As Independent Sector President and CEO Dan Cardinali said during the first Upswell Pop-Up of 2022, “Whether it is activism, meeting systemic community needs, or stepping up into crisis, we have chosen paths where our success is tied to others’ wellbeing. But how do we find what we need to support our own wellness as we care for our communities, deal with anxiety of the world around us, manage our families, and handle collective grief?”
That was the focus of the April 26 Upswell Pop-Up, “Recharge. Refuel. Refocus.” It took on the importance of prioritizing self-care, particularly for nonprofit changemakers whose focus is strengthening communities and the lives of those who live there as part of their missions to tackle the challenges of building a healthy sector and nation where all can thrive.
The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), an Independent Sector member, is among the sponsors of 2022 Upswell events. CCL’s mission is to advance the understanding, practice, and development of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide. CCL strives to make the world a better place through more effective leadership.
Brook Wingate, CCL’s Director of Development & Alumni Relations, co-facilitated the Pop-Up Exchange, where participants shared thoughts about what they heard and what resonated with them. We talked with Brook about her reflections on the Pop-Up and her experience as co-facilitator.
IS: As a co-facilitator for our first Upswell Pop-Up, you spoke directly with attendees and encouraged them to share their thoughts on what they heard during the Main Stage and workshops. Tell us a little about your background and the experiences you’ve had that have shaped your skills as a facilitator.
BW: I truly enjoyed the opportunity to meet and hear from the Exchange participants. I find that I always learn so much when facilitating! I’ve served in nonprofit leadership for more than 20 years because I love to work with teams and communities to create positive change. What drew me to CCL is our human-centered approach to leadership. Being a good facilitator means you listen for, draw out, and learn from what makes each person unique. Everyone has a valuable and important story to tell, and it is a privilege to play a small part in bringing those unique stories to light.
IS: The Upswell Pop-Up topic focused on the burnout that nonprofit changemakers can experience as they serve people and their communities, and why it is so necessary to focus on self-care to “refill our cups.” Have you found that this has always been an issue in our sector, or has it been exacerbated by the stress of the pandemic, and resulting expansion of the needs of communities?
BW: I think it’s both – burnout has been a chronic issue, and it was also exacerbated by the pandemic. As nonprofit leaders, we choose this work because we believe in it with all our being. It will always be hard for us not to give everything we have to our missions and communities. But to sustain that high level of service, we must bring the same commitment we give to others to care for ourselves. And we need leaders at all levels to fully embrace self-care, both by modeling it themselves, and creating systems that support it.
IS: Tell us about any “a-ha” moments you had as participants shared their thoughts about what they heard during the Pop-Up.
BW: It’s tough to choose because there are so many! One participant shared that her organization has 1-to-1 meetings that cannot be about tasks; instead, they are only about the person. The conversations focus on stress levels, how they are feeling at home and work, and save all the tasks discussions for other meetings. I thought that was an excellent way to model self-care and implement simple but effective systems to support it.
IS: CCL’s mission talks about “lifting leaders who lift the world.” Independent Sector also has a focus on addressing the adaptive nature of leading in these uncertain times, and works to support emerging leaders and strengthen their individual and collective leadership capacity. Can you provide us with a brief overview of CCL’s core leadership programs and services?
BW: CCL was one of the first organizations to say that leaders are made, not born, and that leadership is not exclusive to those with positional power. CCL believes that leadership is a result of people working together with what we call direction-alignment-commitment. We provide leadership development for people at all stages of their career with both open-enrollment and custom programs. We are research and evidence-based with a human-centric approach that honors the unique experience, skills, backgrounds, and careers of participants from the social sector, education, health, and corporate arenas. Our mission is to further the development and advancement of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide.
IS: What is it about the state of our nation and the world today that makes this focus on leadership, particularly in the nonprofit sector, more important than ever?
BW: Sometimes, we fall victim to the thought that leaders are the people we see on TV or social media, or just those with the loudest voices. But leadership is innate in everyone. How we express that leadership may be different but, once we figure out how to harness it, there is no limit on what we can accomplish. We need leaders in the nonprofit sector to see themselves as just that – leaders – regardless of where they sit, where they come from, or how they show up. The problems we face are big and complex. We need everyone at the table to solve them.
IS: What about Independent Sector’s mission and the focus of Upswell piqued CCL’s interest to support our 2022 Upswell events?
BW: Upswell’s focus on promoting change, developing leaders, and furthering equity in our world all speak directly to CCL’s mission. Like our fellow Independent Sector members, we are a nonprofit, so our first goal is to exist in service to our clients, their communities, and our world. The depth and breath of Upswell offerings ensures that more nonprofit leaders can find support, encouragement, and opportunities to further their impact. We want to be part of that.
Learn more about the Center for Creative Leadership, the 2022 Upswell Pop-Ups and Summit, all powered by Independent Sector, how to become an Upswell partner, other Independent Sector members, and becoming a member. Read past stories about the Center for Creative Leadership: “The Center for Creative Leadership Focuses on People and ‘Ripple Effect’ Dividends” and “How Psychological Safety Can Benefit Nonprofits.” The top photo is courtesy of the Center for Creative Leadership.