9 Ways to Grow as a Leader for Change
This month, we have been putting the spotlight on leadership as a changemaker. It’s not a topic that’s usually on top of the to-do list (let’s face it, ‘leadership’ is usually not even on the to-do list!) but leadership skills are absolutely foundational for any changemaker or individual who wants to create long-term, meaningful impact in the world.
Whether it’s in relation to a team, or simply keeping track of yourself, practicing leadership skills is one area of development that has no finish line. No matter how fantastic you are at setting and achieving goals, staying motivated when things get tough, making decisions even when you might be missing useful information, or need to inspire others into action, there’s always going to be more ways to grow and stretch yourself — and your impact — to new heights!
So, in pursuit of continual growth, here’s our list of 9 Ways to Grow as a Leader for Change.
#1. Follow someone who inspires you
As much as a staying motivated without outside influence is important to keep yourself going when times are tough, sometimes you just need some extra inspiration!
Two of our favourites are:
- Seth Godin: sending a daily dose of insight to your inbox everyday (or you can hop on his blog from time to time when you need a pick me up).
- Marie Forleo: weekly videos sharing inspiration and practical advice for creating a business and life you love.
#2. Consume thought-provoking and practical content
Here’s a few ideas to get you started!
- Learning from leadership’s missing manual, Fields Wicker-Miurin
- The Power of AND, Suzanne West
- The future belongs to smart connectors, Servane Mouazan (Ogunte)
- + Solène’s list of Must-Watch TED Talks for Social Entrepreneurs
- Your Turn, by Seth Godin (this comes in on the thought-provoking side)
- Meeting of the Minds: the Social Entrepreneur’s Roadmap for Collaborations that Work, practical content by yours truly (Danielle & Solène)
- The Blue Sweater, by Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of Acumen.org
- + Solène’s list of Must-Read books for Social Entrepreneurs
- Innov8social, by Neetal Parekh
- Voices of Social Change, by Josh Shuckman
- On Leading Change, by +Acumen
- Both Skoll World Forum and SOCAP (two of the largest gatherings for changemakers around the topics of social entrepreneurship and impact investing) share videos of panels and breakout sessions for viewing online after the fact. Visit the Skoll YouTube channel or SOCAP YouTube channel and settle in with some popcorn!
#3. Practice Telling Your Story
As with most things, the best learning comes from doing. It’s amazing how much clarity you gain around what you stand for, and the difference you hope to make in the world, when you practice writing or speaking and sharing it publicly.
Get started telling your story with a blog (medium.com is a great platform to get started fast and for free). Or, you can offer to do a presentation to a group who can benefit in your community (perhaps at your local university for students, or at an upcoming charity event?).
If you’re worried that you don’t have anything meaningful to say, follow a tip from Seth Godin who says, “no one I know gets talker’s block” so write how you talk and you’ll never run out of things to share!
Bonus points: Talk publicly about your failures. Enough said.
#4. Join a free open community online.
There are tons of great open communities popping up online for Changemakers and Social Entrepreneurs.
Some of the most active groups in this space are:
- Under 30 Changemakers (I’m over 30 and haven’t been kicked out yet ;) )
- Global Social Entrepreneurs Lab (the group that inspired us to eventually form Changemakers Association!)
- Global Social Entrepreneurial Hub (over 10k members!)
#5. Host a gathering in your city
Use a platform like Meetup.com to organize and host a get-together for people to meet and discuss a topic related to the change you wish to see in the world. You could simply gather for food/drinks, you could put together a small panel to answer the group’s questions, or you could invite someone to do a short presentation.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even organize a Failure Wake where local entrepreneurs and changemakers can talk openly about the times things didn’t go as planned.
#6. Join a co-working space
Some of the best collaborations, conversations, and insights come from unexpected collisions with people from different backgrounds. If you work on your own, or in a small team, it can super valuable to join a co-working space and work alongside other entrepreneurs. You never know what you’ll discover or create when you’re hanging out in the kitchen while your coffee brews!
With rising numbers of freelancers and entrepreneurs, most urban centres have one or a few co-working spaces these days. If you’re really lucky, your city might even have a co-working space designed especially for bringing changemakers together, like Centre for Social Innovation (Toronto, New York) or Impact HUB (several cities around the world).
#7. Invest in alternative learning purpose-built for Changemakers
There is a growing number of incubator/accelerator-style learning opportunities out there these days. Problem is, they aren’t readily accessible to most aspiring or current social entrepreneurs. There can be steep competition to get in, and/or you have be in the right city to participate in person.
So if you’re looking to invest in learning that is perhaps more accessible, here are two worthwhile options to consider:
- Seth Godin’s Alt MBA: Although there is an application process, the program’s design is such that if you’re up for the work (it won’t be a walk in the park!)— they will take you. The AltMBA is virtual, but runs in real-time. That means location won’t be a hindrance, but you still get the benefits of feeling like you’re in a ‘live’ program.
- Changemakers Association (hosted by yours truly again!) Changemakers Association is a membership learning community designed for social entrepreneurs, by social entrepreneurs (Solène & Danielle). It is an affordable way to:
- learn new skills with a new changemaker-focused training module released every month,
- connect with like-minded community thanks to a private community of changemakers from 10+ countries around the world,
- and grow as a leader with monthly ‘hot-seat’ mentoring calls.
#8. Invest time into free learning opportunities purpose-built for Changemakers
Now more than ever before, there are new free learning resources and courses built especially for Changemakers too!
+Acumen, an initiative of the impact investment fund Acumen.org, has an impressive library of free MOOC’s designed specifically for social entrepreneurs. Their courses range from covering the basics (Social Entrepreneurship 101) to practical operations (Human Centred Design) and financial acumen (Lean Data Approaches to Measure Social Impact) among many others.
#9. Do something that scares you
This one doesn’t need much explaining… Doing things that push yourself out of your comfort zone are always good for growing your leadership skills!
Short on ideas? Here’s some to get you thinking:
- Ask a someone you admire for coffee,
- Get visible on social media by posting your latest blog post, or doing a Facebook Live,
- Go to the next meeting for your local community association and share something you would like to see happen,
- Say yes to something before you have it fully figured out, and trust you’ll make it happen,
- Something else that you know would be amazing, but gets you a bit nervous!
That’s all for now.
But I’m sure you realize, this is just a snapshot of all the amazing ways you can continually grow as a leader. So we’d love to hear from you in the comments too!