Social enterprise
leadership, alignment,
and transformation

Overview

Creating conditions for organizational resilience and sustained results by:

Designing & institutionalizing business & planning systems

Recasting vision into purpose, strategy, & impact indicators

Enabling learning & fostering accountability

Improving feedback loops & increasing shared understanding

Driving solutions & leveraging contingencies into opportunities

Illuminating costs, risks, & implications

Values & operating principles

Values

  • Compassion
  • Integrity
  • Intentionality
  • Equity
  • Learning
  • Resilience

Operating Principles

  • Challenges are opportunities for continuous improvement.
  • Upstream interventions can achieve downstream efficiencies.
  • Change is learning; learning is change.
  • There is rarely a single solution or a single source of blame.
  • Goals should be means-appropriate.
  • Form should follow function.

 

Leadership Approaches

  • Spend more time building on strengths than fixing weakness.
  • Engage diverse talents, abilities, & approaches in complementary ways.
  • Compassionately challenge assumptions & confront the full implications of actions.
  • Manage knowledge so it remains accessible, accurate, & contemporary.
  • Afford people kindness, dignity, & respect; foster civility, appeal to goodwill.
  • Codify & enforce principles of justice & fairness.

About

Anna Prow

Anna Prow

Forward-thinking and compassionate, Anna Prow is committed to social enterprise results and resilience. She distinguishes herself as an executive with an appreciative approach to optimizing effectiveness through synergies within and across organizational teams. She designs conditions for groups to co-create new ways forward, taking advantage of the leverage afforded by the inflection points in organizational evolution.

When the arc of change bends in organizations, she is there to both comfort and challenge members of an organizational community in the articulation and prioritization of goals, the allocation of resources, the clarification of roles, the assessment of impact, the refinement of business and communications systems, and more. It is at these clutch points that she takes special care to achieve alignment within and between programs and core functions, field and HQ, and even partner entities. She facilitates that an enterprise’s programmatic values align with its operational values, as well. And it is at these times of shift that she creates conditions where community members can hold each other accountable for the sake of their ongoing effective collaboration.

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With a keen eye, sharp mind, and deep intuition, Anna excels at taking in what makes organizations special and amplifying their strengths. Yet she possesses the confidence and experience to compassionately challenge habits and assumptions. As a leader, she brings integrity to organizational decision-making and is sure to make room for learning and innovation.

She is often the first to establish a role or a post, assuring succession plans and giving it definition so others may follow with even greater success. From co-creating a new cross-disciplinary honors course as a high school teacher to being the first volunteer at her site in Peace Corps to pioneering new roles in six different social enterprises, Anna thrives, and finds opportunity, in uncertainty.

In notable executive positions with Center for American Progress, National Democratic Institute, Health Care Without Harm, Friends of the Earth, the Enough Project at New Venture Fund, and now as Managing Director at Campaign Legal Center, Anna brings a great deal of kindness and heart. In every role, she encourages collaboration and consultation; cohering emotional ownership of organizational aspirations.

Anna strives for alignment in her extracurricular commitments, as well. She served as a volunteer leader for the Human Rights Campaign for more than five years including service on the Board of Governors and as the 2009 National Dinner Co-Chair, where she strengthened the volunteer corps and raised over $1.5MM for their initiatives. She is seeking her next volunteer or board commitment.

Readings and Resources

Some helpful insight, scholarship, and opinion

21 Signs You Have a Terrible Boss

Smith elaborates on each of the 21 potential problems an employee can have with a supervisor and gives advice for dealing with each of them. Among other points, the survey used to aggregate these points found that approximately 19 hours per week were engaged in worrying about the boss’s opinion, 6 of them on the weekends. (Pop Psychology)

5 Phrases that Signal You’re Making a Bad Choice

A brief look at the most common excuses people make to themselves and others when making poor decisions. Morin points out that the decision-maker is often aware the decision is bad before taking it and these five phrases should be warning signs. This article is mostly referring to personal choices, but could have application in the business world.

