Archives for February 2014

EMERGE Leadership Community Just Got a Boost!

Hollie headshotHow many of you have ever felt alone or even burnt out in your advocacy for sustainable building in your design, construction, planning, or policy work?  I’d be surprised if you haven’t!  Those of us “assigned” by life to bring forth sustainable solutions in our built environment are practicing a form of leadership that goes beyond ensuring personal or even organizational success. Emergent leadership aspires to create a greater good in society.

Thich nan Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Monk, and peace activist wrote in his book “Teachings on Love” that if you are doing aspirational work including “working for the environment” you “need a sangha.”  Sangha technically applies to a community of Buddhist monks and nuns, or of Buddhists in general. But Thich naht Hanh is using the term in the larger sense of a community that shares a practice for the greater good.  This community can support each other in the work, practically, and emotionally. Joanna Macy, in her book “Active Hope” dedicates an entire chapter to the importance of “Building Support” to maintain a positive and effective approach to aspirational work.  We can’t do it alone.  And nature shows us that in order to thrive, we must engage with others who share our primary purpose. As Meg Wheatley notes, “nothing living lives alone!”

Thus a key aspect of the EMERGE Leadership Project is to offer “community” to those called to bring forth life sustaining solutions in our built environment.  To date, this has been in the form of social media groups (an EMERGE Alumni Group and an open EMERGE Leadership Group on LI and the Emergent Social Media page on FB), newsletters and email news blasts, and two in-person “clinics” (one in the Seattle area, one in the Bay area).

Thanks to Hollie McIntyre, the EMERGE Leadership Project’s new Community Engagement Coordinator, alumni, faculty, newsletter subscribers, and our social media followers are about to see an even greater emphasis on connecting the EMERGE Leadership community to each other – both for moral support and for continued shared learning.

McIntyre attended the EMERGE Leadership workshop at Islandwood this last December, so has an excellent feel for what members of the EMERGE community are looking for and can offer each other in the way of a “sangha.”

McIntyre recently concluded a seven-year stint in residential energy efficiency program management. Before that she worked for the Earth Conservation Corps.  In addition to volunteering for the EMERGE Leadership Project, McIntyre is taking a break from work to study Global Health Issues.

Says McIntyre, “My goal is to assist in bridging meaningful connections, to help foster study, practice, reflection, and sharing among our community members, and thus encourage the vision of emergent leadership. I’m super excited to be given an opportunity to do this work, and look forward to connecting with everyone.”

Engagement plans include check-ins, topical online hangouts and videos, and an uptick in social media connectivity.  If you are an alumni, faculty member, newsletter subscriber, or EMERGE follower and have ideas for building the EMERGE community, please let us know by emailing Hollie at:

And don’t be surprised if she contacts you!



Could Seahawks’ Coach Pete Carroll Be An Emergent Leader?

Kathleen O'BrienWhen I got an email yesterday from an EMERGE Alumni suggesting (with a giggle) that Pete Carroll, the victorious Seahawks coach, might be an emergent leader, I didn’t laugh it off. I’d read an article Jerry Brewer wrote for the January 31st Seattle Times on the subject of Carroll’s leadership style and insisted my husband read it, along with all the other pre-game stats. I found it intriguing.

Reading Brewer’s article (and then some other internet blurbs) I didn’t come away thinking Carroll was an emergent leader per se. The model we use for the EMERGE Leadership Project requires an explicit commitment to being a force for social change in the world (beyond one’s personal and/or organizational success) and I don’t know that about Carroll.

First, I need to confess that I am the least likely to be writing about a football coach; my leadership considerations for the last 30 plus years have been focused on one thing only – creating a sustainable built environment.

However, some things did catch my eye. The fact that Carroll gives people who others have dismissed a second chance. Brewer claims this “ability and willingness to get the best out of people who others would dismiss as too much trouble…is the secret ingredient to the Seahawks’ success.” Says Brewer in his article: “(Carroll) looks for the best in people. He considers all challenges an opportunity to do something extraordinary. So he can interact with people on the margins — in terms of character or even talent — and cull greatness.” When I read this, I thought of the centerpiece of the leadership component of our EMERGE Leadership Model — Servant Leadership. As those familiar with servant leadership know, the “The best test (of leadership)…is: do those served grow as persons, do they grow while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?” It does seem like Carroll looks for talent, but asks for personal growth and in the end — performance. And he certainly got it at the Superbowl this past Sunday.

And, apparently the example of Carroll’s leadership style has now filtered into local activism. Brewer’s article reports how a former gangbanger uses the coach’s philosophy for his youth outreach efforts.

Another thing that caught my eye in post-game reviews is both the emphasis on team performance over individual stars, as well as the use of special teams within the team to accomplish their win. Okay, Carroll clearly gets the bounty of collaborative process and has somehow convinced these BIG guys of the same. Collaboration is the foundational piece of the Community component of the EMERGE Leadership Model.

So from this very distant vantage point, Carroll does seem to exemplify some significant aspects of the emergent leadership approach. And you do have to like the results. Go Hawks!