The First Relaunched Co-Active Leadership Program Kicks Off in Spain
- POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 12, 2023
It was the peak of summer, with temperatures reaching 100°F/38°C. Twenty individuals arrived at a remote villa near the quiet town of Sant Pere de Ribes, Spain. The remains of a 12th-century castle perched atop the hill nearby and from the winding roads it was possible to catch a glint of the Balearic Sea.
But these people hadn’t come to sightsee.
The first retreat of the Co-Active Leadership Program is a 6-day, intensive exploration of self. It’s the first of 4 retreats, and its core theme — “Create From Self” — sends participants on a journey of discovery about their identity, purpose, self-authority, and how they react and recover as leaders.
Supported by their co-leaders and assistants, the 20 participants went to work, throwing themselves into activities, conversations, and deep reflection. The heat was no obstacle as everyone dove into this experience, their commitment inspiring.
This was the first retreat to take place since we had to pause the program early in 2020. It has returned with some enhancements and modifications, but with the same intent of offering people a transformative experience that will shape their leadership for years to come.
Kristin Hoover, one of the program’s co-leaders and an executive leadership coach, shared some of her thoughts about this first retreat and the incredible cohort of leaders who answered the call:
“While the Leadership Program was on pause, the hunger for this program stirred in the bellies of many of these participants. I’m humbled and inspired by how willingly and openly people come to learn, grow, and risk/shift. This group of participants came from all over the world and intertwined their intercultural alchemy as they navigated the varying impacts they have from how they’ve been raised or what they’ve experienced in life.”
The first retreat of the program (out of 4 in total) is very much focused on the self and the Leader Within, which learners are introduced to in other CTI courses. While every retreat incorporates experiential and somatic learning to challenge participants on many levels, this first retreat is intense in all the right ways: it’s unexpected, it’s disruptive, it challenges self-perceptions. One aim of the retreat is to help people learn and un-learn what they think they know about themselves.
Gülsün Zeytinoglu, another program leader and organizational consultant, talked about this process of discovery:
“Our program is contextually based and experientially driven, so ‘Begin again…’ was often used when our participants were diving into experiences to find the way through. Initially when you hear this ‘begin again’ from one of the leaders, it is frustrating; however, it eventually becomes like a calling-forth anchor. The human potential is infinite.”
Because the program spans 10 months, each retreat typically lands in a different season. For this inaugural cohort, the first retreat certainly landed in summer. The heat was one extra challenge to overcome during the week!
“The ropes course was the day of the harvest and also the hottest day, so it was very fruitful for our participants,” Kristin said. “No matter the heat, I did not hear one complaint as everyone dove into the work and took care of themselves by staying hydrated. We all found bits of shade from the trees wherever we could. Our front of the room and back of the room leaders also came from all over the world, and we navigated our own waters as we relaunched the program with grace and scrappiness … and a ton of sweat!”
Doing the work is a phrase that’s relevant to this retreat. This in-depth exploration of self is an aspect of leadership development that is often touched on but rarely fully given the time and attention it needs. It is not easy work — it requires openness, vulnerability, confrontation, and acceptance.
If the Leadership Program is a journey, it is not on a straight road in fair weather: it’s a mountain expedition, a swim across open waters, and, in this case, an ascent in scorching temperatures. However, the commitment of the participants to really do the work and expand their capacity as leaders was observed by both program leaders.
“I am humbled once again by the determination of our participants to speak their truth, to ask for more from life, to co-create with life force, and also to share, witness and be there for each other,” Gülsün said. “What makes this program powerful and life-changing is the ability to be fully present and engaged, to have the willingness to be living/walking manifestations of our model and really dive into the experience. We all together are growing and expanding capacity to be responsible for our world.”
In addition to speaking to Kristin and Gülsün about this retreat, we also wanted to hear from some of the participating leaders. We were grateful to get these words from a few members of the cohort about their first experience of the Leadership Program and their hopes for the rest of the program.
Sébastien Halil, Transformation Coach and Hypnotherapist:
“Ten months can seem long, and having 4 retreats in person surrounded by 20 people and 2 co-leaders and 2 assistants can seem also too much, but Retreat 1 has passed so fast and has been so intense emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually that I have no regrets. I have been truly myself, living my best life during the 6 days — and people recognized that in me. I have enjoyed every second of that incredible new adventure.”
Catherine MacGillivray-Prantl, Global Head of Talent Management and Culture for a multinational technology company:
“Two weeks ago, I embarked on the 10-month Co-Active Leadership Program, which promises to be ‘a journey of a lifetime.’ In just the first few days of our first full-on residential retreat, I can say that I was stretched and challenged, felt uncomfortable but also proud of climbing up a tree for the first time in my life and throwing myself into space!”
Adi Nevo, Leadership, Business and Life Coach:
“A week has passed since these 6 days of complete immersion in humanity, nature, connection, and love — 6 full 15-hour days of learning and leaning, working together to become as one. Crying, laughing, eating incredibly delicious foods, and experimenting in extremely creative and out of comfort zone activities. Leadership is about all that has happened in these past 6 precious days, and there is so much more to come.”
We’ve been delighted to share a little part of the story of this Leadership Program cohort, and we’re eagerly awaiting the start of more programs in the coming weeks. For these remarkable individuals, the journey continues. And for others, it’s just about to start!