10 ways to know you are a SocialChange Diva

7 Aug

I . AM. A. DIVA.

I am saying it.  I mean it.  I declare it daily.  Hell, its the name of my business.  When I give people my business card, they say: I love the name. Thanks, so do I.

When I use the term SocialChange Diva, the connection between my brain, my heart and my gut all click in unison.  People who know me  aren’t surprised that  “DIVA” is a part of the name.  It makes my soul jump up and down when they tell me that because:

I am on a mission to ignite and energize the  confidence of women to step into their leadership.

I have felt some pressure to define  and  give examples of what the  phrase SocialChange Diva means.  My early thoughts were to:

  • Wax theoretical about the definition of  DIVA which has its roots in opera.
  • Show you examples of people who I think are Socialchange Divas  in history and today.
  • Share my own stories of  life as a diva since the age of  5  when I knew I had to stand up for what I believed in.  ( Some of my causes such as- how to pronounce the word ” THE”  and what song I should play for my viola audition in 6th grade- were less social change oriented than others.  I blame Diana Ross.)

I rejected all of the ideas that I  just listed  because I don’t want to show you who is and isn’t a Diva or give you the origins of the word.  I like teaching and guiding  people to find their own  definitions and solutions.

However, since I have linked the words Social Change + Diva together I know I owe you the foundation of this new term.  So, here it goes:

10 Beliefs of Social Change Divas

1.  You know that the word DIVA is not a bad word.

2. You can lead AND you can follow.

3. You have strong opinions, take bold actions, and dream big.

4.  You can be  both proud and humble about who you are and what you bring to the table.

5. You can name other Divas that you admire.

6.  You routinely use the word ” rockstar” to describe yourself and others (and you mean it).

7. You are willing to look  fear in the face and do it anyways.

8.   You care about yourself and others equally, fiercely and compassionately.

9.  You believe in leaving everyone and everything better than you found it.

10.  You read. You think. You know.

So, are you Diva?  Its okay to whisper or to shout.   My challenge to you is to just believe it even when its scary or exciting to do so.

Yours in social change,

Ericka

p.s. Males, you can be social change DIVOs.  Be proud.

pps.  What beliefs did I miss?

Mentoring is meaningless

17 Jun

I think it is meaningless and have had this opinion for several years.   But my opinion is NOT  based on a “inaccurate” belief  that  my professional successes  have been based solely on my work.  I know that my career and leadership have  benefited from the input, advice and tough love of others.    I think its meaningless because I don’t understand:

What does “mentoring”  mean?

The word is meaningless  because similar to  leadership it gets used so often and can mean so many different things.  Additionally , it suffers from having  8 million definitions(Okay: that number may be a little inflated.)

The definition that resonates with me is ” someone who gives a sense of perspective and history, offers advice and shares contact or influence.” ~Working Across Generations – Kunreuther, Kim, Rodriguez

It is simple and hits  upon all of the major points that I think mentoring relationships( either as the mentor or the mentee) should encompass.  But it is still too broad.  I think to truly benefit from a mentoring relationship, you have to be strategic and give thought to what type of input you want and from whom.  This brings me to my second question: Continue reading

Don’t mind me, I am just leading

23 May

Lead by listening

Our ability to lead is built on our ability to observe.    A powerful way to do that is through listening. The power of listening is a deep power to have: it creates connections, it spurs ideas and it gains followers.

Listening means moving yourself out of the way to let the thoughts and ideas of others come through.  It also means allowing  them to have the space to talk while you  listen intently without the need to interject or even respond.

Throughout my career, I have been naturally drawn to those things that allow me to listen to people. It might be that I am introvert ( read: I process internally not that I am shy–see that “Diva” name above).   I also get excited from “riffing” off other people’s  ideas  and I feel most confident in my leadership when I have listened.

Where i learned

  • Dorm Advisor

Reflective listening: I remember learning about reflective listening as I prepared to take my place as a dorm advisor during college.  This type of listening urges the listener to reflect back what you have heard from the person who is speaking.  It does not mean “parroting” back verbatim their words.  That is annoying. It means synthesizing what they said and then asking them if you understood.

I wish I could say that I practiced this skill with perfection during college with the kids on my floor.  I didn’t.   I was in my early 20s ( um, who does that?).   But I remembered the theory and as I have grown older and  I have gotten beyond theory to actual practice.

