Category : Collaboration

Adaptive Learning Collaboration Interviews

Adaptive Leadership as a Reflective Practice

 

This post is the result of networks and reverse engineering! I wanted to explore whether philanthropy practitioners have used adaptive leadership, the framework developed by Dr. Ronald Heifetz and colleagues at Harvard’s Kennedy School, as a form of reflective practice. Hanh Le, who wrote a great post on Katy Perry lyrics and foundation strategy on this site, introduced me to foundation director and leadership consultant Marc Manashil, who with Dr. Linda Lausell Bryant created a variety of programs at New York University’s (NYU) Silver School of Social Work using the adaptive leadership approach. Those programs are funded by the B. Robert Williamson Jr. Foundation. I wanted to learn how this foundation came to support a form of reflective practice as capacity building, and that’s how I began my conversation with the foundation’s Executive Director, Caroline Williamson. –Jan Jaffe

Caroline: My story is pretty unique. We are a new foundation, not very big and we are a grantmaking public charity. We support programs for underserved children in New York City. That aspect of what we do is traditional charitable work and it is good work. Very early on, we began to experiment with ways to encourage opportunities for reflection and learning among the organizations we supported. Our first grant was for $300K over three years to fund the adaptive leadership work.

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Collaboration

Stepping Back to See More Clearly…Alone and in Teams

Jan Jaffe: When we first talked about reflective practices late last summer, you offered a counter-intuitive personal practice to get some distance and perspective on tough challenges: press the pause button. I don’t think this came up just because we were both lamenting the end of summer.

Ryan Chao: Well, I’m sure that played a part! It’s also about coming to know your limitations and creating a space for seeing practice in a different way. I ran a large nonprofit for eight years when I also had young kids. Everything felt like life and death. Getting some distance helped me fully show up and make better decisions at work and at home. I’ve become a believer in the role of work/life balance as key to maintaining calm and perspective at work. Not being “in it” all the time helps me to remember that I’m not changing the world by myself.

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Adaptive Learning Blind Spots Collaboration News

Philanthropists in a Hurry: The Risks of Unhealthy Boundaries and the Rush to Results (Part 2)

 

In the first part of this series, we discussed some of the rookie mistakes my team and I made when we started working to end family homelessness in the Pacific Northwest. Our impatience for impact led us to skip some of the vital relationship building and buy-in processes vital to achieving our goals. Philanthropy works through partners, but sometimes we forget that means strengthening the partnership aspects first.

What are the lessons learned from this?  First and foremost, it’s about the relationships and boundaries we need to maintain as funders.  Our grantees will always take our phone calls and meetings, and always smile and nod when we share new ideas or express our sense of urgency – even when they may not agree with our thinking and would very much prefer that we back the heck off.  Our shoe size is so large that it’s really easy for us to step on the toes of our partners; vigilance and patience is required, even as the pressure we feel to get to impact raises our anxiety levels.

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