On 28th of March, TransformationFirst.Asia and The Water Agency organized a lecture for emerging water leaders at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Yangon. Myanmar is developing its water sector with increasing support from international partners and is keen to empower a new generation of emerging leaders for inclusive growth and innovation. Coach Wouter Lincklaen Arriëns, who is the founder and CEO of TransformationFirst.Asia Pte Ltd, shared his experiences in a guest lecture about 'Leading Change for Water – Taking a Personal Approach". The lecture encouraged leaders of all ages to learn together how to influence positive changes with a champion mindset, regardless of their position in the organization.
A diverse group of participants joined the conversation, coming from local companies, government organizations and international agencies that are currently active in Myanmar's water sector.
Water is everywhere and some people are wondering why the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 is needed specifically for water. Coach Wouter explained that the SDG for water is not enough because water intersects with all sectors of society. Therefore, effective water governance is crucial, as water is a growing challenge for people everywhere.
Although water is important to everyone, it is often still managed with a silo mentality, without collaboration. Therefore, it is important to inspire more like-minded people to pursue a career in water management and to join a movement that increases awareness and sustainable water usage around the world.
The first part of the lecture was about the quest for collaboration to lead changes in how water is managed. Some important questions were addressed like: 'How do people actually collaborate? How can people communicate better with each other? How can they build skills and confidence to become effective communicators?'
Coach Wouter shared his experience from Thailand about a dialogue between government and private sector leaders, where they discovered that the key challenge in the water sector was not water or money but communication. As government speaks a certain kind of language, businesses use a different kind of language. For example, business people don't understand when government people talk about about Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) because they focus on risk, turnover and profits in their working places. Leadership skills can help to bridge these divides with better communication.
The second part of the lecture was about the importance of using various leadership roles in collaboration, with emerging leaders learning new skills to influence change. In the 21st century, many more people can become changemakers in the water sector by learning how to play different leadership roles such as champions, enabling leaders, team leaders, thought leaders, strategic leaders, and trusted advisors.
Coach Wouter explained about the characteristics of a leader and in which situation he or she can share motivation and inspiration to others, using a toolkit of leadership skills. In the 21st century, he said, leaders learn how to collaborate across generations and position levels, using coaching and mentoring skills to give encouragement and guidance to reach goals together.
One of the younger participants shared a valuable learning point of this interesting lecture on Leading Change for Water: "Today I have learnt a lot about in-depth leadership, and the fact that leaders need to be able to change the situation, influence people, and be a guide in the process".
Check out the presentation below.