Home Concepts Adult Development The Big Picture, Civic Engagement and Generativity Four

The Big Picture, Civic Engagement and Generativity Four

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Communication: Ensuring effective communication is a third way Senior Sage leaders most help their favored civic organizations. Sometimes this involves providing leadership in telling the organization’s story to the outside world:

“Helping the hospital to effectively communicate its story has given me a great deal of meaning and satisfaction. The hospital is probably the largest non-government employer in Nevada County. Yet hospital management barely knew who the mayors and council members of our two cities were. For this reason, I encouraged hospital management, physicians, and nurses to become more involved in local community issues. This initially met with resistance because management didn’t want to be put in a position of looking as if the hospital was taking sides on issues. In time, however, management came to realize that some issues are in their own self-interest—like the need for employee affordable housing. The hospital now has a vice-president for marketing, and this person gives regular feedback to hospital management from community stakeholders.”

Financial Development: Nonprofit organizations are always in search of money to carry out their special missions. Senior Sage leaders can be particularly helpful in this regard (often even more so than the Emerging leaders). Most often this involves Senior Sages helping their organizations to raise funds or to contribute money themselves:

“I’ve helped the organization most by fundraising, and over the years have given a considerable sum myself. And then talking it up with others. Donation solicitation must be done peer-to-peer, because people of a certain status understand each other and communicate more freely. I’ve tried to lead by example.

When our Executive Director resigned just before our major summer musical festival, I added to my portfolio as Board President the position of Co-Executive Director. In order to save the organization, we mobilized the Board to respond to this serious situation. Then we had to mobilize the community to respond from an emotional perspective if we were to preserve this wonderful community treasure. As Board President, I had to set a good example and draw upon my organizational skills.”

And some Senior Sages apply wise experience in helping their favored organizations to understand how best to approach others for funding over the long-term:

“We have emphasized relationship-building rather than simply asking people for money. If you ask someone for money, that’s just one shot. But if you build a relationship and they believe in what you are doing, then you can have that relationship forever—if you continue to cultivate and sustain it. So, in emphasizing relationship-building, we ask people what they want and then give them feedback on how our organization is helping.”

Sometimes with the assistance of a professional coach, many Senior Sage leaders muse about the ways they are most helpful at the strategic level of their favored organizations. They exemplify the push in Generativity Four toward expanding the space in which they deeply care.

Extending the Space: Increased Diversity and the Bigger Picture

This expanding of space comes in two important forms: (1) increased diversity of civic engagements and (2) movement to a broader perspective regarding how to impact one’s community. An important role can be played in both regards by what we might identify as an Expansionist Coach.

Increasing Diversity of Perspective

We have found that most of the Generative Four leaders we interviewed start civic engagement by first working with one or two organizations. They are then likely to get involved in an increasingly diverse set of activities and organizations. This diversification is poignantly portrayed in the narrative on civic engagement offered by Sally, our Featured Player who was once honored as “citizen of the year” in Los Angeles and is now ever-expanding her role as a civic leader in Nevada County:

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