Discussion Questions

The big questions at the end of the book

  • Are you in relationships that matter?
  • How can candid personal disclosure—the “seven minute talk,” in ALF’s culture—change the world?
  • How can we create a stronger sense that we are all in this together?
  • How do the continued dynamics of race and class in our country help and hinder the work of the common good?
  • Does leadership have a crucial role in either contributing to racial justice or reinforcing prevailing patterns of racial inequality and exclusion? What are some instructive examples of this?
  • What is the role of leadership in a world where intrapersonal racism may be declining, even while the prevalence of structural bias is arguably on the rise?
  • Current leadership thinking and practice is strongly influenced by values and beliefs that are part of the dominant culture in this country. How can we better understand how this plays out in the leadership of organizations and institutions, and what new paradigms might better serve us in the future?
  • In a world where time seems scarce, how do we balance the need for collaboration with the sense of urgency to get things done quickly and efficiently?
  • How do you “make” time when none seems available?
  • What, if any, circumstances call for taking a non-collaborative adversarial approach to serving the common good? If there is an appropriate balance between adversarial and collaborative practices in a given situation, how do we find it?
  • How do we as leaders help communities, organizations or other groups decide what constitutes the common good?
  • What leadership capacities are needed in order to engage in effective collaboration and community co-creation?
  • How do we know when we’ve done this well? How do we know when we haven’t?
  • How do you contribute to the problem you complain about?
  • What is the role of personal work and inner development in meeting the civic challenges of the 21st century?

Questions for Senior Fellow Discussion Groups

  • What stories from other class wilderness experiences struck you the most?
  • How closely did the stories in the book mirror your own class experience?
  • How does it change your perception of the ALF network to read about the experiences of senior fellows across the country?
  • Do you believe that the country is suffering a crisis of leadership? How could the values of ALF inform our national civic debates?
  • The book identifies five core values of ALF (primacy of relationships, inclusion of diversity, dialogue and collaboration, service to the common good, and inner reflection and personal growth). Which value do you identify the most need to practice more in your daily life?
  • How has ALF shaped your community? How could it have a stronger impact?

If you have never moderated a book discussion before, here are some quick tips:

  • Open with an easy question from the list. Avoid “Did you like it?” or “Who finished?” as the first question.
  • Let the discussion roam as the group talks.
  • Ask follow-up questions from the list if the conversation starts to lag or get too far off-topic.
  • Invite people to ask their own questions about the book or a question about something that confused them.
  • Invite personal reactions.