75% of Cross-Functional Teams are Dysfunctional

Tabrizi establishes five criteria with which to judge the success of cross-functional projects, indicates which succeed and which fail, and lays out four best practices to ensure success for these types of projects. Two types regularly succeeded: those with a high level executive who had a deep interest and provided leadership, and those with viable cross-functional committees. (Management, Leadership)

A Manager's Job Is Making Sure Employees Have a Life Outside Work

Employees may find themselves sucked into obeying the unofficial and unspoken demands of their jobs, subordinating their human needs in the "martyr capitalism" that such an environment spawns. Arora and Frey believe strongly that teams founded on trust, respect, and admiration outperform teams working in a pressurized, fear-based atmosphere. And helping employees thrive outside of work is an important way that leaders can foster such attitudes. (Leadership, Management)

A Psychologist Says These Personality Types are Most Likely to Clash at Work

A very brief examination of four workplace personality types showing which pairs are most likely to come into conflict with each other. Lebowitz shows the chart Dr. Ursiny uses to define the personality types and discusses his analyses briefly. (Management, Pop Psychology)

Appreciative Inquiry with Teams

Gervase Busche discusses thoughts and experiences on using Appreciative Inquiry as a way to help teams have conversations that produce new, generative, affirming and positive images. He describes different kinds of teams at different stages of development and approaches taken.  (Organization Development)

Being a Good Boss in Dark Times

When tragic events arise, it can be very important for leaders to help manage the emotional cultures of their organizations. Porter identifies a few key ways to set the emotional tone. Create a sense of psychological safety to foster honesty about emotions and acceptance of feelings of vulnerability. Overcome the discomfort of talking about the tragedy and use it to strengthen the determination to work towards positive change.  (Leadership)

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: CREATING TEAMS WITHOUT A SELF-SERVING BIAS

Building on research from Google that demonstrated psychological safety as a predictor of team success, Behfar and Craddock investigated its effect on team members’ individual biases. They found that strong norms contributing to psychological safety — a sense of trust and mutual respect — can help reduce self-serving bias that team dissatisfaction typically causes.  (Pop Psychology, Organization Development)

Culture is Not the Culprit

An organization’s culture is an expression of its underlying structures and processes, not an attribute to be “fixed” directly. The authors detail four case studies in which leaders effected cultural change indirectly by altering fundamental practices, leading to the generation of new ideas and behaviors that ultimately reinforced the change of direction. (Organization Development, Leadership, Management)

HOW DIVERSITY MAKES US SMARTER

An already significant and growing amount of research demonstrates that socially diverse groups perform better than homogenous ones. Members of a diverse group don’t take agreement or knowledge for granted, priming them to work harder cognitively to search for novel information, consider alternative perspectives, and prepare better arguments. This increased cognitive effort, even if associated with more discomfort, leads to better innovation, problem solving, and decision-making.  (Diversity and Inclusion, Organization Development)

How Shared Leadership Changes Our Relationships at Work

Declan Fitzsimons’s in-depth case study of an organization’s transition to a model of shared leadership revealed that the CEO’s task doesn’t get easier, but rather changes from focusing on decision-making to managing shifting relationships and their underpinning emotional tensions. He identifies common emotional tensions arising in his case study and notes that bringing attention to them and managing the emotions they generate is key to successfully implementing shared leadership.  (Leadership)

INNOVATIONS ARE RARELY (IF EVER) THE PRODUCT OF A SINGLE INDIVIDUAL

Innovations emerge from the collective knowledge and efforts of organizations and social networks, not solely from heroic individuals. Fostering innovation, therefore, depends on: increasing interconnectivity to bring otherwise isolated ideas together; leveraging cultural diversity to enrich creativity; and rewarding calculated risk-taking by making it safer for an entrepreneur to fail.  (Organization Development)

It’s Modes, Not Personality Traits

As opposed to personality traits, as defined in various personality-type assessments, and which tend to pigeon-hole people into rigid categories, Daniel Goleman describes “Modes” to explain how we all are diverse people in various situations and different times.  (Pop Psychology, Management)

IT’S THE COMPANY’S JOB TO HELP EMPLOYEES LEARN

Many organizations have been slow to recognize the new paradigm of hiring based on learnability, continuing instead to focus on hard skills or job readiness while failing to adequately foster workplace learning. To stimulate such learning, the authors suggest focusing training resources on employees with an eagerness to learn; learning along with employees to nurture their growth; and rewarding successful learning with new and challenging opportunities.  (Learning, Organization Development)

Keep Difficult Conversations from Turning Toxic

A brief description of four basic types of business communicators (Visionary, Processor, Operator, Synergist) and the best ways to approach them with difficult topics. Establishes business as a communication relationship. (Management, Interpersonal Communication)

