February 5, 2019

Action Letters, Leadership

028 Doing the Do Pt. 1 – Supporting Transformative Leaders

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Artwork by Jason Pereira

The universe sends me gifts in the form of a question I often get asked in this line of work: “Who are you to be an expert?”

The question is an opportunity to claim a piece of my self.

My favored response is something like: If I tell you I’m not an expert, then in this moment of patriarchy and misogyny, I’m relinquishing a piece of my own power. And if I tell you why I am an expert then I’m going against the very pedagogy that I believe will serve you best on your journey. I’m not here to hold something – knowledge, experience, identity, whatever – over you. I’m here because I love to walk with adults as they learn hard things and transform themselves to make a bigger impact in the world for justice, freedom, and love. 

2018 was a crucible that helped us discover the meaning of our work at Up With Community. I want to take the next few letters to share those reflections with you.

First, we have the honor of being called by leaders that are seeking to manage a transformation project for their team. This may be integrating equity into the DNA of their organization, or becoming a more inclusive community. It may look like improving their collective strategic thinking, or developing a stronger HR and work culture. Whatever the aim, they are in a position to take a big risk in their own leadership, and they are seeking a coach that can learn with them and help them grow.

Through the mentoring of incredible coaches and trainers, we’ve learned that there is no one size fits all support for leaders directing transformation projects. So, we design tailored growth experiences through 1-1’s, hands-on experiments, workshops, and experiential learning. We leave staff with increased capacity and skills to direct change projects on their teams moving forward.

Supporting organizational leaders through change ultimately requires taking risks, and that’s why I valued our conversation with Jennifer Sconyers about how to take risks in work, and, really, in life.

Oh, and here’s Johanna’s full quote that I think sums this up pretty well – “The most anti-capitalist protest is to care for another and to care for yourself. To take on the historically feminized and therefore invisible practice of nursing, nurturing, caring. To take seriously each other’s vulnerability and fragility and precarity, and to support it, honor it, empower it. To protect each other to enact and practice community. A radical kinship, an interdependent sociality, a politics of care. – Johanna Hedva, “Sick Woman Theory” (Thanks to Rob Berezny)

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