January 26, 2017

Foster new leaders for greater connective impact

Digital technology allows unprecedented opportunities to tap into people’s skills, expertise, networks and capacities to advance the shared cause. The most effective and accountable way to leverage your impact, as CEO, is to motivate and empower staff, partners or people you work with to take leadership for the shared cause. Enable and guide multiple leadership towards optimal connective impact.

1. Lead by vision – not organisation-centric objectives

Ensure that a compelling narrative of your organisation’s vision is known, understood and shared by staff, partners and people you work with. Be clear that everyone’s primary accountability is to optimally contribute towards this vision – not to advance silo assets. May Boeve, ED of 350.org argues that organisations make decisions that focus, often, on the organisation: its own growth, its budget and revenue, its liabilities, its pursuit of its mission. But for real change it needs a movement of aligned organisations and people contributing in an optimal interplay towards the shared cause.

2. Leverage impact by growing new leaders. Go beyond the usual suspects!

Offering an enabling environment for staff, supporters, partners, communities or volunteers to self-organise is key to success. Take a look at the excellent book on self-management called Reinventing Organizations. Restless Development has 16,000 Restless Development alumni worldwide connected via an online network to further their personal and professional development. Over the next years, Restless Development also plan to provide support to 250 youth-led CSOs to build capacity. The Creative Facilitation network at Greenpeace includes over 250 global staff and volunteers co-creating ideas with allies, students, donors, etc. on solving management issues, generating fundraising ideas and volunteer activities. Avaaz is a good example for building capacity beyond the usual suspects – 25% of its members are grandparents!

3. Effectively navigate the dynamic boundaries of your organisation

Carefully outline, navigate and re-calibrate the dynamic boundary between external actors and your organisation. Not every collaboration is effective and not every stakeholder suggestion is helpful. Clarify the boundaries of your purpose and adopt a succinct set of values guiding collaboration. Ensure good technology and processes to facilitate, aggregate and optimally align different activities. In Campact members can decide what to campaign on, but only within the limits of their codified value base. UAViators has formulated a code of conduct that ensures minimal mutual accountability of all participants in the network but sets most else free. Along with the technical UAV training in Nepal, they also trained people on attitude, behaviour and philosophy and the brief guidelines they had to follow. The Brooklyn Community Foundation invites 300,000 people annually to vote on 356 projects that would improve their neighbourhoods.

4. Lead by example to develop a collaborative spirit

Mirror the behaviour you want to see from others. Take transparency for example. ‘’NGOs are great at demanding transparency. They’re not so hot at providing it‘’, says the Washington Post. The first decision of Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen as new CEO of Plan International was to open her calendar to all colleagues to see her activities and schedule times without going through a gate-keeper. If you want your staff to develop a service mentality towards staff, people and partners – lead by example.

5. Know what people and partners think!

Regularly ask partners, staff or donors to rate you from 1-5 on the questions below. Add one open question for qualitative feedback. Compare results over time.

  1. Do you feel welcome to meaningfully contribute to a shared cause?
  2. Do we have the right balance of externally and internally initiated activities?
  3. Are we smart when scanning and building collaboration potential?