Last month, JUMP! hosted the third webinar of our series with leaders in the social impact sphere. We were lucky to host Roshan Paul, Co-Founder and CEO of the Amani Institute, a global organization that works to train future social impact leaders.
Switching up the format from the presentation-based style of our earlier webinars, JUMP! Director of Global Citizenship, Michou, conducted an interview with Roshan and opened up the floor for audience questions at the end. Roshan has a wealth of experience and insight to share from leading Amani. We encourage you to check out the full recording if you weren’t able to tune in. Here’s our summary of Roshan’s key points from the conversation:
1. The “Why”
Leaders are at their best when they are focusing on their strengths, doing work that is deeply aligned with who they are and what they want to create in the world. Roshan emphasized that a leader should take time to clarify their purpose to a high degree of specificity. Roshan has discovered his “why” through identifying a training gap in the social impact sphere and embarking on a mission to better equip others with the tools they need. The Amani Institute doesn’t aim to educate generally about social entrepreneurship, but it actively builds the experience and skills of others so they can enact change. Without fully examining his “why,” the reach of Amani and the great impact created for its program participants would not be realized.
2. Walk It Like You Talk It
While stressing the importance of being values-led, Roshan clarified that it is when abstract values are tested that you realize which values you truly hold. How do you respond when you have to choose between two values that might conflict in practice? Often, it is not possible to fully live out all the values you might think you hold. Being values-led requires constant self-evaluation in the face of changing circumstances. What surfaces in your response to those changes define your values. Our values are how we act, not what we say.
Roshan cautioned against a fear of failure. Amani, along with many other organizations globally, have begun pushing the discourse about failure in the entrepreneurship world through “Fail Faires.” With so many conferences touting best practices, standards, and effective strategies, could it not be equally as constructive to learn from what hasn’t worked in the field? By thinking critically about failure rather than brushing it aside, you are able to build capacity for future impact. To Roshan, ”business as usual” is not leadership–if you want to be a leader, you have to push boundaries and go to the unknown, which sometimes leads to a degree of failure.
Reframing is a way to rethink the parameters of a situation, perhaps from negative to positive or find the potential opportunities held within. For example, high expectations from a manager could be viewed as someone providing work that is too difficult for you or it can be reframed signally that the difficult work you’ve been given is a result of people believing in your abilities. It’s a tool that Roshan often employs in his own work and life. Taking the long lens, as Roshan says, helps us to view situations with greater perspective and interpret more than what we initially see.
When asked about heroes, Roshan said that you don’t necessarily have to know your heroes personally. Studying the lives of great leaders can help you become a better leader yourself. Stories are even more powerful when they employ the four tools above. Telling stories is a way to examine choices in action (values), and understand the “why.” Furthermore, it is often the lessons in these stories that reframe failure as a chance for growth. Even through these webinars, JUMP! is engaging in a form of storytelling, learning from the choices made by other leaders.
Perhaps these takeaways will motivate your approach to the range of challenges that come up in the social impact field, or within your life in general. Roshan identified a principle that guides him: not to get bogged down in the nonstop problems we face, but to get excited about the nonstop work to solve stop them. Perhaps it is liberating to know there is always more we can do to push forward.
Thank you, Roshan, for your time, to Michou for moderating, and to those who tuned in last week to listen and ask questions. We look forward to seeing you at webinar #4 and will keep you updated as soon as it’s scheduled. In the meantime, we hope you take time to examine your “why”, actively consider how you define your values, seek opportunities to fail, reframe situations when necessary, and learn from the stories of others.