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Mod. 4.2 - Leaders Q&A

Assume you are in a leadership role in this new resilient regenerative organization. Explain your leadership model to new employees in this organization, assuming they are familiar with more traditional leadership models and organizational structures.

  • I’ve worked in both non-profits and in big corps. What are you expecting from me that I might not be familiar with?

  • What can I expect from you that I might not be familiar with?

  • I love the mission of this organization, but I’m worried about the high level of uncertainty. Can you help me feel more secure in not only what we’re doing but how we’re doing it? What are you most worried about?

  • How might I explain to my conservative relatives why this work is important?

 

I’ve worked in both non-profits and in big corps. What are you expecting from me that I might not be familiar with?

Great question. We actively work to apply the best practices of nonprofits and big corporations alike, while working to create new models that address many of the negative elements those types of companies struggle to address. Perhaps you were motivated to work for a nonprofit because of the company’s mission? We hope you feel that same motivation here and we want to hear from you about how our ongoing efforts are supporting or hindering that motivation so we can improve. Like many big corporations, we expect you to abide by company practices and values, but unlike many major companies, our community town hall meetings and feedback hotline allow our employees to express their concerns and provide solutions without fear of retribution. We believe that we are the ones who are privileged to have you commit to this effort with us, so we want to make sure that we avoid the pitfalls of classic hierarchies in larger companies which is why we have a flat-leadership structure. We all work together to make decisions and honor the experience and perspectives of each team member.


What can I expect from you that I might not be familiar with?

Depending on your past experiences, you may not be familiar with decentralized or flat leadership models. The model is framed around a few general principles that we have committed to as a company. First, trust the staff. Instead of looking at our employees as a potential cause of an HR nightmare, we explicitly trust them to do their best while they work for us. You didn’t get here randomly. You applied, interviewed, and accepted our offer to work here. If you proved to us during that process that you are a good fit, then we want to make sure we honor that commitment instead of pulling the rug out from under you with a completely different experience when you walk through the door. Second, small is all. We operate in small teams that are self-directed and work together on different projects. If you are part of a team that works well together, we want to hear about it, celebrate it, and learn from it for the betterment of all. Third, one size fits one. We all bring unique lived experiences into the workplace. If you have an insight or strong gut instinct about how to engage with something or someone, we want you to be able to trust that instinct and act on it with the full support of your team and then share it with the rest of us. We like to say “We are taught that the world is ‘One Size Fits All’ but we know that in reality it’s ‘One Size Fits One.’” If you are able to address an issue or a person individually and specifically in a way that generates a positive impact, then it’s not for us to have policies that would prevent you from doing so.


I love the mission of this organization, but I’m worried about the high level of uncertainty. Can you help me feel more secure in not only what we’re doing but how we’re doing it? What are you most worried about?

The fact that you are asking these questions tells us that you are exactly the kind of person we need here. All new companies start off with a degree of uncertainty and risk. Where we believe our company addresses uncertainty is in our belief in people. To help demonstrate what I mean, let me share a bit more about “how we work” and how it feeds into “what we are doing.” Our practice is not new. In fact, it’s quite ancient and worked for millions of people across the globe before the industrial revolution and the mass acceptance of capitalism worldwide. How we operate reflects the ways that people operated prior to our current era by focusing on the local. For us the local means the people, places, resources, and expertise that already exist in a specific area. You have probably already seen some people you know or are familiar with because that’s part of our aim. Maybe you go shop at Whole Foods because of the quality of the food, but are challenged by the expensive costs associated. But you have a very close friend who works there and so you go shop there because you get to see and support them through your patronage. That’s a very beautiful and genuine reason to shop somewhere and reflects the spirit we’ve seen in communities across the world. So what’s the problem? The higher-ups at Whole Foods don’t care about why you shop there, they just want you to keep shopping there. We believe that by focusing on local communities and celebrating the generosity of spirit that makes life in community so special, we can create renewable and regenerative businesses that not only make money, but pour that money back into the community. We do this by putting our profits into funding community land trusts, implementing participatory budgeting with full transparency that works to generate a cyclical or recyclable economy.


How might I explain to my conservative relatives why this work is important?

Well, we don’t know your conservative relatives. But we’re pretty sure they are probably hard-working people if they helped play a role in leading you to our company, so we prefer to focus on the positives, even if some of the ways conservatives apply their beliefs might not necessarily align with our values. That’s another area where we think there’s a great opportunity through this work. Regardless of one’s political beliefs and persuasion, we all live and work in different communities that help reinforce the support systems that allow them to prosper. While not everyone will see our work in the same way that we do, we hope that we might represent a model for a different perspective and application of a community’s generous spirit locally. Many of us have conservative family members who have questioned the value of what we are doing, but when we’ve invited them to come help out and volunteer by driving out to give some imperfect produce away, they’ve seen just how much good we are able to bring to people in this area. If you have family members who seem suspicious of us, bring them some fresh produce and a starter kit with our compliments and invite them to join us on an off day to see what we do. This work isn’t about political ideology, it’s about meeting the needs of the people we care about, live with, and who help make this a great place to live, regardless of economic status or political party. We all gotta eat, right? So let’s work together to make the healthiest community we can.

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