Constructive Troublemaking: A Personal Leadership Practice

As professionals engaged in the work of providing a public service or creating social change, we need to take ourselves seriously because our success matters for others. But paradoxically, our drive to achieve success in the social sector also hampers us. The ambition to be skilled and effective stifles authenticity. The choice to be a professional, dutiful change-maker discourages bravery. And don’t we need to be authentic and brave to be our most effective?

As professionals engaged in the work of providing a public service or creating social change, we need to take ourselves seriously because our success matters for others. But paradoxically, our drive to achieve success in the social sector also hampers us. The ambition to be skilled and effective stifles authenticity. The choice to be a professional, dutiful change-maker discourages bravery. And don’t we need to be authentic and brave to be our most effective?

We need to un-learn and to be un-trained a bit in order to make our maximum contribution. Relying purely on our skill and competence is too much of a compromise, because our work is messy, risky, fraught with unpredictability, and dependent on having uncomfortable yet necessary conversations. So let’s try “constructive troublemaking.”

“Constructive Troublemaking” is a personal leadership practice that seeks to revive our connection to a sense of calling with authenticity and bravery. It’s not about raising our voice in anger with destructive effect. And it’s certainly not about stifling our voice in polite compliance with minimal effect. Constructive Troublemaking is a practice of channeling radical empathy for ourselves first, so that we can offer the same to our colleagues, our erstwhile adversaries, and those we propose to serve.

In the span of a one day workshop, with a room full of strangers, with a facilitator who starts off by challenging you to be more authentic and brave, what can you accomplish? Well:

  • You can look at your story and be honest about how you’ve been too angry or too polite in your work
  • You can re-remember a time when you first felt a calling to make change in the world and use that to start to re-connect
  • You can practice using a more authentic and brave voice among others doing the same
  • You can chart out a couple of difficult conversations you need to have after you leave our safe space
  • You can resolve to adopt the Constructive Troublemaking personal leadership practice for doing good

I hope you’ll join me for the day, Thursday, November 10th for "Constructive Troublemaking: Personal Effectiveness for Change-Makers." This program is for leaders at any level, as well as aspiring leaders, in the social sector who feel a need to revive their passion and who see opportunity for increasingly their personal impact in making change.

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