Five Oaks Consulting

Leadership development

The leader as learner: thinking out loud while being interviewed

Lynne Gilliland and I were reflecting on leadership in her series ‘Lessons from leaders’. Lynne, a fellow independent consultant, focuses this interview series on leaders in international development.

What we covered: What have I learned in my 15 years of senior leadership development in the INGO sector about the tremendous value of robust self-awareness? How do I view failure and how to develop resilience? What is the tricky but critical balance between projecting strength and vulnerability as a leader? And what does it mean to be a ‘developmental leader’? This is what Lynne and I talked about in this 24 min interview. Have a look to see if there is a nugget of value here and there. We also spoke about a sense I have: that we as civil society people are not always honest about some of the motives of why we do the work we do. Lynne called that “provocative”; I call it necessary. You see for yourself…

Now if only I did not have this annoying habit of looking up at the ceiling every time…

A word of gratitude: Lynne has been tremendously helpful to me in offering advice about how to launch my independent consulting practice, and I am grateful to all the wisdom and resources she has so generously shared with me since I started in January!

Women leading tech NGOs: what does effective leadership look like?

Many INGOs are aware they need to keep innovating in order to remain relevant and effective. The tech industry is of interest to them: it is seen to be strong on innovation and agility. NGOs are also interested in the digitization of organizations and economies, which makes them interested in tech companies.

Separately, some INGOs are increasingly focused on what we can learn from women leaders. According to some research (although this is disputed elsewhere) women may have a greater tendency to apply ‘post-heroic leadership approaches‘. Joyce Fletcher, a professor at Simmons School of Management in the UK, writes in a thoughtful way about this. I use her material in my role as senior NGO leadership trainer and NGO leaders consistently appreciate its content.

This short interview combines both topics. Lise Fuhr is the Director General of ETNO, the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association. I interviewed her about what gives her meaning when leading an industry association such as ETNO – in what historically has been a male dominated industry.

Leading mission-driven organizations in the Internet tech sector: takeaways for INGO leaders

I am experimenting with Facebook Live interviews as part of an interview series on ‘Leading with Meaning’. While at the ICANN conference in Kobe, Japan, I interviewed Jay Daley, owner of TechObscura consulting company and somebody with 30 years of experience in the technology sector. Jay and I are both board members at Public Interest Registry PIR is an organization with nonprofit status which, at the wholesale level, operates the .ORG and .NGO Internet domain names, which so many of us in civil society choose for our web presence. Fifty cents of every dollar that PIR earns through selling domain names goes to the Internet Society, whose mission is to make the Internet accessible, safe and trusted for people all over the world. The main reason why I chose to interview Jay is because of his astute observations on organizational leadership, strategy and people management. Take a listen!

Agile leadership behaviors, leading change and culture in INGOs: a Humentum SocialEx podcast interview

Agility is a much-discussed topic among INGOs these days. This is not just about how to become more organizationally agile, but also how to be more agile as individual leaders. Humentum, the NGO membership organization that supports capacity building in the area of operational excellence, and the Maxwell School recently designed a pilot e-course on Agile Leadership Behaviors which I designed and co-facilitated during the first course run. Full credits for much of the curriculum foundation of this e-course go to Catherine Gerard at the Maxwell School, however!

In this Humentum SocialEx podcast interview, Caitlin Holland, Humentum’s Storyteller, interviewed me about the core concepts behind the new e-course (which will run in April once again). We also chatted about the Maxwell School’s extensive, global experience in the development of government and NGO leadership, and my observations on a few facets of INGO culture as I see them manifested in some of the organizations I work with.

Let me know what your views are on the topics Caitlin and I discussed!

CEO succession and transition: why we should be more prepared than we typically are

Ever since joining the Maxwell School in 2003, Tosca has focused on senior leadership development in the NGO sector. During an InterAction Forum workshop which she helped facilitate, key observations on CEO succession and transition became loud and clear

Bruno-van Vijfeijken, Tosca and Karen Schuler. 2013: CEO Succession and Transition: Why it pays to be prepared for CEO transitions. Monthly Developments Magazine 31 (7), 53