Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rethinking Leadership

During the Independent Sector Conference the NGen fellows reported that we (the next generation of nonprofit leaders) have trouble identifying under 40 leaders that are creating social change in the sector. The fellows encouraged us to rethink how we view leaders and leadership.

There are many different ways of viewing leadership and how people create social change. My favorite way of viewing leadership is as a collective process. Leadership is not about one person in an organization making singular decisions; it is about multiple staff members coming together to collectively move the agenda of the organization forward. Yeah, the CEO might be the face of our organizations, but as next geners, we are making things happen behind the scenes, we are making our CEO’s look good.

Additionally, collective means that leadership is happening among many different groups of organizations. Funders are starting to fund these groups of organizations (case in point the Social Innovation Fund from the Corporation for National and Community Service). Even so, this view of societal change needs to be taken a step forward and recognize that leadership flows throughout people, organizations, and communities.

So let’s rethink how we view leadership and how social change is occurring in our sector. I’m really excited that the Next Gen Leadership award went to Darell Hammond, CEO of KaBOOM! because he understands collective leadership and his organization is truly creating societal change.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reflections from the Independent Sector Annual Conference

This past week I had the pleasure of participating in the Independent Sector annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The Independent Sector is the leadership forum for charities, foundations, and corporate giving programs committed to advancing the common good in America and around the world.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I organized the social media team for the NGen portion of the conference. Blog posts from these sessions can be found on the Independent Sector blog.

On the last day of the conference during the NGen debriefing session, Rusty Stahl executive director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and Trish Tchume, Director of Civic Engagement for the Building Movement project had us write down three items that we wanted to take away from the conference.

Here are the three takeaways that I wrote down:

1. Inspiration: I was truly inspired by the speakers throughout the conference and hearing their visions for the nonprofit/philanthropic sector. My inspiration is reflected in the three blog posts that I wrote for the Independent Sector during the conference.

2. Focus: Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service said something during his keynote speech that really stuck with me. He said, "We need to balance our passion with pragmatism." Many younger people in the nonprofit sector are very passionate about their work but are not realistic or focused in how they enact their passions. Patrick's statement made me realize the importance of focusing and narrowing one's passion so that it can be realistically achieved. Let me give you a personal example.

As many of you know I am super passionate about the ENTIRE nonprofit sector. This passion has opened many doors for me but it has also caused me to take on way too many projects beyond my time capacity. Patrick's inspirational speech helped me to think of ways that I can focus and refine my passion into specific areas within the nonprofit sector (that can be accomplished).

3. Action: From now on all the NEW work that I volunteer for, or take on will be related to refined passion/vision for the nonprofit sector and will focus on three distinct areas.
  1. Nonprofit Workforce: Everyone would view working in a nonprofit organization as a viable career option.
  2. Nonprofit Operations & Capacity Building: Executive directors, staff, board members, and volunteers within nonprofit organizations would freely access the amazing capacity-building/operational tools and resources available to them across the sector.
  3. Nonprofit Education: Nonprofit master's degrees would focus on student AND organizational learning outcomes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Countdown to the Independent Sector Conference

Next week (Oct. 23-36) I'll be leading the "Twitter/blog Squad" for the NGen portion of the Independent Sector conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bloggers include:

Kathrin Ivanovic @kathrinoutloud
Tera Quails @terawozqualls
Emily Yu @dcxchange
Heather Carpenter @heathercarpente
Monica Montgomery @urbanmomentum
Mike Goorhouse

Tweeters include:

Scott Beale @atlascorps
Stephen Bauer @stephenbauer
Kristin Campbell @isngen @kcambell
Rusty Stahl @rustystahl @epipnational
Maya Enista @menista @mob_org
Andy Ho @andyho
Scott Bechtler-Levin @ideaencore

Be sure to check out our blog posts at: http://www.independentsector.org/blog and our twitter updates #isngen (Main conference tweets #isconf)