Making Good Ideas Go Viral

Modern philanthropists are increasingly trying to harness influencers, narratives, and networks to spread solutions virally, hoping that the speed of such an approach may prevent problems from becoming intractable. This organic, bottom-up method reduces the amount of control and accountability a philanthropist has, but it can be an important supplement to traditional strategies. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation details key points of their viral approach to best practices in education.  (Philanthropy, Nonprofits)

Pay Fairness Isn't Just About Teaching Employees to Negotiate

Compensation inequity, whether real or perceived, drives talented individuals away in search of new employment. Transparency about pay data is often central to any good compensation policy, as it can help correct mistaken impressions. Additionally, organizations need training to self-examine for and guard against biases leading to pay inequities.  (Organization Development)

People Won't Grow if You Think They Can't Change

Leaders who believe employees’ attributes are innate and unchangeable tend to expend less effort coaching and developing them, fueling a self-fulfilling prophecy in which poor performers continue to struggle. In contrast to this fixed mindset, leaders with a growth mindset (recognizing that people can change) are not only more likely to help employees improve but also better able to recognize actual changes in performance, something a fixed mindset can obscure.  (Leadership, Management, Organization Development)

Research: The Biggest Culture Gaps Are Within Countries, Not Between Them

Although it has long been accepted that work culture differs between countries, recent research shows that a number of work-related values differ more within countries than between them. A study conducted by Kirkman, Taras, and Steel showed that grouping individuals by profession and socio-economic status were better at capturing common work culture than national boundaries. Leaders assuming a particular work culture based on nationality may be greatly mistaken.  (Leadership, Culture)

Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure

“Resilience” is often understood to mean forcing oneself to endure hardship while already fatigued. But such a notion is odds with our biology: an already-overworked person wastes vast amounts of energy trying to return to a balanced state. In reality, the key to resilience is stopping to recover properly after working hard.  This corresponds with contemporary notions of resilience as becoming stronger after difficulty.  (Pop Psychology)

Rethinking What Masculinity Means at the Office

Although progress is being made to reshape gender roles for women and the LGBT community, cultural definitions of what it means to be a “man” remain narrow and stifling. Such definitions can preclude men from cultivating emotionally intimate relationships that they need, undermining both their professional and private lives. But although men may feel complacent by dominating the current power structure, the evolving landscape of gender roles necessitates earnest and inclusive conversations about what it means to be a “man” in our society.  (Pop Psychology)

So Apparently There are 4 Kinds of Introversion

Explores four different types of introversion rather than defining introversion as an inverse of extraversion. The types are defined and a quiz for self-definition is provided at the end of the article. (Pop Psychology)

THE BIG DIFFERENCE IN HOW MEN AND WOMEN RESPOND TO FEEDBACK

In a study of how MBA students rate each other’s competencies over time, researcher Margarita Mayo found that women align their self-evaluation to that of what others think much more quickly than men. This quality increases self-awareness and fosters learning, but it also has a downside: readily assimilating negative feedback can depress confidence and discourage risk-taking.  (Leadership, Management, Organization Development)

The Fine Line Between a Collaborative Employee and One Who Doesn’t Get Enough Done

Women inclined to be more collaborative at work are often mistakenly found by their male bosses to be lacking in achievement--a disconnect rooted in poorly communicated expectations and gender bias (women tend to get feedback from male bosses about personality rather than work results). Managers should unpack biases, be open-minded about collaborative leadership, give goal-oriented feedback, and have honest, explicit conversations about expectations.  (Leadership, Management)

The Meaning of Demeaning: Social Identity Threats and Deviant Behavior

An inclusive environment helps prevent individuals from feeling systematically devalued and can be a competitive advantage in addition to being a moral imperative. Employees who feel their social identity is under threat are more likely to engage in destructive or wasteful behavior. Managers looking to maintain employee engagement and commitment should remain vigilant against bias, which can be as subtle and unintentional as addressing a group of men and women with "guys." (Leadership, Management)

The One Word Men Never See in Their Performance Reviews

Basic charts illustrate the differences in the levels of criticism in performance reviews. Davis gives a brief analysis of the findings with specific examples. In general, not only did women get more criticism, the critiques were more likely to deal with personal/personality issues. (Gender)

