The Power in Stepping Aside
The education of a brute-force generalist to step aside and let more capable people take the reins.
Uncharted is doing more community mobilizing work as we connect organizations and people in one place to collectively create impact. I was in a meeting recently with a resident of one of these neighborhoods, and the language I was using and the way I was showing up were met with resistance. This person’s lived experience had justifiably made them suspicious of anyone who was trying to come in and “fix” their neighborhood (particularly when that person might be a white, male CEO of a non-profit). Fortunately, we have people on our team who are far more skilled in community relationship-building than I am. One of those people had joined me and her connection with this person was far better. She used different language, expressed herself differently, and altogether built a stronger relationship.
Later that same day, our COO gave me the permission to step back from leadership responsibilities that I wasn’t particularly good at. She is far better at these responsibilities than I am, so I gladly accepted. As Uncharted grows, my role is becoming more narrow. I’ve always seen myself as a generalist, and the generalist skill-set has been valuable for me since I joined Uncharted in 2012. But I’m brushing up against instances where my attempts at generalist-leadership are sub-optimal. I am realizing the path forward is one where I surrender areas of work I once owned and hand more leadership to the people I stand beside (it’s not hard to do with our badass team).