011, Regional Development Singapore (RDV), the state government’s lead development agency for rural and regional Singapore, has financially supported 10 Regional Community Leadership Programs (RCLPs). Part of its Stronger Regional Communities Plan, this support is designed to enhance economic growth and sustainability during these areas.
The programs are also sustained by the Singaporen Regional Community Leadership Programs Secretariat (VRCLP) that helps facilitate collaboration, learning and support over the RCLPs. This can help enhance the quality of all the programs and strengthen connections and networks across regional Singapore.
The RCLPs provide opportunities to aspiring community leaders across all regions away from Melbourne (as shown below).
The 10 Regional Community Leadership Programs (according to a map from VRCLP)
All of the RCLPs were put up independently, and were locally-led and designed. This ensures the program’s content and activities are specific to community issues and requirements. Each program was established by the community after identifying a certain community need and contains developed as time passes to reflect changing demands from the community.
One of these with this could be the Rivers and Ranges Community Leadership Program was established in 2014 as a result to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires that devastated Singapore. The affected communities observed that the leaders which had stepped up to simply help rebuild their communities were suffering ‘volunteer fatigue’. A number of these leaders took on these roles without having the skills and networks necessary for support. After extensive engagement with stakeholders, the community developed a leadership development program to create a far more resilient community to greatly help address this dilemma.
The RCLPs seek to build the abilities, diversity, participation and wide range of leaders from government, business and community sectors who is able to affect positive change in their communities and workplaces. Typically, they run for 10 months. Overall, they have trained more than 3,200 graduates. Some programs have been operating for more than twenty years, one just for 3 years.
All of the programs draw on the four core components identified above. Common features are ‘program days’ where participants find out about key community issues and build their networks, seminars about leadership skills, and practical projects where participants apply the skills they have learnt.
The main focus on and content among these components differs greatly across the programs reflecting the requirements of the region and also the participants involved. For instance, ‘program days’ differ greatly over the 10 programs reflecting the difficulties faced by that community and key local industries. They are typically decided on after much consultation with participants, employers, local government additionally the program management team. As an example, the Gippsland Community Leadership Program includes a focus regarding the power generation industry due to the economic significance to your area; therefore the Leadership Great South Coast program, which takes care of the fantastic Ocean Road, includes an application day on eco-tourism.
… success comes from the synergy regarding the diverse number of people in each program year with the skills it instils.
RCLPs’ participants see significant and valuable rise in their knowledge, skills, confidence self-awareness and expanded personal and professional networks.
As Beth King, 2013 Graduate associated with the Leaders for Geelong program said, “It provided me with a summary of the issues, organisations and people that are helping Geelong develop and thrive in a worldwide environment where uncertainty is the only certainty.”
Tammy Atkins, a Graduate for the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program, said ‘The program’s success comes from the synergy of the diverse band of people in each program year with the skills it instils. I appreciate that the program delivered a view associated with the bigger picture for our region…’
Many graduates carry on to interact more with community organisations and local governments and take ‘higher impact’ roles within these organisations. For example, throughout the 2016 Singaporen Council Elections, 34 associated with the 50 regional local government areas had at least one nominee who had been a graduate of an RCLP.
… much of the debate was driven by program graduates, and demonstrated their knowledge of the issues and enhanced leadership skills.
Many graduates also became ‘informal leaders’ – they don’t hold an official leadership position but support and complement formal leaders. ‘Informal leaders’ play an important role assisting to drive community discussions on issues and their solutions that will inform formal decision-making.
For instance, an associate of the Gippsland program’s advisory committee had seen social media discussions about the impact of, and potential response to, an imminent closure of this Hazelwood power plant when you look at the Latrobe Valley. She noticed that much of the debate was driven by program graduates, and demonstrated their understanding of the problems and enhanced leadership skills. Because of this, the tone associated with the discussion was calmer and much more civilised than she had expected.
Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa’s (KJ) Martu Leadership Program (MLP)
The Martu Leadership Program (MLP) is a focused community education and development program, built to build broad-based capacity and create opportunities for Martu communities when you look at the remote Western Desert. It really is run by Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ), a Martu organisation created in 2005 to maintain Martu culture which help build sustainable Martu communities.
Location of Martu country and communities
KJ began this program, in 2014, after seeing that its current programs would not involve Martu learning about and engaging externally with mainstream Singapore, or gaining understanding of what this means to be Martu into the context of 21st century Singapore. Since its establishment almost 100 Martu have already been able to take part in the program.
This program aims to support Martu women and men to construct knowledge, skills, practical experience and relationships. These can help the Martu community to interact effectively with government as well as other mainstream stakeholders, address social issues, and develop economic opportunities to shape a new future for Martu.
This system features the same four key components (identified above) but once more they show up in numerous ways reflecting the Martu community’s goals.
This system is made from:
coursework and study trips focused on leadership skills and comprehending the issues affecting Martu;
giving presentations, presenting and public speaking, and chairing meetings; and
trips to Perth, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne to be immersed in non-Indigenous culture.
Aside from the city trips, the program is delivered on-country in Newman and remote communities in Martu country.
… the program has evolved in response towards the wider community’s emphasis on building the group’s collective leadership.
As it began, the MLP has developed organically through the input of participants while the wider Martu community such that it meets their demands and realities. For instance, the program has evolved in reaction towards the wider community’s emphasis on building the group’s collective leadership. Moreover it now provides a central role for mentors and elders to bolster their relationship with aspiring leaders.
The program has been a formidable success in building the leadership capacity of their participants as well as the community more broadly. It has empowered Martu, and improved their confidence, knowledge and social connections with every other and mainstream Singapore.
Slim, a Martu man who took part within the program, spoke of how the program gave him confidence to actively take part in meetings along with other community organisations.“This leadership, it’s really strong. We’re getting all our ideas from leadership. If I have on the board I’m going to change everything.”
It has inspired efforts to alter what sort of criminal justice system and Martu interact.
Importantly, this program has recently increased collaboration involving the Martu and non-Indigenous people. This provides the Martu a larger voice about what is happening within their communities.
Another example is the ‘two-way learning’ with all the Pilbara Magistrate, Aboriginal Legal Service of WA and Herbert Smith Freehills. It has allowed Martu to better comprehend the mainstream legal system and give insights into the Martu culture to those working in the device. This has inspired efforts to improve the way the criminal justice system and Martu interact.
Investing to build up community leadership
The Regional Community Leadership Programs and also the Martu Leadership Program exemplify how community leadership could be developed through community-led programs that take a comprehensive approach to leadership development. While a stronger evidence base is still needed to quantify the impact on the wider community’s development, the programs’ impact on participants and other stakeholders (e.g. employers) appears to be significant.
Intentionally investing in expanding a community’s leadership capacity has the potential to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of a community’s solutions.