The future is bright: Megawatts of Social Energy

20 Apr

In the previous post, I offered an explanations of why  social goods are the bottom line for the public sector.   In order to create  social goods, social energy and organizational capital are necessary.  Organizational capital is the everyday “ making the donuts stuff” – staff, funds, etc.   But social energy, well it is:

  • The mojo
  • The special sauce
  • The “secret” why did this turn out so well “ ingredient
  • It is a part of the social change formula

Social energy has been the driving force that has made possible every advance made in society

~Leaders who make a Difference by Burt Nanus and Stephen Dobbs.

As leaders, you want to see it as an avenue and a way for you to move your causes forward.

How is it made

It is created through human relationships.   We connect to each other. Then we connect to causes.  Finally, we combine our relationships with our causes to move social  change forward.  If we believe in the cause enough; we will maximize all of our relationships to make change happen.

Right  now, we are so lucky to have many ways to build  human relationships.  There are numerous  points of entry ( Facebook,Twitter, LinkedIn,  E-mail, and  IRL – in real life).  We can make friends and contacts through all of these avenues.  For many of us, we use these social media applications as a way of expanding people’s knowledge about our causes and also motivating them to join us.   They provide repeated chances to build a community.

Why should I care

Social energy measures the number of followers and level of participation of the commitment to the purpose of the organization and the leader’s vision.

~Leaders who make a Difference by Burt Nanus and Stephen Dobbs. Continue reading

The future is bright: Megawatts of Social Energy

20 Apr

In the previous post, I offered an explanations of why  social goods are the bottom line for the public sector.   In order to create  social goods, social energy and organizational capital are necessary.  Organizational capital is the everyday “ making the donuts stuff” – staff, funds, etc.   But social energy, well it is:

  • The mojo
  • The special sauce
  • The “secret” why did this turn out so well “ ingredient
  • It is a part of the social change formula

Social energy has been the driving force that has made possible every advance made in society

~Leaders who make a Difference by Burt Nanus and Stephen Dobbs.

As leaders, you want to see it as an avenue and a way for you to move your causes forward.

How is it made

It is created through human relationships.   We connect to each other. Then we connect to causes.  Finally, we combine our relationships with our causes to move social  change forward.  If we believe in the cause enough; we will maximize all of our relationships to make change happen.

Right  now, we are so lucky to have many ways to build  human relationships.  There are numerous  points of entry ( Facebook,Twitter, LinkedIn,  E-mail, and  IRL – in real life).  We can make friends and contacts through all of these avenues.  For many of us, we use these social media applications as a way of expanding people’s knowledge about our causes and also motivating them to join us.   They provide repeated chances to build a community.

Why should I care

Social energy measures the number of followers and level of participation of the commitment to the purpose of the organization and the leader’s vision.

~Leaders who make a Difference by Burt Nanus and Stephen Dobbs. Continue reading

Its about the Social Goods! Public Sector Leaders need apply

24 Mar

If leadership is about the bottom line, what is the bottom line in the public sector?  And how do we meet it?

A questions that met other questions and then had a question parade.  Thus a 3 part series.

Part 1- Social Goods

Ever read something, see its initial applicability  to your situation {oh yeah, this could work} but then find yourself doing mental gymnastics to try and make the information fit your situation{eh, the circumstances are not quite the same but I can probably learn something from this}?

In doing research on different types of leadership, I realize that most of them are written about  successful leaders using their respective styles (situational, transformational, hierarchical etc., etc.) to effect the private sector bottom line: profit. Because the leadership development work that I work on is the public sector , I am always forced to ask myself the following:

  • What is the bottom line for non profits?
  • Will the information that I find apply to the non profit sector?
  • If so, how do I translate it so that I can share it with people?
  • Why aren’t there more books written about leadership in the public sector? ( Wait, that is a frustration)

Social Goods:  Now we are on to something

What is the bottom line for the public sector ? If it not profits, what is it? I have been bumping up against this question for a while now.   For our sector, its about impact, its about change, its about societal and public good.

When I tried to simply replace the bottom line language- ” help increase your profits” , I was left with a really stupid statement. The bottom line would be  to help increase “your not for profits”.  That is nonsense and does not work.

