A Lesson on Love and Leadership

A guest blog from The National Girls Collaborative Project's Erin Hogeboom. Check out her bio below, and check out the wonderful work NGC is doing here

If you participated in NGC’s September Collaborative Leadership Meeting call, than you heard firsthand how Erika Petrelli’s words can ignite inspiration and spark feelings of confidence, belonging, and purpose. Erika, the author of On Wings and Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary, lead a dynamic discussion on “Managing Effective Leadership Teams.” It is a topic she is well versed in from her work as The Leadership Program’s Vice President of Leadership Development. Erika set a positive, reinforcing tone for the meeting right from the start, beginning with the following wise words:

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”    

- Antoine de Saint Exupery 

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in the magic will never find it.”  

- Roald Dahl

When asked for their thoughts on these quotes, our Collaborative Leads and Leadership Team members had responses that included:

  • “They inspire me to slow down and be more reflective.”
  • “[They demonstrate] the power of the human mind.”
  • “[They show that] things are not always as they seem.”
  • “Recognition of the value of gratitude... [a reminder to always] look for the positives.”

Clearly participants were eager to think deeply and honestly about the real impact their powerful visioning and guidance can make on their Leadership Teams and more broadly.

Erika Petrelli Erika asked our leaders to reflect on the dichotomy between their “best boss ever” and their “worst boss ever.” The reactions and rekindled feelings were immediate. For those who struggled with a difficult boss, terms like unimportant, undervalued, disruptive, and afraid came up. These were in stark contrast to their experiences with great bosses, which prompted terms like needed, empowered, challenged, important, valued, autonomous, supported, and capable. The remainder of Erika’s presentation centered around how, as a leader, to cultivate those “best boss” feelings.

Her biggest recommendation, and the one that permeated all the others, was “leading with love.” We need to see those we work with—whether they be the youth we serve or the adults we labor alongside—through loving eyes and as more than just a number, worker bee, or means to an end.

This message spoke to our audience, and many were inspired to speak up. Our Collaborative Lead from Louisiana eloquently tied this conversation to an interaction she had had with a student that very morning.

“I made my way back to my office, and a student had been sitting by my door waiting for me. I welcomed him into my office and I am thinking he is going to ask me a question about homework when he asks me, ’Why aren’t there more women in STEM?’ Well, of course, I have a lot to say about that, so we talked about some of the factors that contribute to the statistics that we see shared all the time. But I told him, no matter what the stats say, the ultimate reality is that these discrepancies and this divide that we see on so many different levels is a love crisis. If we really see another human being with all the possibility and promise [that has been instilled in them], then we treat them with the love and respect that they deserve. And that comes across in how we educate them and the opportunities that we guide them towards, equal pay for equal work, and so many other issues and concerns that we see in our society, which could simply be solved with a whole lot more love.”

Erika enabled our community call to get vulnerable, honest, and real. With all the heartache that is happening in the world today, I think everyone left September’s meeting with words of love and encouragement resonating in their heads and in their hearts. Ultimately, love and encouragement are the best tools in our pursuit of more compassionate, fruitful, collaborative leadership.

Erika Petrelli’s book, On Wings and Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary, can be found on Amazon.

Erin Hogeboom

As Community Development and Network Strategy Manager for the National Girls Collaborative (NGC), Erin Hogeboom increases cohesion across the NGC network and The Connectory, an online community, thereby expanding science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) resources more equitably. Through managing partnerships, pilots, and on-going projects, facilitating strategic planning, implementation, and social media surrounding the NGC Leadership growth and sustainability, Erin reinforces the forward momentum of NGC and The Connectory. With the goal of increasing diversity in tomorrow’s STEM professionals, Erin's role culminates eight years of working on community and human development issues. Erin holds a Masters from New York University and is a former Peace Corps Volunteer. She lives in San Diego, CA.

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