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Leader should be like an inverted pyramid who holds the space for the team to thrive

This blog describes what the visiting team learned from SALT visit to appreciate SAATHI community centre of Institute of Social Studies Trust, Delhi and the response of the host community to the SALT visit. Blog has been jointly compiled with Markus and Amita and inputs from Sudipta and Ragini. There is a short After Experience Reflection by the SALT team.

On 19th April… scorching hot morning in Delhi... when temperature crossed 43 degrees celsius, off we were four of us- Markus, Ragini, Sudipta (from ILO) and me for a SALT visit to a group of staff and volunteers of Community centre run by Institute of Social Studies Trust. This centre is hosted by the local police station and provides vocational and educational training to the youth and children of community located around it.  The centre was named Saathi, hindi word for companion. The community had high school drop out rates because the students did not want to study. The children and youth from this area wanted a friend and guide who could provide them education in a friendly way. That is how the centre acquired its name and infact says Amita Joshi its head that it was named by one of the community members.

Here is what we collectively learned from the community centre team

 It is important to stay closely connected with the neighborhood in which you are embedded so that you can better serve the community, stay relevant and be able to flexibly respond to change in your environment.

 Trust, based on mutual respect and transparency, can be the basis for effective conflict resolution and loyalty to an organization. Trust has been built by creating safe space in the team...the head has a large role to play. Everyone is welcome. "Trust cannot be learned through theories or manuals but from a team like this where we find strong trust between the staff." Markus

  Motivation can be created by a sense of being rewarded from work itself and the participation in the realization of a common good that goes well beyond the pursuit of individual goals alone.

   When you get adequate freedom and space in your work, you take initiative and find creative ways of doing things. If we imbibe this organisational culture,  members of a team can take initiative and leadership in their own sphere of work.

     Leadership matters. As it was pointed out during the discussions: “Leader should be like an inverted pyramid who holds the space for the team to thrive.” 

Here is the response to our SALT visit (on phone and email) from Amita Joshi, head Community centre

“After you left, we spent the whole time during lunch hour discussing the meeting. This was a great source of happiness for our team to meet highly evolved people like you. Heart to heart connection and loads of appreciation for our team. Ruby said someone can to listen to what we had to say, we felt valued. Kavita one of the teachers said that she never speaks in a group but could for the first time share openly. Through this discussion, the teachers said that we have realised the importance of looking at strengths. We would like to do the same process which the visiting team did to our students. Amitaji who knows a bit about SALT has asked me if I could come and train the students on SALT.”

 On email- We often need these kinds of cheering and heartwarming words to rejuvenate ourselves to actively fulfil our mission to involve communities in honest heart to heart dialogue, helping those who are struggling. We, all the members of Saathi Centre are deeply enriched by the discussion and dialogue with you all.       This insightful discussion meeting reminded me of the words of famous German poet Goethe " It is not enough to take steps which may some day lead to a goal; each step must be itself a goal"        On behalf of Saathi Centre and on my personal behalf too, I convey my deepest gratitude to you and team for taking time in a hot summer day to reach out to a community centre like us in a not so comfortable conditions.        

What went well?

Excellent introduction by Markus, we were well prepared
We asked appreciative questions and looked for strengths
We listened and did not preach or advise
We were able to encourage everyone in the host team to speak
Sudipta asked stimulating questions
Ragini took on the initiative of simultaneous translation for Markus

What we could have done better?
We could have spent more time and had deeper discussion

We could have divided into smaller groups and encouraged those who had not spoken much to share more


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