“It’s a collaborative thing. It’s a two-way street: you grow with each other as a leader. Maybe one has more experience than the other, but it’s about sharing that and to ultimately grow together.”
— Shinnyo-en Focus Group Participant
Search Institute’s Approach
Search Institute’s partnership with Shinnyo-en Foundation exemplifies how we seek to bridge between research and practice. This partnership connects…
(1) what we’re learning from many partners (the Developmental Relationships Framework) with…
(2) the perspectives of young people (focus groups) and…
(3) the goals and values of our partner organization (in this case, peacebuilding and compassion) in order to…
(4) strengthen opportunities and practices (leadership retreats) that help young people be and become their best selves.
By Terri Sullivan, EdD
Youth and young adult members of the Shinnyo-en order of the Buddhist faith recently identified building development relationships as one of five critical aspects of peaceful leadership in their personal lives, in their temples, and in their communities beyond the temple.
A Search Institute team is working with Shinnyo-en Foundation to develop a series of “Infinite Paths to Peace” Leadership Retreats to support youth and young adult members in finding their own leadership paths. We started by conducting focus groups with affiliated youth and young adults. Five themes emerged from those discussions. Collectively, participants said a Shinnyo-en leader…
…is on a growth journey;
…builds positive relationships;
…leads by example; and
…adapts to change.
Focus group participants shared a number of specific ways Shinnyo-en leaders build positive relationships, all of which fit within the five core relational strategies in Search Institute’s framework of developmental relationships. Specifically, they said a Shinnyo-en leader…
…helps others make personal decisions for themselves (Challenge Growth);
…is kind, dependable, a good listener, compassionate, empathic, spreads joy (Express Care);
…advocates for others, helps others recognize their strengths, nurtures others on their faith journey (Provide Support);
…entrusts others with the teaching, leads with others, collaborates, is open to learning from the ideas of diverse others (Share Power); and
…connects others to the teaching (Expand Possibilities).
Activities in the first pilot retreat, conducted this spring in New York, included workshops in which participants discussed ways they live out the five Petals of Peaceful Leadership. They also mapped the important relationships in their lives using the Developmental Relationships Framework. While appreciating those who build relationships with them, one retreat participant said, “This is something we also strive to do, or strive to be [for others].”
(photos of the leadership retreat courtesy of Shinyo-en foundation)