We had another great Talk last week, this time on the topic of cross-sector leadership. Thanks to all of you who made it out. It was a great conversation with a lot of energy. A summary is below for those of you who couldn’t make it, so feel free to add to the discussion in the comments. (Also, if you aren’t into reading that much, you can also check out the great graphical recording of the discussion done by Caitlin Connelly Ellsworth.)
This was the last Talk of the season, but don’t worry! We are working on scheduling a full line-up for the fall. If you or your organization is interested on hosting an UnSectored Talk on an unsectored issue, let us know.
Posts will continue on UnSectored as normal to the keep the conversation going, of course, but we will look forward to seeing you offline in the fall!
Summary of “Cross-Sector Leadership for Change:”
- The term “leader” has been so engrained into the social-change lexicon that its meaning has been diluted. It seems as though everyone is a leader now.
- A “cross-sector” leader cannot be an individual. Because cross-sector leadership implies engagement with people across organizations, cross-sector leadership with inherently involve more than one person. This has huge implications on the skills required to be a part of an effective cross-sector initiative.
- Because cross-sector leadership is about the group over the individual, this means individuals must give up their own goals and desires for the good of the work’s outcomes.
- Issues that require cross-sector leadership are mostly systemic issues, as system-level problems need collaborative work from all sectors. Smaller problems most likely will not need a cross-sector approach.
- If you are driving a cross-sector initiative through your work at an organization, you will be less accountable to the stakeholders of your organization. If you work for a for-profit, you have to focus on profit less; in a nonprofit, you will be less focused on your board members; in government, less focused on your constituents. You are in theory more accountable to the “public good” or “public value,” but since those have much more open definitions than traditional accountability measures, this could cause problems in determining the effectiveness of the initiative, as well as maintaining an appropriate level of accountability.
- There was a large discussion about social media’s relationship with leadership in cross-sector work. We concluded that social media was great to hold people and organizations accountable, but it is very difficult to use social media to “build” something. It is better used for being reactive towards a decision that the public doesn’t agree with.
- The major players in each sector are focused on maintaing the status quo, as they have benefited from that status quo. This causes hesitancy to get involved in true cross-sector work, as working across sectors will always go against the status quo.
- For effective cross-sector work (and leadership), individuals must understand the orientation of representatives from other sectors–their motivations, values, and goals. To do this, individuals must be exposed to how the different sectors function. This could start as early as high school, but there is a lot of potential to introduce this kind of education (or experiential education) in college and grad school.