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Participants’ Stories: Developing Flexible Approaches

Jurijus Targonskas (Right) – State Fire and Rescue Service under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania

Jurijus works at the Lithuanian State Fire and Rescue Service under the Ministry of the Interior where he leads a department and is responsible for civil protection in Lithuania, including legislation, monitoring, supervision and project implementation. Before that, Jurijus served 15 years at the Ministry of the Interior, department for public safety policy.

Asked about his motivation to participate at the Baltic Leadership Programme, Jurijus recalls that at first, the name of the programme itself sounded promising to him. He expected to meet other decision makers and to learn new contemporary methods in facilitating decision making processes. According to him, this was exactly what programme participants were given – knowledge about contemporary project management. The programme, as Jurijus maintains, was interesting, even though this was not the first skills development course that he ever participated in. This only suggests the overall success of the programme – the man confirms that there were new things he could learn during the Baltic Leadership Programme.

What Jurijus liked the most in the programme, however, was the opportunity to observe the group dynamics during the course. He says himself he is an observer, and as a leader he learns a lot when being exposed to the diversity among participants from various countries, noting down both their similarities and differences in terms of mentality and cultural behaviour, learning what work language can be used with which potential partner. It was exactly for this reason that the Baltic Leadership Programme, organised for participants from the whole region and not as a course moving from one country to another, was a unique experience.

After completing the course, Jurijus suggested that perhaps such a programme should further target decision makers on a higher level. He cannot agree that in order to make substantial changes in system efficiency and working methods, a generation change needs to happen. He understands that sometimes it is rather difficult indeed to include decision makers into a programme like this one due to various practical challenges such as language barrier or even different hierarchical organisation of responsibilities and institutional management that varies from one country to another. But, he maintains, this is our reality and we need to find ways to deal with it, instead of avoiding it. We need to be flexible, to learn how to work in each situation.  This is why such a group as the one brought together by the Baltic Leadership Programme, is rather an advantage. It helps to develop various flexible approaches that one may need to have when starting the work with people from other countries and environments, in both, bilateral and multilateral projects.

As to the changes brought by the Baltic Leadership Programme, Jurijus is certain that those mainly include changes on international project implementation level. It will be much easier to get projects going especially due to the reason that project managers will simply know better whom to speak to in which country regarding a potential cooperation.

“The Baltic Sea region is not that large and cooperation among its countries needs to be promoted and encouraged. Because if a disaster happens there will be no other choice. We need to have a normal assessment of regional risk, preparedness to them. And not by one country but by the whole region in order to help one another. Contribution of the Baltic Leadership Programme in Civil Protection to this end is priceless,” – Jurijus concludes.