The 2019 Nonprofit Leadership Conference is on June 13th this year at the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota. And I'll be co-presenting two great sessions at the conference this year!
First, I'll be presenting with my good friend Erik Jacobson, donor engagement officer at Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative AND founder of his own awesome company, Lulo. Erik and I met through the iPEC coaching training program, and we LOVE to talk about nonprofit leadership anytime, anywhere. So you better believe we are going to bring all of our energy to our 8:00 am session Skip The Coffee! Shift Your Nonprofit's Energy Naturally. At this session, you'll get a glimpse of the energy levels that you have within your power to use as a nonprofit leader, and how that energy directly affects the actions and behaviors at your nonprofit organization.
After the morning keynote, I'll be back with my awesome colleagues from the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center to present our session on Navigating Systems Change at 11:00 am! We've created a session that will engage your brain and your body in what it's like to be part of complex system and help you realize your impact in that system through the way you show up. We promise it will get you thinking and talking right up until lunch time!
I'm excited for ALL of the sessions at this awesome conference. It's truly one of my favorite conferences of the year. I hope that you'll stop by these sessions or say hi if you are there!
I have to make another confession. I've recently connected with Kathy and she's become a mentor and friend to me as I am exploring working within living systems and within the realms of organizational development and leadership. I'm grateful to have found such an inspirational guide at this point in my career.
Ok, but there is much more to love about this book other than the fact I'm a fan girl of the author. Leading from the Roots offers us a different way to lead people and organizations. The industrialized way in which we work in Western society, especially in organizations in which we are trying to work on complex social problems, is doing much more harm than good, both inside and outside our organizations. We've come to view the world in a hierarchical, mechanistic way where parts (people) can be replaced and problems are solved with logic, force, and coercion, coupled with punitive policies and procedures that strip the humanity from those with whom we work with and for.
There is no better example of this than in our education system. As Sir Ken Robinson describes in this animated TED Talk, our public education system was built in a time when certain things were valued over other things, such as rote memorization over creative or divergent thinking. And the system that was created to reward certain behaviors and abilities no longer serves the students or the needs of our communities (if it ever really did). We treat students like robots who will go out in the world to perform jobs. And we rate their ability to be successful in a capitalist society through standardized testing, which acts as the dashboard through which we start to measure their productivity and potential contributions.
This isn't just a problem in education. Name a complex social problem and you can see the ways we have created machines of systems around them. And all of this leads to worse outcomes for our communities, increased disparities and inequities across the board in all categories, and exhausted, burned out people who are treated like replaceable cogs in the machine rather human beings.
Leading from the Roots says we don't have to view the world this way anymore. If we use nature as a metaphor and lead with a living systems mindset, we start to see the innate connectivity, interdependency, and reciprocity between people, organizations, and communities, and what it takes for all of them to thrive. Kathy talks about how organizations can evolve their consumptive practices into generous organizations that are multi-dimensional, diverse, and complex. She talks about the seven dynamics of living systems that we can draw on to shift our mindset:
The rest of her book describes the eight design principles nature has already shown us that can create more sustainable organizations. She wraps up the book by talking about what it means to lead from a living systems mindset and how we can create more generous organizations. Each chapter is packed with questions to consider for practitioners who want to lead organizations in a new way.
I'm intentionally not saying more about the contents of this book because I sincerely believe that you should buy it and read it for yourself. It will completely change the way you see the world, your organization, and your leadership. If you want a glimpse into what the book is like, check out Kathy's blog and peruse the amazing number of resources she has posted on her website. She embodies the notion of generosity. You can also sign up for her newsletter to have her wisdom delivered directly into your inbox each week. Kathy is committed to starting a living systems movement that can radically shift the way we lead organizations today. Join her.
I'm pretty excited about this upcoming webinar from Nonprofit Quarterly- Beyond Executive Coaching: How Coaching Can Develop the Next Generation of Leadership and Accelerate Organization Change. Coaching isn't just for executives! It's a really effective tool for leaders at all levels of your organization. In fact, it can be especially effective for people in new positions within your organization, or with teams who need support in working towards a common goal.
One of my current coaching clients is new to his position. He has more managerial responsibility than he's had in the past and he wants to make sure he moves his new team forward strategically and with confidence. He is incredibly competent and a great fit for the role, so he's just really looking for guidance, someone to ask him the right questions and encourage him to take the next steps. This is a great use of coaching that has benefits that will ripple throughout the organization.
I'm also coaching with a group of female employees who are working in a predominantly male industry. They are experiencing both overt and implicit forms of sexism, and when it all adds up, it's frustrating, exhausting, and defeating. I am coaching them as a team to draw on the confidence that they already have and claim their power. They have a vision of having their confidence vibrate through the walls of their organization so that no one is confused about who runs the place. Team coaching can really have huge impacts for the whole organization.
If you have been thinking about coaching for yourself, an employee, or a team within your organization, contact me! I'd love to talk about the opportunities with you. If you still aren't sure, sign up for this July 18th webinar from Nonprofit Quarterly to learn more.
At the 2018 Nonprofit Essentials Conference, I'm going to talk about one of my favorite topics. It's my experience that when most people think of leading from the middle, they think about how to manage up and down: providing direction and guidance to people who report to them and influencing the people they report to. There are certainly challenges of leading from that position and I totally get the desire to want to know what to do if you find yourself there. But, I actually think there is a completely different way to think about leading from the middle that can help you not just with the people that you work with directly, but about your role within the organization and with your organization's partners. If you think of your role in a networked way, and think of yourself less like a funnel between two parts of the organization and more like a hub in interconnected system, you open your perspective and perception of what is required of you from your position. So, if you are going to think of yourself in this way, what do you need to know? What skills do you need to have? How do you make change from this position? I'll be talking about all of this and more at the Nonprofit Essentials Conference! Register for the conference and stop by my session to learn more.