Since coining the term "Tri-Sector Athletes in Education", I have received requests to "make plain" the skills and competencies needed to make the transformation in education. Tri-sector Athletes in Education are leaders who are able to leverage multiple sector partnerships to make significant change in educational institutions, communities and the lives of young people. So I tend to switch between the term "athlete" and "leader" since I see them as the same.
Now, in the past I tended to avoid reducing leadership qualities to a "Top #" list, fearing that it will come across as too glib or anti-intellectual. But that was my own insecurity, my own concern that I would not be taken seriously in the academy I ultimately wanted to transform. As I learned over these years, if you can't reduce complex ideas into simple language, you run the risk of losing the very audience you hope to influence.
I argue that in education, context and mission are everything to leadership, that environments bring out leadership qualities in students, teachers, professors, community activists, executive directors of social enterprise organizations and college presidents, to name a few. It is only in the opportunity to lead do we really know what we are made of as leaders. The challenges we face pull on both latent as well as recognized skills.
Over the years, in the work of tri-sector leadership in education, five (5) competencies stand out: 1) Leading by Influence, 2) Patience, 3) Cultural Competency, 4) Vision and Strategy and 5) Working With and Through Others
- Leading by Influence: Leading by influence is the ability to compel others to act by modeling leadership that is aspirational, inspirational and appeals to an individual's desire to see and effect change. It's leading by example with a catalytic function. For example, I have witnessed an executive director at a large, national non-profit organization engaged in multi-sector partnerships dedicate time and resources to develop clear career pathways for her frontline staff (front line or entry level positions in youth serving organizations tend to be rife with burnout and turnover because of under-investment and are disproportionately held by young professionals of color) and inspire other executive directors in other organizations in the network to do the same. There was no mandate or grant to do this, simply the desire and ethical action of one passionate executive director who became a catalyst for others. The result had a cascading effect where partner organizations began to mutually see the importance of developing front-line staff and eventually saw less turnover and greater outcomes for young people.
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General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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