Authentic Leadership Amidst Uncertainty

Winter is coming…. well if you’re in the North, but it pretty much feels that way worldwide, as we hunker down again and more of us are working from home… again.

Needing Camaraderie during Isolation

It can feel isolating, but on the other hand… the world has opened up virtually. This is what we discovered as we started Speak Up Academy during lockdown. And the largest need .. is from leaders themselves. Because for too long, you’re expected to have all the answers, look after everyone. But right now, you don’t know what is going to happen, and you can’t look after everyone.
How do you lead in the midst of uncertainty? 
Who supports you, while you’re expected to support others? 
How can you be the inspiring leader when inwardly you have doubts? 
You’re just as fearful as your team, but you can’t show that.
It’s a lonely place to be.

What do We Cover?

It was with this in mind that at Speak Up Academy, we designed a very special six week “course,” though it’s not really a course in the traditional sense at all. I like to think of it as an oasis of calm within the frenzy of Covid-19, economic worries and anxieties of employees and business associates. A space to just breathe and be ourselves with no expectations. This is a space where you can just be you.
We’ve structured the six sessions inspired by the contemporary mythology philosopher Joseph Campbell along the lines of the Heroes Journey.
  • We gather, coming together from our unique external worlds laden as they are with their matrix of challenges.
  • We explore our more closely guarded internal world as leaders, reflecting on our inborn and acquired styles of leading and communicating.
  • We look at how our customary patterns which have served us sufficiently in more predictable times no longer serve us in navigating the challenge at hand.
  • We explore, both “theoretically” and in the environment of real interpersonal dialog among peers, what it means to claim ownership of unguarded vulnerability and to newly lead with authenticity, connected to a solid grasp of our genuine selves.
  • We explore some unique tools and some practices that we might consider putting in place.
  • As we prepare to “return home” to the organisational world from which we came, we share what it’s going to take to embrace that vulnerability and sustain our humility and authenticity as we move into a world yearning for that grounded leadership.

What Others Say

We did a pilot in April-May. Our small cohort described receiving epiphanies, or just enjoyed the 90 minutes of being in a safe space and talking through their worries.
“While it turned out that I had the answers to many of the issues I was facing with my own company, it was unburdening to voice them out within a trusted circle and find clarity in those decisions. Sometimes you just need to say them aloud to make them real and right.
The sessions offer a safe space with no judgement, which was a refreshing experience. It is a closed community that is professionally moderated and you can say whatever you think about the topic of the day or just listen and feel the camaraderie.
Janitha Sukumaran, Founder Rantau-Golin (PR), Kuala Lumpur
“Working with people can be challenging at the best of times but with the advent of remote working new challenges have stretched our patience and tested our resilience.
Taking the course has raised my awareness of others’ needs and their challenges, how my interactions drive the way they react, respond, and ultimately, how our organisation performs. The course helps you discover the things that need to change, the focus areas for you to work on improving, and how you can go about changing organisational dynamics to deliver more constructive and stronger outcomes.”
Grant Griffiths, NED and risk management professional, Istanbul
Because this is exactly it – as a leader, you might not be able to share your concerns even within your own circle as such openness can often become a vulnerability, and may be seen as a weakness. Our dialogs revealed that we each yearn for that protected space where we can “show our cards” and let ourselves be seen for who we are – authentic and caring human beings who are striving to do well for ourselves, others and our organisations – yet are really no more equipped to deal with this current climate of exponential uncertainty than our fellow pilgrim.

Your Facilitators and Your Discovery

It’s not often you get the collective wisdom of a retired psychiatrist, Kernan Manion MD – specialising in emotional intelligence (Mindsense) and inspirational placemaker, Lee Jia Ping (Ping) who helps organisations and leaders set and live their values.
A personal add  – these are two very wise people who have themselves gone through the Hero’s Journey in their own working lives and fully understand the stresses of leaders, the darkness leaders face and the deep yearning to be inspirational and do good.

What Happens Each Week?

Every week for 90 minutes, hop onto our virtual Circle with Speak Up Academy co-founder Kernan Manion MD and Jia Ping Lee where you:
  • explore the set themes each week (you’re encouraged to read the prereads!)
  • be awed by Kernan’s feedback with his Mindsense tools and wealth of experience in psychiatry and coaching burnt-out physicians
  • share your own thoughts, breakdowns and breakthroughs knowing you are heard and validated
  • listen to stories of your fellow leaders, supporting them and feeling less alone, and
  • return to the “real world” feeling refreshed, energised and having a new perspective – making it easier to communicate with your team and other people in your life.

Register Here

What will you get?

You will emerge from the course feeling more grounded, more able to make sense of what the world is throwing at you and discover a more authentic and flexible style of leadership which your people and the world so desperately need today.
In your cohort, you’ll find other leaders with similar issues and realise you are not alone. Long after the course ends, you can reach out to them as support and offer support.
Participants get access to Speak Up Academy, with all its benefits (membership is $250 a year)

Who is This For?

You could be a CEO, a board member, in management, an entrepreneur, doing social work, and yes, even a politician – leadership can take many forms.


When Do We Start?

We start our first virtual session on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at 8am Eastern. This would be 1pm GMT and 8pm Malaysia/Singapore time. A week later when the US changes its clocks, it would still be 8am Eastern, but 2pm GMT and 9pm Malaysia/Singapore time. We realise it’s early for North America, but Ping is in Malaysia. This is one of the benefits – the diversity of Asian and American thoughts which enrich the sessions.

We continue to meet every Tuesday for 90 minutes, and include pre-reading materials, for those who like to read beforehand (or can be read later). While the course lasts 6 weeks, we know you may want to continue to keep in touch, even as a cohort. As you would all be members of Speak Up Academy, you can continue to stay in touch within the course area and organise your own calls. You might see fellow members at the weekly Speak Up Cafes. So you won’t get that sinking “it’s over” feeling once the course ends.


How Do I Register?

We are keeping the size of the circle small, so do sign up early. Our first session starts on Tuesday, October 27th, at 8am Eastern time (this allows us to accommodate Asia too).
More details and registration here.
Our course is a steal at USD799.99, excluding tax, or USD499.90 if you’re already a Speak Up Academy member.