For Purpose-Driven Organizations
Whether you are part of a non-profit focused on addressing a pressing public problem, a faith-based community aspiring to live out a mission of social change, or a for-profit that aspires to integrate a dual mission of generating profit while doing good in the world, you know that stakeholders in the organization need more than just transactional relationships and financial rewards. People need to do work that connects with and expresses their own deepest and uniquely personal sense of purpose. Recent research demonstrates that this focus on purpose is not just feel-good fluff; individuals who live with a clear sense of purpose report being happier and healthier than peers who lack that clarity of purpose. Purpose-driven staff are more high-performing and stay with organizations far longer than colleagues just working for the paycheck. And purpose-driven organizations are more impactful and—in the case of for-profit firms—more profitable than organizations that lack a strong social mission.
Over the course of a decade of work in leadership development at one of America’s leading non-profits, I developed and refined multiple approaches to cultivating, clarifying, and sustaining purpose at both the individual and organizational levels. The following workshops and consulting engagements are proven approaches to introducing concepts, tools, practices, and capacities with the potential to transform the way an organization understands and cultivates purpose at all levels.
1) Intro to Adaptive Leadership (90-120 min)
The adaptive leadership model provides concepts, tools, and experiences that build individual and organizational capacity to confront complex problems. Developed by Harvard Kennedy School Professor Ronald Heifetz, the model teaches us to make an important distinction between technical challenges that we already know how to solve, and adaptive challenges that have no clear answer and can only be addressed by transforming deeply held norms, beliefs and values. The workshop includes a provocative experiential exercise that challenges participants to practice adaptive leadership in real-time, resulting in a deeper understanding of the complexity of change and the central importantance of leading with purpose.
2) Adaptive Leadership 201 (90 min)
This follow-up to the Introductory session allows groups to go deeper into the theory and practice of adaptive leadership. Using the case-in-point method of teaching developed by Ronald Heifetz, groups are challenged to engage with the ideas of this model while using the real-time class dynamics as the central text of the session. Participants can expect to learn how organizations engage with or avoid adaptive challenges, how individual interventions can create or hinder change, and how leading with clarity of purpose helps both individuals and organizations more effectively navigate complexity. It’s a approach to deep learning that goes beyond simply talking about adaptive leadership by creating conditions in which participants have the opportunity to actually practice it in real-time.
3) Introduction to the Flame and the Journey (90 min)
This session provides an introduction to a powerful framework of leadership development called the Flame that illuminates the profound interconnectedness of organizational purpose, individual purpose, and impact in the world. Equally important, it invites participants to undertake a courageous journey of personal transformation to discover the essence of their own purpose, and walk the path of leading with integrity to that purpose. Developed over the course of a decade at one of America’s leading non-profits, the approach has been refined through use with tens of thousands of participants, and is the first step in the journey to building an enterprise-wide capacity to cultivate and sustain purpose at the individual and organizational levels.
4) Leading with Purpose & Wholeness (90-120 min)
This session illuminates the full depth and challenge of leading with purpose by integrating timeless and deep wisdom about human nature provided by myth. This session honors the truth that light and shadow are interconnected and interdependent. Whenever we light a flame, light and shadow spring into being simultaneously, and the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. In this session, participants are challenged to own BOTH their light AND their shadow—that dark and unpleasant aspect of ourselves that is sure to influence and undermine our leadership until it is directly confronted, owned, and articulated. This work is always as illuminating as it is challenging, and it allows both individuals and organizations to move forward with a degree of wholeness, insight, and choice that takes the ability to lead with purpose to entirely new levels. Again, this approach was developed and refined over the course of years of work at one of America’s highest-performing non-profits, and is a proven and tested approach to engaging with the shadow side of leadership at the enterprise-wide scale.
5) Leadership in Living Systems (90min)
For many years, organizations have operated with an approach that involves having Senior Leaders grapple with complexity both within and around an organization, figure out the answers, and then tell everyone else what to do. Unfortunately, the world has grown so complex that this approach is providing increasingly inadequate. In order to adapt and thrive, companies need to build new capacities that empower employees at all levels to grapple effectively with complexity and contribute to the collective organizational consciousness regarding what is happening and what changes would be most effective. Many organizations, however, are unable to operate in new ways because they are operating within the limitations of an unseen and deeply influential paradigm regarding how the word works and how change happens. Using lessons learned from years of empirical research into the nature of leadership and social change, this
session will reveal the hidden assumptions of this limiting paradigm and illuminate an alternative paradigm that opens up entirely new frontiers of opportunity for organizations eager to adapt and thrive in today’s complex and rapidly changing world.
6) The Journey to Purposeful Leadership
Organizations and communities that aspire to cultivate purpose at all levels must develop a new organizational capacity to support their people in identifying, sustaining, and living their purpose on an ongoing basis. I offer medium to long-term consulting to help organizations and communities build a new capacity to create and hold spaces that invite stakeholders to stay connected to purpose on a consistent basis at all levels The approach was developed and refined over the course of a decade at City Year, and was described as “ingenious” by Fast Company in this article in 2011. The goal of this consulting is the emergence of a new organizational capacity to sustain purpose that can continue indefinitely with no additional input or support from me.