Charity Police

Philanthropic organizations are increasingly demanding that grantees measure impact. It is not the measuring of impact to which I object, it is the way this expectation is unidirectionally communicated and enforced. This paternalistic practice is an abuse of power that emphasizes control and containment over partnership and possibilities.

The MacArthur Fellows Program is an amazing example of trusting philanthropy (and I hope to be one someday!). Grantees are selected according to their contributions and are then trusted to make decisions about the best use of the funds; reports are not required. As a teacher, I take a similar approach with my students in the community or online setting. I expect students to take what we learn in class and to use it to the best of their ability in their context. My hope is to inspire change that can’t be captured in numbers or even words, and to provoke changes that are multiplicative.

With trust and freedom, great things will happen. Let’s share with each other out of love rather than fear.

Community Cooptation

The nonprofit/community benefit/social change sector has coopted much from business organizations, and the pressure to do so is increasing from many foundations and professional associations. In my experience, the business models that are appropriated are outdated and a poor fit for our sector. We are victimizing and marginalizing our community organizations through this practice; we are also limiting our ability to provoke meaningful and sustainable change. Rather than us borrow from business, I think business should listen and learn from us. Not because we demand it, or because we attach contingencies to it, but because there is an opportunity for mutual learning and growth. Perhaps by coming together intentionally we can envision new models of organizations that will truly transform our world.

Manage Things, Not People

As leaders, we often also have management responsibilities. I think it is important to remember that we should manage things rather than people.

We can manage money, time, processes, and projects so that our goals and objectives are achieved.   Interactions with other people on the team should consist of guidance, support, encouragement, and access to information and resources. It is not usually necessary to tell others what to do or how to do it; however, agreements about behavior can be developed through dialogue. Shifting management from people to things keeps us focused on our goals; it challenges us to always think of process and project outcomes rather than the minutiae of specific activities. It also creates space for freedom of expression, creativity, and innovation.

I have also found that some people have been conditioned to desire specific direction in their work. Others may not be a good fit for their job or the organization and therefore detailed instructions, if not termination, are required. By getting to know each individual employee, we can determine how to best support and lead each person so that they can realize both their human potential and organizational goals.

The Bridge

Antonio Machado said that the “road is made by walking.” To that, I add that the bridge is made by leaping. By leaping into the exhilarating freedom of the unknown, all things are possible. Risking the safety of recognized territory and soaring into the mysteries of ambiguity can connect, harmonize, and unify disparate ideas, people, and groups.

Awakening and Becoming

The process of personal growth is both awakening and becoming.

Awakening is the process of connecting with our purpose and passion. It is both spiritual and psychological. It is internal and eternal.

Becoming is the process of integrating our soul’s deepest desires–our purpose and our passion–with our everyday thoughts and actions. It is experiential and external.

The more we awaken, the more we can become. The more we become, the more we can awaken.

This idea can be applied to organizational development as well. Awakening is the process of discovering and articulating the organization’s highest purpose and vision. Becoming is the process of bringing that purpose and vision to life through action.

Three New Leadership Books from The Fruition Coalition

The Fruition Coalition has three new leadership books available: Affirmations for Mindful Leaders, Limitless Loving Leadership, and Incandescent Leadership. All three books have been designed to expand the awareness and strengthen the effectiveness of leaders in all fields. These books are available in print or as eBooks at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/fruitioncoalition.

Affirmations for Mindful Leaders (ISBN 978-1-300-65919-8, 76 pages, $9.99) is a collection of 50 affirmations for leaders who are mindful, ethical, intentional, authentic, and transformational. The affirmations span ten areas: vision; purpose; passion; power; relationships; innovation; risk; responsibility; balance; and transformation. Each affirmation has been carefully designed to help leaders feel more motivated, inspired, purposeful, and connected.

Limitless Loving Leadership (ISBN 978-1-300-65933-4, 92 pages, $12.99) is a collection of essays that explore the intersections of personal and professional life. Author Jessica R. Dreistadt examines some of her life and leadership experiences to reveal lessons about humility, authenticity, appreciation, flexibility, intention, trust, and wisdom. The original 2009 essays from The Activist’s Muse are updated with renewed insights and reflections. Each section also includes reflection questions for readers.

Incandescent Leadership (ISBN 978-1-300-65928-0 , 80 pages, $12.99) is a workbook that helps leaders become more warm, bright, and clear. This book presents a model of leadership, but more importantly it is also process of structured self-discovery through which readers can identify and build upon their distinctive radiance and brilliance. Brief statements and focused questions help readers explore ten areas: purpose, becoming, connection, compassion, energy, wisdom, inspiration, responsiveness, creativity, and transformation.

Check back over the next three days for excerpts from each book.