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  • Writer's pictureLaura Leeson

Seeing ourselves, our work, and the world with new eyes: PJL Team Retreat 2018

As a 2016 YouthActionNet Global Laureate Fellow, Maia, PJL's Founder and Executive Director, had the opportunity to develop her personal leadership capacities alongside 19 other young social entrepreneurs from across the world.

The week-long in-person retreat was so transformative that Maia knew she needed to lead her team of young Malagasy change-makers on a similar venture, challenging them to also step away from the demands of daily work in order to see themselves, their work, and the world with new eyes.

With permission to translate and adapt YouthActionNet's resources and activities, this training came to fruition the first week of April 2018. Projet Jeune Leader team members spent 2 intensive days exploring their leadership capacities, strengths, and weaknesses, defining their sense of purpose, and learning how to collaborate effectively and motivate teams to high performance.

During a third training day, the technical team dug into monitoring & evaluation to further examine the social impact and sustainability of PJL, as well as consider how their work connects to larger systems and issues in Madagascar and beyond.

For Chrystian, PJL's Technical Officer, the most defining part of the retreat was the session on different leadership styles. "I've always been a leader - but finally seeing and understanding those specific qualities that I have, and how they relate to other types of more "obvious" leaders, makes me realize that I possess something unique and special."

This leadership style session was just one example how adaptation of YouthActionNet's materials made the training more relevant to Madagascar. The module, which uses animals to differentiate four different styles, was made much more practical (and funny!) by using creatures from the big red island. Not to mention, Malagasy generally aren't familiar with animals from the midwest in America... so Bears (with the style of evaluator and objectivity) became Chameleons, Deer (relationships and fairness) became Zebu, Eagles (big picture thinker and visionary) became Birds, Buffalo (leaders and drivers) became of all things, Lemurs! (In case you are wondering, Chrystian identified as a Zebu.)

Mihaja, PJL's newly-appointed M&E and Special Projects Coordinator, said that learning about program logic models was his favorite part of the three days. "Everything is there. You can see every detail about the program and how it's supposed to work. And you can tell exactly what we are working towards."

Another team favorite was about turning competencies into super powers. Mamisoa, a Youth Educator Supervisor, put it best: "I understand now that I shouldn't focus on my weaknesses. It's turning those things I'm good at into super powers that will take me and the organization much further."

Seeing ourselves, our work, and the world with new eyes left everyone re-invigorated and driven to get back to work pursuing PJL's mission.


Thank you so much to YouthActionNet, for providing us with the opportunity to transmit this important training to our young staff, as well as AmplifyChange, for their continued financial support of our team's capacity building.


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