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MAASAI warriors in the UK to share business leadership skills

ChangeMaker International in partnership with Anthony Willoughby, explorer, photographer, business consultant and author, invited eight Maasai warriors and elders to Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire on the 23rd July and the Institute of Directors (IOD) in Central London on 24th July, for a Master Class on sustainable leadership and strategy.

The event was an opportunity for British businessmen and women to learn new approaches to thrive and succeed in the current uncertain economic times. The Maasai tribe have had to develop strategies and leadership skills in truly hostile environments, where the consequences of bad decisions are not reflected in profit and loss figures, but in life and death.

In 2001, Anthony Willoughby inspired Chris Howe to visit Kenya to understand more about the Maasai. On the trip they recognised the potential for UK businesses to learn from this culture, whose strength is based on mutual respect and finding long-term solutions, rather than quick short-term fixes. Since that time they have jointly been arranging business training programmes to visit and learn from the Maasai. The participants on these programmes have come from a wide range of organisations and businesses and have all found that the wisdom of the Maasai can be easily applied to help to create an inspired and sustainable business.

Chris Howe, Chief Executive of ChangeMaker International explains the objectives of these events: "Our aim is that business leaders will be able to explore a wide range of issues with the Maasai including how their leaders develop and what is expected from them; what criteria the Maasai use to assess risk, develop strategies and make decisions; and how they ensure all tribe members take high levels of responsibility and act with pride."

Anthony Willoughby, comments, "In today's increasingly arid economic climate, companies that can think nomadically by clarifying their cattle (customers and capital), defining green pastures (market opportunities) and then focusing on getting the two together, will ultimately be more successful. This is why the lessons and the experience of the Maasai are so relevant to UK businesses and why this event is an exclusive opportunity to learn from some of the world's very best businessmen."

The events began with the Maasai singing a selection of legendary hunting and cattle raiding songs and explaining the meaning and importance of each of them. Chris Howe then interviewed the Maasai to explore various topics around leadership and sustainable cultures.

Here are some of the answers that the Maasai elders gave to Chris's questions:

They said that they:

Spend time reassuring people that they would take time and find a strategy to deal with the problem - i.e. they would not try and leap reactively to "do stuff"!
They would meet with the elders to explore options and agree the most appropriate strategies.

Once they had agreement, the leaders would go out into the community talking and listening to everyone, explaining what the community was going to do AND training people with any new skills that they might need. Their main job then was to continue to reassure people that this time will pass in the same way as similar times in the past - i.e. keep up the confidence!
One of our guests was Anna Wildman who is head of Global Leadership Development at KPMG:
"Thanks so much for inviting us to a truly excellent day, fascinating, colourful, sobering and energising all in one, just the most terrific opportunity, thank you for making it all possible".

We had considerable media interest for these events with coverage on TV and radio, the internet and in the National Press.