Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Leadership Skill for Social Entrepreneurs

The leadership definition I like is from Charlie Pellerin, former Dir Astrophysics at NASA: “Leadership is influencing people to do willingly, and do well, that which has to be done.”
Doesn't that sound like what social entrepreneurs have to do?

On August 2, I had the opportunity to moderate a professional development workshop hosted by IWE and sponsored by Fujitsu called "Cultivating Influence: How to Influence and Deliver Results". The tech-savvy panel covered a range of expertise - large corporation (Nina Bhatti - HP, Peggy Zagelow - IBM), triple-bottom-line startup Meemli (Usha Sekar) and entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and MicroPlace (Ashwini Narayanan). The panel was followed by a interactive skills building experience session led by Improv artist Susan Snyder of BATS. Some highlights:

There is no right way, nor is there only one way to influence others. Everything is a factor when influencing people. And we are, all of us, influenced by organizations, actions, people, places, events and situations at all times. Sometimes we are affected more or less by these things, but we are continually being influenced by what happens around us. So what about the specifics in the workplace?
Your job requires you to influence people just about all of the time. It may take the form of gaining support, inspiring others, persuading other people to become your champions, engaging someone's imagination, creating relationships. Whatever form it takes, being an excellent influencer makes your job easier.

* think win-win - articulate the benefit for organisation, individual, group
* self-empowerment: be self-aware; take responsibility for managing the perception people have of you - e.g. stop acting "fresh-off-the-boat"; build your "new" sphere of influence
* manage your career; manage your boss - build trust but don't be a threat to him/her
* lead by involving others in problem solving by posing the problems and asking "how"
* Make coworkers feel positive, can do empowered (e.g. through use of positive attributes as nicknames)
* make it "their" idea
* Make an abstract concept personal
* Power of education -to make a change in a belief system provide education/information
* Reposition points of view - e.g. microfinance is not a "handout" but a "hand up"
* Compliance - make others to "feel good" like a superhero especially if doing something difficult/different for them
* Create websites/images to convey "higher purpose" to get alignment
* Negotiate the detail only after "shared goal" has been established first
* think positive and use positive language - ex. organisational understanding - vs. "politics"
* Do uncover the problems but always from a "what could be a solution" attitude without blame

An interesting point about people, who use their influencing skills well, is that other people like being around them. There's a kind of exciting buzz, or sense that things happen when they're around.

Check out Peggy's blog on the subject for a personal account of the workshop.