How Emerging Leaders are Learning

Summer turned into fall, fall turned into winter, and now I realize that I haven’t written an update about the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) on this blog since late July last year. Wow, where did the time go? For me, time has really flown because I’ve been having fun coordinating numerous events for Victoria’s nonprofit emerging leaders this past half-year. In fact, we’ve had 28 separate ELN events since August!

Before I tell you more about what we’ve been up to, let me update you briefly on what the Network is and why it exists if you haven’t yet heard of it. The ELN was designed to give nonprofit professionals access to learning and networking opportunities to help them grow into top leadership positions in the near future. Now numbering 128 participants, it’s made up of individuals generally in their mid-20s to mid-40s. Most of the Network’s members are paid professionals working in our sector, and our common denominator is that we’re all interested in leading nonprofits. We have an online “home” and anyone who meets the criteria outlined above is welcome to join us for free.

Feedback about Network events has been extremely positive. It’s clear to me from what people have been saying – and the sheer number of people that have joined – that this is a Network that is extremely needed for this demographic. Emerging leaders are using the Network to meet each other, strengthen our connections, and learn what we need to know to lead nonprofits soon. For some members with more experience, “soon” is just around the corner, especially as more baby boomers decide to retire. For other members, gaining a top leadership position is a bit farther away – but they’re building excellent skills and connections in order to get themselves there faster.

So, you ask, what have we done since July last year? Well, we’ve started book discussion meetings and held social and networking events amongst ourselves and also with current leaders. We’ve met with current Executive Directors to learn from their experiences and we’ve attended workshops to learn how best to network and craft our “elevator speeches.” We’ve talked about self-care, building partnerships, governance, leadership and management, working with boards, and standing out from the crowd. Some of our members have even become students in an Emerging Leaders Series – a series of day-long workshops (five of them, held once a month for five months) that we created with Camosun College to get grounded in all the basics needed to become an Executive Director. We’ve had dinners, lunches, coffees and meetings. We’ve started making lasting connections and we’ve learned so much with all of the different things that we’ve done. And you know what?

We’ve got lots more planned for this year.

It’s a great time to say “thank you” to the community leaders who supported the Network last year with their time, actions and words. I’d like to also give kudos to the members themselves. In our Network, “leading from the middle” is not just a catch-phrase – it’s reality. The members have brainstormed and implemented great learning events to complement what my paid role of “Coordinator” has been able to do.

Some might ask, are we emerging leaders, or are we already leading?  The answer is – both!

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