+Acumen

Adaptive Leadership -Blog

Adaptive Leadership in Action: Addressing Cultural Norms & Giving Women a Voice

In the fall of 2013, +Acumen launched the course Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing for Change in partnership with the Cambridge Leadership Associates. This course is for anyone who wants to become more effective at leading their organization through change. Below, one of the course participants shared her story about how this course impacted her work and ability to affect change.

I work at the Department of Education in my country’s government to research and propose changes and solutions to improve the education system.

I was hired as part of an initiative to bring younger women, into the offices that had been traditionally made up of older men. While this was an excellent initiative to encourage diversity, it was a challenge because I was now a part of a group that was changing the status quo – one that had existed for many, many years. The sentiment was “You’re just a young girl, you haven’t seen the world. You have no experience.”

As a result, many of the young women began to believe that their ideas really didn’t matter and chose to remain silent; offering no opinions or ideas. I was frustrated, but found myself thinking that this was just how things were, and that you can’t change the status quo.

When I learned about this course, I formed a group with some colleagues. We were all interested in learning more about what adaptive leadership was. It was through the discussions in the first lab that we discovered that the challenge we faced at work was an adaptive challenge and that we could actually have influence over it.

Through our analysis of the key stakeholders and energetic brainstorming, we determined we’d need a two-pronged approach; one to target the women in the office, and one to target the men.

We had greater understanding of the men’s hesitation in accepting younger colleagues, and we recognized that they, too, might be feeling discomfort and uncertainty. This course helped us realize the role we could play in creating a more collaborative and inclusive workplace.

To address the challenges inherent in communicating with our male colleagues and managers, our group tested different ways of interacting with them. We knew we couldn’t just speak up at a meeting and tell them they were wrong, or that we had a better idea.

We found that we had the most success when we offered our suggestions in a humble, unassuming way, such as, “I think that’s a great idea. What do you think about this small change?” We decided to start with small, simple suggestions.

These were easier for the men to accept than strategic suggestions. The sentiments we had to communicate were, “This is your idea, let me help you with it,” rather than pushing ideas at them. Over time, as we built up more of a collaborative working relationship, the men became much more receptive to bigger ideas.

I’ve really seen a difference in some of my female colleagues. Some of the shyest women are starting to speak up more. They’ve changed their mindset from “my opinions don’t matter” and are starting to believe in their value as contributors to our work.

Personally, I realized my own potential for adapting to challenges and seeing my own ability to effect changes through taking the course. I’d strongly suggest it to anyone who thinks they have even the smallest or most stubborn challenge to address.

The next session for Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing for Change will begin in May. Check out the course and registration information here

Comments

Announcing a New Investment: SolarNow

Acumen is pleased to announce a $1.4 million investment in SolarNow, a company that sells and finances solar home systems in Uganda. We sat down with Shuaib Siddiqui, Acumen’s Portfolio Director to learn more about the deal and why he’s excited about this innovative company. [Read More]

Letter from Jacqueline: My Week in Ghana

I am writing on a return flight from Ghana. The country has not seen a single case of Ebola, yet the impact of fear is profound. As travelers enter the country, attendants screen for high temperatures. Hand sanitizer dispensers are omnipresent. Hotels and conferences have seen massive cancellations. Everywhere are constant reminders of our fragility and the strength of our connectedness. [Read More]

Six online courses we’re taking this year

+Acumen’s free online courses are a great way to learn tools that will help you develop both professionally and personally. Whether you are a social entrepreneur who wants to market to your customers or a young professional that wants to strengthen your leadership skills, we are offering six courses this Fall that will help you develop the tools, knowledge, and networks to change the way the world tackles poverty. [Read More]

Four Emerging Leaders Building the Future of Pakistan

With 60% of Pakistan’s population living under less than a dollar a day, the external narrative of Pakistan is characterised by what the country lacks; a lack of security, a lack of women’s rights, a lack of access to education, and the list goes on. What this narrative ignores are the individuals who work tirelessly to plug those gaps. From human rights to education to food security, Acumen Pakistan Fellows are affecting change through organizations committed to tackling poverty. Their work is truly inspiring, promising a hopeful future for Pakistan. Here are four fellows that are building this future for Pakistan and come together periodically to share learning experiences and grow as leaders. Through five seminars, the fellows have strengthened skills of adaptability, communication, empathy and problem solving through listening. If you are committed to creating change in your community, apply now to be an Acumen Pakistan Fellow. The deadline is 29 September. [Read More]

Acumen Partners with AlphaSights to Better Access Global Expertise

In our work investing in social enterprises that deliver critical goods to the poor, there is a substantial amount of work to evaluate each investment opportunity. A critical part of the diligence process, particularly when it comes to emerging markets, is speaking with industry experts who can provide reliable information about sector trends, market dynamics and public policy – all of which affect our evaluation of potential investment opportunities. [Read More]

DE-BUNKING THE BURDEN MYTH: IMPACT DATA GOES LEAN

Our manifesto begins, “it starts by standing with the poor.” Yet for good reasons, the sector has found it challenging to measure which customers are actually being served through social impact investments – getting accurate data on incomes is notoriously difficult and the logistical challenge and cost of conducting surveys in person prohibitive. [Read More]

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]