In 2013, our founding members started Leading for Good, a semester-long apprenticeship program for college-age young people. The Leading for Good apprenticeship gave participants the opportunity to learn innovation and leadership strategies through hands-on experience completing a consulting project for a local organization. The twist…the program included a mentorship component that connected apprentices with local, young-at-heart professionals. In exchange for mentoring a team of college-age students, these professionals received a scholarship to our Leadership C-Suite program.
Leading for Good and Leadership C-Suite allowed us to get to know amazing young people and professionals in our community. The consulting projects we brought in for the apprenticeship connected us with innovative organizations and small businesses. As our inaugural programs grew, they opened doors to work with entrepreneurs, K-12 educators and districts, libraries, museums and other forward-thinking orgs. And the more we worked with different people and organizations across the community, the more we began to recognize the connections, challenges, and leverage points that communities and individuals face as they attempt to grow and change. In other words, we got some perspective and here’s what we noticed:
No matter where you are or what industry you are in, conversations about innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, collaboration, equity and inclusion are everywhere. We are all trying to figure out how to deal with technology-driven disruption and the “network economy.” But the way most of us default to organizing communities, running organizations, and treating each other are “out-dated” (to put it nicely) and fracturing our social fabric. We all feel it, and we don’t really know what to do.
We also noticed that there are a lot of really awesome tools, processes and ideas out there to help us navigate change. So, we asked ourselves:
What can we do to support those who are trying to navigate change equitably?
- How can we help organizations and individuals adapt so that everyone in our communities gets the good stuff?
Our answer: pivot our practice and share what we’ve learned about leading for good. Change itself isn’t a bad thing, but it can be scary. And fear can lead to inaction or wrong action. We humans are creatures of habit. If things aren’t working, we double-down on the same behaviors and thought patterns that got us into trouble in the first place. When it comes to change and growth, everyone needs a little help. So, in July 2016 we accepted our last cohort of Leading for Good apprentices at LeadLocal.
Since then we have focused on working with entrepreneurs, educators and schools, libraries, and other organizations that are working to grow strong communities. Turns out this is called ecosystem building. It took almost five years, but LeadLocal found its calling. LeadLocal is a think, learn, do tank that provides support to individuals and organizations seeking to jumpstart initiatives and seed inclusive change. Our hands-on, innovative methods emerged from years of teaching and working alongside clients and partners to imagine regenerative solutions. LeadLocal draws inspiration and tools from the classroom, design thinking, lean startup, and participatory action research. Our favorite (and most successful) projects are those we co-create with our clients and their stakeholders, because tapping into local funds of knowledge uncovers situated and culturally-relevant solutions that can take root and grow.
And no matter what we are working on, it’s always fun!