Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to be a leader in your field

What does it take to move from fighting for your piece of scarce resources to boldly helping everyone who shares your goals succeed? 

I've had the honor of consulting with the FATHER Project at Goodwill/Easter Seals for the past 4 years, facilitating strategic planning, evaluation, communication, and helping set up systems for expansion. The FATHER Project continues to grow as a leader in the state and national fatherhood field. Here is some of what I've learned from them about how to be a leader in your field: 
A FATHER Project community outreach team

  1. Help your competitors succeed: The FATHER Project partners with dozens of other organizations who serve low-income fathers, doing collaborative fundraising, with a focus on building a movement to support fathers, not just to expand programs.  
  2. Think big and bold: Last year, the FATHER Project went from one location to six locations throughout Minnesota. In the next three years, they plan to partner with other organizations to serve all regions in Minnesota. The big visions have attracted many partners and substantial funding.
  3. Engage leaders from large systems and among those you serve: The FATHER Project has intentionally developed mutually beneficial relationships with local, state, and national leaders in Child Support, Employment Services, Early Childhood, and many other fields. At the same time, the program has developed a leadership track for the fathers who receive services. Now a large team of powerful former program participants do public speaking, community outreach, mentoring of other participants, and more.
  4. Cultivate and connect champions for your mission: Earlier this week, the FATHER Project brought together 100 of its staff, partners, participants, and government leaders to connect with each other and build a common vision of fatherhood in Minnesota. Each of these leaders is supported to be a champion and entrepreneur for this vision in their own area of influence.
  5. Measure the long-term impact of your work: Many forms of evaluation are a top priority for the program, including a multi-year random-assignment study that started this year. A return on investment study by the Wilder Foundation showed a long-term financial return of $3.41 for every dollar invested in the program.
  6. Do what you say you're going to do: In 2008, we completed a strategic plan that included expanding to new cultural communities and new locations in Minnesota. Unlike many organizations, the FATHER Project was disciplined and rigorous in their implementation, and have accomplished almost all of their goals.
 I'm increasingly passionate about facilitating networks of many organizations that are finding new ways of collaborating to achieve common goals. Let me know how I can support you to be a leader in your field. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

From Conversations to Transformation: The Common Key Ingredients

For the past year, I've been honored to be a part of the Social Innovation Lab Leadership Team. We held a Lab earlier this month that investigated the following two questions:
  • What does it take to move from hosting conversations to transforming communities?
  • How do we move from talking to action that makes a difference?
In this Lab, we heard 15 stories from groups that had successfully moved from bringing people together for community conversations to transformative action. From those stories, our group pulled out lessons that could be applied anytime we want to host community conversations in ways that lead to transformative action. My colleague on the Lab Leadership Team, Lecia Grossman, summarized what we learned in these 10 points:
  1. Invite the whole system into the conversation and broaden methods of gathering and inviting for inclusion.
  2. Inclusion – design event so everyone has a voice and engage participants in determining the process.
  3. Make sure to focus on relationships when designing the conversation, not just the goal.
  4. Deep listening – listening without judgment. Not holding your own answers and views as the only answer.
  5. Create a safe space for authentic engagement (energy of conversation, tone, amount of time, design for all voices equal.) And make sure it is understood that discomfort is important.
  6. Balance honesty and openness about differing opinions and worldviews. Start from a place of no winners and no losers.
  7. Create intentional frame for the conversation to take place with a clear purpose and be open to what emerges.
  8. Good questions are key to the conversation – questions that invite differing viewpoints and allow for emergence.
  9. Create urgency for the issue you are discussing. Make sure there is a common goal before acting.
  10. Make sure there are actionable steps that can be easily done shortly after the conversation.
You can find out more about the Lab and other events coming up on our website.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Spirit-Led Leadership: Contemplative Leadership for the 21st Century

Sunday, April 14, 2013 from 1:30 PM to 5:00 PM

Saint Paul, MN

There is a way of leading that trusts that an invisible force, much larger than our own will, is seeking to work through us individually and together. This force moves toward wholeness and is actively seeking to be in relationship with us. Through stillness, discernment, and reflective action it is possible to move in close connection with this force--in business, in social change, and personally. 

Many of us are drawn to this way of listening and leading in the midst of complex, diverse settings--and we hunger to do it with more integrity and in more connection with others on this path. 
We are inviting people who are drawn to the practice of spirit-led leadership to connect with each other, share stories, and learn ways of deepening our practices. We invite both people who have been on the path of spirit-led leadership for many years, and those who are curious about the idea. People and perspectives from all spiritual traditions are invited.
To start this workshop, Margaret Benefiel will draw from her books and experience to share stories and reflections about the practice of spirit-led leadership in a wide range of secular and religious settings. We'll then have opportunities in small and large groups to share our own stories and questions about spirit-led leadership. Michael Bischoff, who is committed to nurturing relationships among spirit-led leaders in Minnesota, will co-facilitate the workshop and will look for opportunities to continue supporting this network of relationships and practice after the workshop. 
Our hope is that you'll leave this workshop with inspiration, practical ideas, and new connections to move forward on your own path of spirit-led leadership. 
Suggested registration fee: $25 - $100. Pay as you are able. Your contributions will cover the costs of the workshop and support Margaret and Michael.
The workshop will be led by:
Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D., Executive Officer of Executive Soul, LLC, offers consulting, coaching, and spiritual direction for leaders and organizations. She is an adjunct faculty member at Andover Newton Theological School in Boston and a visiting lecturer at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland. Dr. Benefiel has served as Chair of the Academy of Management's Management, Spirituality, and Religion Group and has served in various leadership roles in Spiritual Directors International. Over 1,000 executives, managers, and other leaders have participated in her seminars and courses.
She is the author of Soul at Work (Seabury, 2005) and The Soul of a Leader (Crossroad, 2008), and co-editor of The Soul of Supervision (Morehouse, 2010). Dr. Benefiel has also written for The Leadership Quarterly, Management Communication Quarterly, Managerial Finance, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Organization, Personal Excellence, America, Presence, The Way, Studies in Spirituality, Radical Grace, and Faith at Work.
Margaret is a member of Beacon Hill Friends Meeting in Boston and lives in Boston with her husband. She enjoys hiking, cycling, reading novels, and scuba diving in her free time.
Michael Bischoff has spent the last four years experimenting with how personal and systemic transformation can be integrated in practical ways. During this period he initiated the Minnesota Presencing Community and the Social Innovation Lab
Michael is the Lead Consultant and Owner of Clarity Facilitation, an organizational development consulting business. Michael facilitates visioning, evaluation, and marketing with nonprofit, government, and religious organizations. He is a member of Twin Cities Friends (Quaker) Meeting. He was formerly the Director of Projects and Interim President at the Council on Crime and Justice, and the Executive Director at Friends for a Non-Violent World. Michael has a MA in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University. He lives in Minneapolis, where he enjoys biking, movie making, and playing with his two children. He's also crazy about God.