Leadership Skills Development: Co-Creating Sustainability through Indigenous Knowledge

Leadership Skills Development: Co-Creating Sustainability through Indigenous Knowledge

Mariana I. Vergara Esquivel, Barbara Wallace, Xiaoxue Du, Yi-Hui Chang, Aurora Brito, Fung Ling Ong, Lyle Yorks, Edmund W. Gordon, Adam Mac Quarrie, Carl D. Brustad Tjernstad, Hroar Klempe, Jingyi Dong, Ingunn Hagen, Marit Honerød Hoveid, Mariana I. Tamariz, Daniel Williams, David Lauri, Rosario Galvan, Yvonne Dennis, Julia A. Morales-Abbud
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch029
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In this chapter, Vergara (2016) describes a leadership development skills methodology called “Mindfulness into Action” (MIA). This methodology has been implemented in one informal intervention and three formal research-based interventions. MIA procedure is derived from multiple sources including indigenous knowledge, and organizational learning techniques. MIA is unique in its union of these sciences and manner of application to produce changes in behavior and perception in participants. Detailed analysis of these changes and the outcomes of the interventions is provided in Chapter Mindfulness into Action: Applying Systemic Thinking. Data suggest that the MIA Methodology effectively guides participants to recognize mindsets and behaviors that are sabotaging their social and professional function. Sustained engagement with the methodology yielded changes in mindsets and behaviors that generated a higher level of function and production. Our research includes indigenous practices in developing leadership skills. The idea of using Indigenous knowledge is not new. The work of Bates, Chiba, Kube and Nakashima (2009) states that Indigenous people have a broad knowledge of how to live sustainably. In her work of western-lead teams of researchers, Louise Grenier (1998) found that their development efforts usually fail to attain their objective because they did not take in account local technologies, local systems of knowledge, and the local environment. This study is focused in the implementation of this intervention with future research students through Indigenous practices. This intervention also uses organizational learning techniques. Chris Argyris with important help from Donald Schon (1974) and others developed the strategy called action science which is a strategy of organizational development. As participants identify their unknown behaviors, this chapter will introduce the theories and sciences behind MIA. These include Indigenous knowledge, mindset, reflexivity, mindfulness, leadership skills development, and organizational learning techniques. This chapter will also describe the anatomy of the methodology and the method of administering a MIA Intervention: 1) indigenous practices; 2) goal setting; 3) journaling; 4) visualization, and 5) organizational learning techniques. We conclude describing the methodology in the context of corporate realities and interests.
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This 'leadership skills development methodology' was first implemented informally with the Kichwa Indigenous Community of Rio Blanco in the Amazon Rainforest in July 2009 (Vergara, 2015). At that time, the Community experienced the intrusion of an illegal mining company determined to deforest Kichwa ancestral lands. It is a common practice of mining companies to hire mercenaries to murder members of the indigenous population and eliminate interference. At the time, the Kichwa Community was contemplating violent strategies to defensively force the invading miners off the land. However, this intervention, in the form of the applied MIA methodology, prevented this course of (re)action and empowered the Community to expel the mining company through non-violent, legal process. By 2010, the Community had successfully expelled four other mining companies in the same manner. The Community did not previously have legal ownership of their land, but by 2011, all 45 extended families (472 people) obtained their property titles. These outcomes were possible because participants (in this case, the Kichwa Community) shifted their paradigms by becoming aware of their mental models or unknown assumptions and behaviors. The mental models of the Kichwa Community perpetuated feelings of victimization and the assumption of powerlessness in relation to western invaders. Reacting to these feelings and assumptions, they generated the sensation of empowerment by contemplating retaliatory violence. However, this was a deceptive sense of empowerment and their violent actions would only have led to unnecessary injury, death and police intervention in favor of the miners. The intervention and its applied methodology offered true empowerment by freeing them from their destructive mental models and helping them to uncover an effective, long-term solution.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Peace: Freedom out of disturbances that is serving as a mean to obtain verbal consensus.

Unknown Behaviors: Behaviors that are embedded in our subconscious that associated with the fundamental way of thinking and perceiving the social process in various social settings.

Mindfulness: Being awake and aware of the social setting. In the leadership management context, mindfulness enables leaders to interrupt the vicious cycles of sacrifice, stress and dissonance.

Mindset: Set of beliefs about intellectual abilities; regardless people may differ in their current skills levels but improve potential ability.

Innovation: Application of optimal solutions that meet requirements and collaborative ventures in corporate and entrepreneurial worlds.

Reflectivity: Decisive evidence for the capacity of humans to engage in self-conscious inquiry into their own conditions.

Indigenous Knowledge: Knowledge that involves an intimate relationship with the belief systems and that has been accumulated through a long series of observations transmitted from generation to generation.

Action Research: Research initiated to solve an immediate problem or a reflective process of progressive problem solving led by individual.

Sustainability: Capacity to endure and how biological systems remain diverse and productive indefinitely.

Transformational Leadership: Leadership approach that causes participants to become more present and gain the growing self-awareness and inner transformation.

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