Themes From The Next Normal: Lessons From The Failures of Traditional Leadership

In reflecting on some of the incredible conversations I’ve had with folks, I wanted to revisit the idea of leadership in the next normal; to dissect it and pull apart some of the themes that my guests have unearthed about what it will mean to be an effective and whole-self leader in the world that is being rebuilt in real time, as we head out of COVID.

This week, I’m looking at one question that I found myself sitting with is about the ways in which our traditional models of leadership can fail us as actual leaders.

First, in my conversation with Tene Howard and Zareta Ricks, we talk about how leadership should reflect—at its best—who we are. What moves us. How we are fueled.

In my conversation with Jill Eisenhard we explore how this so often isn’t the lived experiences of EDs, particularly founders, as they grow their organizations. If this is true – if leadership should be an expression of your values/what moves you, then why as executive directors do we find ourselves working to keep the “doors open” without actually being engaged in what made us want to start or run the organization in the first place?

My conversation with Katy Rubin explores another, perhaps more pernicious, failure of traditional leadership: the myth of singular, solitary leader out in front innovating and pulling the organization along by the sheer power of will or personality. If funding, and program success, and strategic partnerships rise and fall on the shoulders of an individual, it’s easier not to see the very real impact of race and gender and systemic, generational power imbalances and inequities on things like access to networks and how space is taken up in a board room.

So this week, and for the coming weeks, I’ll be revisiting and curating a few collections of fund conversations, all around themes of leadership. My hope is that the conversations will give you some food for thought for your own leadership.

I’m also including a short download with this episode:

You can get it at