The Paradox of Post-Heroic Leadership: Gender Matters

Traditional notions of successful leadership as a single heroic individual with the ideal collection of personality traits have recently given way to the recognition that leadership is instead a collective social process of the many: shared, distributed, and embedded in social interactions. But these social interactions -- the locus of leadership -- are themselves imbued with deeply-rooted gender and power biases. Through this lens, Fletcher explores some of the paradoxes encumbering the shift to the post-heroic leadership paradigm.  (Leadership)

This Hilarious Org Chart Shows Why You Can’t Get Anything Done at Work

Organizational charts are gently deflated with humor. The contrast between the organizational chart on file and the way many organizations really work is highlighted. (Organization Development)

Three Nonprofit Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

Chang’s experience with non-profits showed him that hiring decisions were the most crucial (and most regretted) decisions. He points out the three most likely problems: mixing an employee’s roles so that no part can be done thoroughly, hiring someone to “grow into a role” rather than someone with all the qualifications necessary, or hiring the only possibility from a sparse pool of applicants. (Organization Development, Management)

Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs

This is a basic ranking of the top blogs about the nonprofit sector. The metrics used to create the ranking are explained clearly and concisely. (Nonprofits)

Twelve Choices to Help You Step Back from Burnout

A basic overview of the choices people need to make in order not to burnout at work. Davis defines the 12 basic choices each person needs to make daily to prevent burnout. (Pop Psychology)

We’re Unethical at Work Because We Forget Our Misdeeds

Recent research has shown that because acknowledging your own unethical behavior at work can be unpleasant and distressing, many people cope subconsciously by forgetting the details of their unethical acts. This “unethical amnesia” was observed in a wide range of experiments and, in some cases, was found to drive subsequent acts of unethical behavior.  (Pop Psychology, Leadership, Interpersonal Communication)

Why It’s Time to Forget the Pecking Order at Work

Heffernan uses a basic experiment with chicken flocks as a starting point to describe the issues with success. Having individual achievement as the benchmark can be counterproductive as it can create competition to a degree which precludes group success. Per an MIT study, the human groups who did best at achievement had three factors:High degrees of Social Sensitivity, equal time to every member (no dominants, no passengers), women.Heffernan’s speaking style is very entertaining. The talk is 15 minutes long. (Organization Development, Systems)

WHY LEADERS SHOULD NURTURE THEIR “SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE”

Developing social-emotional intelligence is an important way to diffuse conflicts, especially in the context of a family-run business where tensions can be magnified. Vuckovic identifies key competencies worth nurturing: self-awareness (focus on personal strengths, be open to feedback), self-management (master negative emotions and body language), social awareness and relationship management (practice empathy).  (Leadership, Organization Development)

Why Some Bosses Bully Their Best Employees

Although research has shown that poor performers tend to be targets of bullying from superiors, Social Dominance Theory is helping to explain why high-performing employees are often bullied as well. Managers with a greater tendency toward "social dominance orientation" (SDO) seek to maintain hierarchies, often prompting them to bully high-performing subordinates who, in their view, might undermine their power or prestige. Rewarding high-SDO managers for developing employees rather than simply reigning over them can help reduce the likelihood of bullying.  (Leadership, Management)

WHY SUBTLE BIAS IS SO OFTEN WORSE THAN BLATANT DISCRIMINATION

An analysis of previous bias studies reveals that subtle bias often leads to worse outcomes than overt bias. Subtle bias requires the expenditure of significant cognitive and emotional resources to detect; it occurs more frequently than overt bias; and there is often little or no legal recourse. Managers seeking to avoid subtle bias should set pro-diversity goals and practice techniques designed to encourage mindfulness and empathy for other identities and perspectives.  (Diversity and Inclusion, Organization Development)

Why Training Doesn’t Stick: Who is to Blame?

Often, dollars spent sending people to workshops and seminars seem to be wasted as attendees are soon back to doing things the same old way. While written specifically for librarians, Anne Grodzins Lipow’sarticle discusses commitments and follow up methodologies applicable to any field or business that will ensure training sticks and leads to sustainable, positive change.  (Learning, Organization Development)

Workplace Stress Can Change Our Personalities

Everyday experiences in the office can shape workers’ personalities. A study of Australian workers has shown that stressful experiences like time pressure are associated with increased neuroticism and decreased extroversion. A less stressful environment was found to be linked with personality traits such as cooperation and creativity.  (Organization Development, Leadership, Pop Psychology)

Contact me

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