When I look among the "usual suspects", I often find it difficult to find role-models. Am I the only one who feels this way or is this a trend worth analyzing? Part of this feeling probably comes from the fact that many times, too many lately, the "microphone" seems to be in the hands of people who hardly deserve to be considered as a reference by anyone. On the other hand, these “messy” times force us to find different ways to manage our organizations, our economies and our societies, but most of us are so busy being perplexed that we do not find the time to become a role-model to anyone. It is also true that in these times of "excesses", some who could have played that role have instead joined the ranks of the cynics -if not the scoundrels- and have decided to focus on "individual salvation", certainly because a priori it appears much more lucrative.
Acting as a role-model in these daring circumstances seems awfully difficult... so maybe what we need to do to avoid being constantly disappointed is to stop looking in the wrong places. Since 2010, I have been collaborating with the Marcelino Botín Foundation in a Program to strengthen institutions in Latin America. The objective of the Program is to promote the development of the Region through fostering a network of highly qualified future leaders truly committed to public service understood in a broad sense. Since it started, every year 30-40 young ladies and gentlemen “pass through my hands” -and especially through my heart- and in 2019 we are planning to celebrate our tenth anniversary.
This Program symbolizes more than any other of my projects my passion and commitment for the "cause" of Public Service and represents an almost perfect union of all the "Anas" that inhabit me and of the different pieces of my particular puzzle. When I am with them, I feel totally “on a mission” and I believe that I have finally understood why:
• It is a Program whose objective is the development of both people and institutions and that pursues the economic, social, institutional and cultural development of the Region... something similar to what we were supposed to do at the Inter-American Development Bank, and that makes my macroeconomist happy:),
• It aims at identifying and developing HIPOs (high potential people), although for a continent instead of for an organization, which satisfies my Human Resources’ "reincarnation",
• It allows me to design, develop and test innovative and creative tools and methodologies for management and leadership development, and that "moves" the Executive Coach and Facilitator
• It is possibly the Program where both meanings of development (with small and capital letter) are at play, and I know that I am really working at the intersection of leadership and economic and social development. The Program allows me to work with young people who clearly have the vocation of becoming network nodes, with a potential multiplier effect and the desire to "change the world"... and that is music to my ears, more so to the part of me -probably a bit megalomaniac and for sure innocent- who still wants to change the world.
But what really makes this Program the best experience ever is that it is the best place I know so far to find role-models, since some of my young people are really changing the world in many different ways to make it a better place. They have become diplomats, mayors, lawyers, advisors and assistants to key players in their countries, project leaders in international NGOs, founders of local NGOs, researchers, professors, technical experts of their governments, active members of diverse political parties, managers of Corporate Responsibility programs, entrepreneurs "with soul", analysts at large companies, international organizations’ officers...
These young leaders are my "annual beauty treatment", they help me renew my hopes, they keep me strong and "contemporary" (and not looking to the past for solutions to the future), they force me to continue questioning my own meaning, they stimulate my mind so that it remains permeable and expanded, they keep my questions alive... and they give me the strength to keep "playing the game" and to focus on the "big agenda" in order to keep making an impact.
And that is actually the job of a role-model, isn´t it?... to keep us "disturbed" enough by what we are seeing to not look the other way and sufficiently questioned and optimistic to commit ourselves to doing something about it.