Then I read a book that made it clear for me.  The book:  Leaders who make a Difference by Burt Nanus and Stephen Dobbs.

The gem of the book is that it outlines a bottom line was for the public sector the makes sense: SOCIAL GOODS

Social goods are the end, the fundamental purpose or mission, for which non profits organizations exist…

[They] are the educational, health, cultural and other benefits that accrue to society through the activities of these communities and their institutions…

… Contributions to the social good is the single most important measure of success of non profit organizations.

AHA Oprah Moment : If the public sector focuses on social goods as their bottom line; then we would need leaders who could build,  sustain and grow that bottom line. Right?  And what does that mean?

Back to the book:

Leadership effectiveness means producing a greater social good, usually by increasing organizational capital or creating and harnessing social energy… All of the things a leader does–setting direction, inspiring people, making organizational changes are simply a means to an ends.

Everything a leader does should relate back to the social good. Now, you might be wondering what is organizational capacity and social energy?  I will go into those in Parts 2 and 3 of the series.   I wanted to save us both from reading a 2000 word post.  Relieved?

For my peers in the public sector,  with a bottom line om line in my mind’s eye, here are some questions that I am now trying to use when I work with leaders:

  • What is your organization’s or agencie’s social good?
  • Can you find it? It it in the mission statement or is it in the vision statement?
  • Can you look at all of the work of the organization and see how it all relates back to the social goods?
  • And what are you as a leader doing to support it from where you sit ? (this is not a title question of the LEADERSHIP, it is a question of accountability and ownership that we all have as leaders)

I have my touchstone now for doing the work that I do, do you ?

Best,
Ericka
Next post:  What is Social Energy?

I can't change the world-My legwarmers and leadership clash!

10 Mar

Build your leadership skills so that you can change the world. That mantra expresses my world view.  And it focuses mostly on building external leadership skills.  However, recently, I was reminded that internal leadership is as important as external leadership.  In 2010, we work in a workplace where women leaders are prevalent and their leadership style is considered the WAY to do business.

But some of us are stuck in the 80s.

This weekend a twitter friend, @heidiekmassey, sent me an article posted in the New York Times entitled ” Neither Men Nor Mice” by Peggy Klauss, a career coach.   The gist of the article advises women to adjust their communication styles in the workplace.  Specifically:

Ultimately, women must be more mindful and use greater finesse when conveying messages.  We need to be better chameleon communicators and to carefully read our audience, adjusting our style to the circumstances.

That is a nice nugget of advice.  It makes sense.  And it should apply to both MEN and WOMEN.  But, when  I read it  she was only applying this advice to women.  And it was then that the time warp to shoulder pads, Reeboks  and manly suits began.  I was in the 80s’ and it was not pretty.  Simply put:

The rest of  this column  illustrates a short sighted, lazy view of the workplace that reinforces the perception that todays workplace culture is governed by men and what men want.

This is not  the movie, ” Baby Boom” where women who are  senior leaders in the workplace are still a “novelty” .   It is 2010 – women are a force in the workplace, our skills are valued as the new leadership skills necessary in the workplace and that training more women leaders is what is  going to move innovation in every sector forward.

New York Times , you let this Coach  sell women and women leaders short .

Here are some very choice snippets that got under my skin.

  1. Either you are the victim or the B*&^tch

Continue reading

I can’t change the world-My legwarmers and leadership clash!

10 Mar

Build your leadership skills so that you can change the world. That mantra expresses my world view.  And it focuses mostly on building external leadership skills.  However, recently, I was reminded that internal leadership is as important as external leadership.  In 2010, we work in a workplace where women leaders are prevalent and their leadership style is considered the WAY to do business.

But some of us are stuck in the 80s.

This weekend a twitter friend, @heidiekmassey, sent me an article posted in the New York Times entitled ” Neither Men Nor Mice” by Peggy Klauss, a career coach.   The gist of the article advises women to adjust their communication styles in the workplace.  Specifically:

Ultimately, women must be more mindful and use greater finesse when conveying messages.  We need to be better chameleon communicators and to carefully read our audience, adjusting our style to the circumstances.

