Category : Interviews

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.

Read More
Interviews Mindfulness

Stop in the Name of Movement

 

Ever since we started this project I’ve wanted to interview Darren Walker because I admire his fusion of intellect and energy. I have wondered what tools and skills help him mobilize and manage these strengths as well as handle the inevitable struggles that come with the job. For all of us, our strengths have a flip side, and in challenging situations that’s often where true leadership lies. Being attentive to what needs to be managed in ourselves implies showing vulnerability as a leader. It’s something not usually discussed, but Darren does here. — Jan Jaffe

Jan Jaffe: Darren, how do you deal with vulnerability in your work?

Darren Walker: In these moments at work when there is a heightened sense of vulnerability and emotion, my immediate response is to stop and not get caught up in the conflagration of whatever is triggered: rage, anger or frustration. We’ve all had personal and professional experiences that remind us of the imprudence of reacting in the moment.

Read More
Adaptive Learning Blind Spots Exercises Interviews Parker Palmer

Systems Thinking: How You Show Up Matters

Jan Jaffe: Katie – Our project team has been describing reflective practice as a discipline of mobilizing and managing yourself to get to better outcomes. How about you?

Katie Hong: For me it means several things: 1) understanding that you, as an individual, are part of a system. This is true at work, in your family or as a member of your community. Recognizing what part of the system you are in – in your various roles at any given time – is important; and 2) at the same time, every individual, no matter what part of the system you are in, is powerful and how you show up in the world is a choice. That is, you have the power to either “cast a light or a shadow” to others around you and have positive or negative impact in the world, no matter what part of the system you are in. How you show up matters. Plus, as an actor in a system, you have the power to shift the system too.

This is important to recognize because funders are in a privileged position. My words and actions can mean more and carry more weight because I have influence over how resources are allocated.

I am passionate about the topic of reflective practice because I believe in the power of “self” as a tool and this is critical to having impact in the world.

Read More