Strong Field Project Webinar – Best Practices For Cultivating Emerging Leaders

Recently, our Executive Director, Jill Zawisza and two of her peers, Emma Owens, Client Services Coordinator at Center for Violence Free Relationships and Adriana Caldera, Support Network Program Director, YWCA Silicon Valley co-wrote and facilitated a webinar outlining Best Practices for Cultivating Emerging Leaders. The webinar encouraged participants to consider ways in which they lead at their agencies, understanding that leadership is about more than positional authority. Jill, Emma and Adriana discussed how our agencies and how we as leaders can enable Emerging Leaders to cultivate and develop their skills.

The presenters advocated for situational leadership, allowing for different people to take the lead when a situation speaks to their strengths, talents and interests. As opposed to positional leadership, where one person is ‘in charge’ of an agency and tends to dictate the direction of an organization, situational leadership speaks to greater impact and agency capacity and helps foster a positive work environment. Discussion on these topics took place in small groups with a report back portion. The facilitators were pleased to find a great deal of energy behind situational leadership and were excited to think about the positive ways future work might be impacted if situational leadership were embraced across the field. The webinar ended with tips on how positional leaders might support emerging leaders and how emerging leaders might work to cultivate their leadership. The lists below highlights some tips that were well received by the group:

Tips for Positional Leaders:

  • Build developing and mentoring staff into your work plan
  • Encourage staff to establish peer networks outside of the agency
  • Delegate projects to long-standing or enthusiastic staff
  • Discuss staff future career goals and see if your agency can help staff achieve their goals
  • Use adaptive leadership to mobilize others to tackle difficult challenges whenever possible. Addressing adaptive challenges will build up emerging leaders

Tips for Emerging Leaders:

  • Find mentors: reach out to them and run situations by them. Mentors don’t have to be employed at your agency, they can be doing similar work at an outside agency. They may hold a position you aspire to or manage their team in a way you admire
  • Talk to your manager/supervisor/ED about your career goals. Express your interests and goals, ask them to help in your professional development
  • Learn to balance your professional and personal life. This is an important step in building up your leadership capacity
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