In 2010, Rinpoche asked Chris and Sydney Jay to design a leadership and management program to “bring the monks [at Dzongsar Institute in Chauntra] into the 21st century.” Based on their work with the global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Chris and Sydney designed a leadership program with three broad elements: structured problem solving, relationship skills, and self-awareness. Khyentse Foundation then sponsored two 10-day workshops for the khenpos and tulkus at the institute, in November, 2011 and October, 2012.
In 2011, the monks were planning a major conference of khenpos and leaders of many shedras in India. The basic problem to be addressed was this: How can we revise our curriculum and methodology to make them appropriate for modern times? The khenpos were able to immediately use the structured problem-solving and relationship-building tools to gain alignment in their own team, and then with the attendees of the conference.
In 2012, Chris and Sydney brought a new faculty member, Rajiv Ball, who is a partner at McKinsey & Company and a fellow in McKinsey’s Global Leadership Forum. Workshop participants used role playing to practice the skills of listening, asking questions, and asserting. Another tool they learned was the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)–probably the first time the tool was presented in Tibetan. The monks were enthusiastic to learn about the MBTI. They even built bridges and towers out of paper, to show what happens when a leader is present in a group and when there is no leader.
Sydney said, “Of all the material we presented, the monks seemed to respond the most eagerly to some models of basic intercultural differences that we presented in the first year. Using their fine-tuned analytical skills and natural curiosity, they showed a genuine thirst for all of the material we presented.”
The khenpos are responsible for teaching Buddhadharma to younger monks as well as for managing the functioning of Dzongsar Institute. They understand the advantages of using modern methods of management in running an organization. At the conclusion of the workshop in 2012, they conveyed their enthusiasm and gratitude to Chris and Sydney for training them in the best practices from modern business leadership, customized for the needs of the monastery.
In the past 2 years, the monks have learned skills in planning, team work, effective communication, running meetings, the role of trust, and much more. The khenpos and tulkus are not just open; they are very interested in enhancing their knowledge of these subjects, and Khyentse Foundation plans to continue to support this kind of training.
These skills will help leaders of traditional learning centers not only in the smooth administration of their monasteries, but also in teaching the ancient wisdom of the Buddha in a modern way to 21st century students.