“Here’s to the doers, the practical ones who flesh out the visionary’s ideas against what’s real and possible, the ones who point out the barriers ahead of time and find a way to get the visionary’s idea turned into a product or a service.” -Kevin Doyle Jones, Convener at SOCAP
Together, Social Capital Markets and Friday Consulting developed the Impact Weavers Award to change the conversation around who the heroes of social enterprise are, to recognize not just the visionary founders, but also the behind-the-scenes leaders who build the team and operational infrastructure to bring the vision to life. At Friday Consulting, we’re very familiar with this kind of internal role. We work with food and health & wellness entrepreneurs who have a vision for a business with social impact, but who may lack the bandwidth or knowledge to take that vision to the next level. question Playing this role ourselves, we understand how vital it is and call those who play this role “Impact Weavers” because we see them as skillful weavers, lacing together the many different parts that must come together to form a thriving, impactful organization.
During SOCAP14, we had the pleasure of awarding the inaugural Impact Weavers Award to two outstanding internal leaders: Mary Voelbel, Program Director at Upwardly Global and Lindsey Engh, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Impact Hub Seattle. We also had the opportunity to bring the conversation about impact weavers to the surface through a panel discussion about the important role internal leaders play in building successful organizations. Joining us for the discussion were the Impact Weavers Award recipients, Lindsey and Mary, as well as Sal Giambanco, Partner at Omidyar Network, and Shirley Gee, Managing Partner at Angel Plus LLC.
During our discussion, we asked the panelists: What are the key characteristics of a successful Impact Weaver? What do Impact Weavers need to be successful? What else can be done to change the conversation about the Impact Weaver role in social enterprise?
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
Impact weavers are flexible and savvy. They engage in continuous self-reflection, exude humility, are great at delegating, and hire to compensate for weaknesses.
Impact weavers need a learning culture that supports innovation. Give them permission to try things out and take risks, while providing formal pathways for feedback.
Impact Weavers should to be given opportunities to take more visible roles or claim credit for achievements. For founders, don’t just celebrate results, but also celebrate how and because of whom you achieved those results.
For founders wanting to better support their internal leaders, invest in your people and thank them. Provide real support for your Impact Weavers, and all of your employees, by taking steps to understand the whole person.
We don’t want the discussion to end here! Friday Consulting will be continuing this important conversation about internal leadership in social enterprise through our Impact Weavers mentorship and discussion group. We invite you to help us change the conversation about impact weavers in social enterprise and join the Impact Weaver community! For more information about the group, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.