RCLA's Bethany Godsoe and Waad El Hadidy were pleasantly surprised when they facilitated a leadership session for visiting undergraduate students from the United Arab Emirates at the end of January. One of the goals was to challenge the still-popular image of leadership as the heroic singular (typically male) figure. It turned out the students felt strongly that the world is in need of a different kind of leadership than the model dominant in popular culture and much of the scholarly discourse. They called for a collective model of leadership marked by groups of people working together toward a common goal and distributing leadership tasks within the group.
As top students selected for the inaugural class of the NYU's Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars program, they are themselves young leaders with a good grasp of what collective leadership looks like. For instance, one student likened collective leadership to a cello - each string played alone creates a single tone but played together, they form a beautiful melody.
Without denying the role of the individual leader, the Scholars discussed the present world conditions that call for collective leadership: the interconnectedness of economies, increasing democratization, decentralized governance structures, etc. They underscored that sound leadership is that which enables leadership to multiply. So one of the roles of the leader is to enable others to take up their own leadership to address an issue of public and social value and transcends their immediate individual interests.
Lucas Welch, founder and president of Soliya, joined the scholars in a dialogue about how his exciting youth organization helps foster collective leadership by using internet technology to bridge gaps in understanding between students in the ‘East' and ‘West.'
The Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Scholars program offers a unique learning and leadership development opportunity. Top students from various universities in Emirates are selected annually to take a course with NYU President John Sexton on the relationship between church and state. The program is managed by NYU Chief of Staff and Deputy to the President Diane C. Yu.
Click here more information about the program.
Click here for a recent article about the students selected for the inaugural class of scholars.