Lesson III: Indigenous Leadership = Viable Transformation

Too many development organizations play around with intervention and engagement without soliciting the help of local leadership.  We have “experts in all areas of life, but if one expert enters into a foreign land, they must first posture as a learner.  

An expert farmer may enter a land full of rich soil and teach a community to grow the most luscious vegetables to eat, but if the hippos emerge from the lake to steal the harvest, then the only thing transformed is a community of hippos living large off the tasty treats.  

In order to transform, there needs to be a tremendous amount of local understanding, empathy, and connection to the real world realities and buy-in from the local community to call on.  Resilient and viable communities depend upon a mutual understanding of today and a joint hope for the future.

The Employee Parallel

Every week, a growing number of employers hear the urging for a call to action from the emerging workforce.  Younger generations want to be involved in social change.  Employers are listening, but how closely?  The emerging workforce is fueled by facilitating change in the world. Older managing generations also desire change, but have a very different way of addressing it.

While the Boomer generation has been incredibly generous, they have historically been more private about their giving. It isn’t a matter of if, but when, how, and to whom?  

Today’s emerging generations want to engage the change through their everyday life whether it’s with the dollars they spend, the jobs they choose, or the relationships or groups with which they identify.  Younger generations simply do not want to wait for their free time or designated day of giving to make change.  The world is in crisis now and they want the daily experience of their workplace to be a part of the change.  

Without solid representation to constantly inform leadership on the temperature from your workforce, your well-intentioned efforts may fuel a false sense of security in the way you implement your employee passions with your CSR efforts. The critical intersection is finding a way to listen and respond to the way employees see themselves as change agents in the world.