Social enterprises are the cathedrals of today. They require a huge amount of faith, resources and energy to be built, as what they supposedly deal with cannot be fixed instantly. The smartest among them trigger the growth of co-related networks and micro-economies, they amplify spiritual and cultural energy and gather masses. They are a shelter for ideas, people and resources and save many souls. It’s a nest for great future-centric leadership.
At their head, you will find many women, the most ingenious leaders among them being extremely adaptive, able to connect to the most resourceful people and structures, in order to develop simple yet very smart and impactful routes to growth.
if you want to show the same amount and quality of courage, competences, connections and confidence as these women, you will need to develop a great information processing ability that would help you optimize the route along which you will grow to reach necessary resources. In other words, you’ll need to be a deeply smart networker, a bright knowledge manager, and develop future centric behaviour and services.
To name just a few:
An innovator in sustainable development, such as Dr Rachel Armstrong, who combines scientific and academic background with future-centric strategy, and creative, even artistic ways to articulate her work. Rachel creates carbon negative architecture, and projects to sustainably grow an “artificial limestone reef underneath the city of Venice, to slow down its sinking into the soft delta soils on which it is built, using a new chemically programmable, DNA-less cell called a ‘protocell’ “.The social implications on Venice or other cities in developing countries subject to frequent low-level floods are immense. Rachel also works on Black Sky thinking, behaviours that would enable us to adapt to unknown territories such as space. The learning encourages us to adapt to more sustainable ways of life on earth.
Donna Morton, CEO and co-founder of First Power Canada and co-founder of Principiumm.co, is driven by innovation and a commitment to future generations. Her ventures put clean energy, jobs and equity in the hands of indigenous communities. As a leader, Donna demonstrates how quadruple bottom line is a non-negotiable to make sustainability a reality. She campaigns at the intersection of ethics, finance, and future centric economies.
Andrea Coleman, biker and co-founder of Riders for Health, ensures that health workers in Africa have access to reliable and smarter transportation so that regular healthcare services reaches the most isolated people.
One of the reasons why some women aren’t as visible and openly influential as the ones above is that there are time when confidence, or self-esteem, a very volatile currency, comes nagging us, and prevent us to express ourselves as the leader we want to be for our communities. Volatile confidence blurs our vision, it makes us shrink. I believe that leadership as a fitness exercise, must include ways to recognise vulnerability and tools to reconquer the belief we have in ourself. But these tools are personal.
I see women social leaders in our network become paralysed when subjected to stress, especially the stress due to proliferation of nay-sayers, drawbacks, lack of confidence and self-belief.
But nature has the answer, the simplest form of life, slime mould, has the capacity to “remember” the obstacles that stressed them, and goes beyond its normal behaviour to avoid them. If we could make more use of this faculty as women, we would avoid that recurrent self-sabotage.
The extraordinary women leaders I have met in my work at Ogunte have common qualities: they are brilliant thinkers AND activists. And they are also courageous. This is what amazes me when using the mould’s behaviour as a blue print for better social leadership.
These women have also cracked commercial dilemmas that a lot of Social Entrepreneurs face: they are able to attract buyers’ inner drivers and pulsion to buy services/products that have an impact on their emotions and lives, now or in a very near future, and by doing so, they can trigger and fund strategies to support long term social and environmental impacts.
We need more of these specific leaders.
We need to invest in a culture where they are more visible and engaged with each other collectively. If women social innovators keep on organising themselves as smart networks, they will be able to revitalise communities through an intelligent invasion of sound services and products that are future centric and impactful.
It will not happen through just a law of quota but through the connective and informative power of mavens among networks.
Let’s look further to the women social leaders who could be part of our media headlines, our judging panels, our short lists of mentors, role-models, muses, our councils, and even better: our up and coming social business partners and preferred suppliers. Once we have done this, we are more likely to make our communities more intelligently woven and relevant to service users, citizens, consumers.
Servane Mouazan, Author is founder and Director of Ogunte CIC, the organisation that helps women social entrepreneurs make an impact on people and planet.