Archives for May 2016

Does EMERGE meet the Living Building Challenge?

Emerge Front Cover OnlyLast week I had the lovely experience of introducing my new book: EMERGE: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community at the 10th Annual Living Future Unconference in Seattle Washington.

Being among the 1000+ committed, smart, and courageous proponents of a positive living future was exhilarating. And it didn’t hurt that we sold out our stock of books at the ILFI Bookstore! On the way home from the conference I had this crazy thought… Would/could EMERGE meet the Living Building Challenge? So, although I am not in any official capacity regarding this, and totally biased, here goes my analysis of how the EMERGE Leadership Model measures up using the framework of the Living Building Challenge:

Site:   Emergent Leadership is grounded in the reality that YOU can only truly lead from an authentic place. Not only that, you can only influence others when you start from where THEY are. Check!

Water:  Emergent leadership is applicable to every situation where the aspiration is a world that is “culturally just, socially rich, and ecologically restorative.”1  It is not just leading for the sake of leading, it responds to our shared “thirst” to transform the world for the greater good. Check!

Energy: Emergent leadership looks for the “hotspots” in systems and amplifies the energy there to shift mindset, create new design processes, and identify life-sustaining solutions. Net energy producing AND carbon-emission free. Check!

Health:  Emergent leadership recognizes that we need each other to do our work.  Burn-out is a hazard we must contend with.  Coming together to work and play in collaborative environments makes sure we stay healthy and productive. Check!

Materials: Emergent leadership acknowledges that there are toxic situations and ideas that must be acknowledged through transparency and dis-empowered by refusal to use them in our leadership initiatives.  By doing so, we open the door to innovation and opportunities to trade better ideas. Check!

Equity: Every one can lead from any chair using emergent principles.  The power is in personal integrity, not position or title. Check!

Beauty: Emergent leadership connects us to the beauty within each other and in our idealism. It’s okay to imagine. In fact, we want you to. Check!

Scale Jumping: Emergent leadership works at any scale but it works best at the human scale. Check!

Performance: One of the most important aspects of any of the “Living” Challenges is that it’s based on performance not promise. Individuals and organizations that have studied and are applying the EMERGE Leadership Model have reported back that in fact it’s helped them achieve leadership goals they’ve set.  They successfully launched policy initiatives, started business enterprises, and traversed risky transitions. Just last week at Living Future I learned of two more success stories. In one case an organization had just learned they’d won a $60K grant due to a connection made in the EMERGE Leadership network. In the other case, an individual had learned they’d just gotten the job of their dreams, one she’d outlined on her EMERGE personal leadership development plan.    Check!

So, bias freely admitted, EMERGE measures up.  What a good feeling!

1 ILFI Mission. The EMERGE Leadership Project is proud to be one of many partners supporting the Conference and the International Living Future Institute in 2016.International Living Future Institute logo

Rouser Interviews Author of EMERGE: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community

Emerge Front Cover OnlyRouserSHowEarlier this year, Meisha Rouser, organizational psychologist interviewed Kathleen O’Brien, author of the new book Emerge: A Strategic Leadership Model for the Sustainable Building Community for her weekly radio show. Highlights of the interview focus on how to intentionally create positive change in our organizations and ourselves. O’Brien and Rouser discuss how it is “story” (and often multiple story lines) that prevent change or act as a drag on positive change. By making our story(ies) explicit, however, we open ourselves to the positive possibilities existing within those stories and O’Brien shares an example of a design project that benefited from this process. Emergent leadership benefits a great deal from understanding where we or our organizations are attitudinally towards a particular positive vision. O’Brien and Rouser discuss what researchers tell us about the six stages of change and how we might use this understanding to create positive change.

Meisha Rouser is a leadership and organizational development coach in the Seattle area and has served as Board Secretary for The EMERGE Leadership Project since 2014.  Her weekly show airs on KKNW 1150, one of the largest radio markets in the U.S.  All her shows are recorded and you can subscribe to the podcasts at:

Kathleen’s book is out and will be featured THIS WEEK at the tenth annual Living Future Conference. Book launch, signing and talk schedule here.

Our Goal is Modest…but Significant. Take time to GiveBig to EMERGE today

GiveBig2016-Logo“If you are like me you are getting lots of appeals from your favorite charities participating in local GiveBig campaigns right now.  I encourage you to support them, and include The EMERGE Leadership Project in your giving plan.”  – Tammy Deets, Chair of the Board of Directors for the EMERGE Leadership Project.

The EMERGE Leadership Project participates in the Seattle Foundation’s Give Big Campaign, which is scheduled for this Tuesday, May 3rd.   The campaign offers the opportunity to help organizations you want to help with a real boost:  every dollar you contribute is “stretched” (last year by 8.3%, which is a great return by any estimate).  You don’t have to wait until Tuesday to give.  You can do it RIGHT NOW by clicking on: Any amount will be appreciated. Seriously!

Where we are right now: $1,200 has been contributed to the EMERGE Leadership Project in pre-GiveBig Day donations to date; $300 has been offered as matching funds; and we have 100% participation by our Board of Directors. Our goal is $5000, so we have already reached more than 20% of our goal through earlybird contributions! It’s great to have your support!

Here’s what we do with those funds: Our goal is modest compared to many bigger non-profits, but what we will do with your funds is significant. The EMERGE Leadership Project will fund leadership training, mentoring, and/or other support to designers working for social justice in the built environment. Give Big Funds from 2015 funded leadership training at Islandwood for affordable housing designers.  Hear how EMERGE Leadership training has impacted Monica Joe from Low Income Housing Institute and Aaron Allan from Environmental Works, two non-profits shaping affordable housing and community design projects. Thank you to all who generously contributed last year.

Let’s keep the fire’s burning for social justice in the built environment. Any amount will do.