That is a nice nugget of advice.  It makes sense.  And it should apply to both MEN and WOMEN.  But, when  I read it  she was only applying this advice to women.  And it was then that the time warp to shoulder pads, Reeboks  and manly suits began.  I was in the 80s’ and it was not pretty.  Simply put:

The rest of  this column  illustrates a short sighted, lazy view of the workplace that reinforces the perception that todays workplace culture is governed by men and what men want.

This is not  the movie, ” Baby Boom” where women who are  senior leaders in the workplace are still a “novelty” .   It is 2010 – women are a force in the workplace, our skills are valued as the new leadership skills necessary in the workplace and that training more women leaders is what is  going to move innovation in every sector forward.

New York Times , you let this Coach  sell women and women leaders short .

Here are some very choice snippets that got under my skin.

  1. Either you are the victim or the B*&^tch

Continue reading

Scarcity, Mysticism & "Can't"- Creative Tensions for Leaders

22 Feb

julioetcharts via flickr

You are a leader. I said it. You are a leader.  What is your visceral response to  those words?  Do you :

  • Roll your eye and grimace?
  • Sigh heavily and put your head down?
  • Thrash about as if I just tried to put a straightjacket on you?  (seriously, i hope not this one)

The Tug of War in Leadership

For some time I have wondered why leadership is both a desired and a loathed position to have.   We want it because it signals respect and a certain amount of freedom.  But we reject it because it means responsibility and accountability. It is a tug of war .

Are you caught in between the DESIRE  and REJECTION of being a leader?

In the management world, that tug of war is described as creative tension. Creative tension is THE most important part of personal mastery.

The gap between vision and current reality is also a source of energy.  We call this gap creative tension…There are two possible ways for the tension toresolve itself.  Pull reality toward the vision or pull the vision toward the reality.Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

Leadership  Creative Tensions -Scarcity, Mysticism & the word “Can’t”

Reality: People apply the scarcity principle to leadership.    The words ” gap” and “pipeline” have become all too common and acceptable to describe the current leadership situation. ” We don’t have enough” is echoed too often.

My vision:

Stop with the sky is falling, mantra.  There are an abundance of leaders working all around you willing to lead.  Are they worried about being qualified to lead? Yes.  Do they want to do a good job? Yes.  Would they like some skills and support in order to transition into this new position. Of course.  But they are here and you need to look at them.

To my peers in future leadership, I pledge to :

Show you  the chances that you have to exercise your leadership every day.  I will point out existing opportunities and I will help you strategize more  possible opportunities if you feel like none really exist.

There are opportunities to be a leader:

  1. every day
  2. at all levels of organizations
  3. in all situations Continue reading

Scarcity, Mysticism & “Can’t”- Creative Tensions for Leaders

22 Feb

julioetcharts via flickr

You are a leader. I said it. You are a leader.  What is your visceral response to  those words?  Do you :

  • Roll your eye and grimace?
  • Sigh heavily and put your head down?
  • Thrash about as if I just tried to put a straightjacket on you?  (seriously, i hope not this one)

The Tug of War in Leadership

For some time I have wondered why leadership is both a desired and a loathed position to have.   We want it because it signals respect and a certain amount of freedom.  But we reject it because it means responsibility and accountability. It is a tug of war .

Are you caught in between the DESIRE  and REJECTION of being a leader?

In the management world, that tug of war is described as creative tension. Creative tension is THE most important part of personal mastery.

The gap between vision and current reality is also a source of energy.  We call this gap creative tension…There are two possible ways for the tension toresolve itself.  Pull reality toward the vision or pull the vision toward the reality.Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

Leadership  Creative Tensions -Scarcity, Mysticism & the word “Can’t”

Reality: People apply the scarcity principle to leadership.    The words ” gap” and “pipeline” have become all too common and acceptable to describe the current leadership situation. ” We don’t have enough” is echoed too often.

My vision:

Stop with the sky is falling, mantra.  There are an abundance of leaders working all around you willing to lead.  Are they worried about being qualified to lead? Yes.  Do they want to do a good job? Yes.  Would they like some skills and support in order to transition into this new position. Of course.  But they are here and you need to look at them.

To my peers in future leadership, I pledge to :

Show you  the chances that you have to exercise your leadership every day.  I will point out existing opportunities and I will help you strategize more  possible opportunities if you feel like none really exist.

There are opportunities to be a leader:

  1. every day
  2. at all levels of organizations
  3. in all situations Continue reading
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