Adding the Secret Sauce: The Recipe for Turning Young Social Entrepreneurs into Impactful Leaders
If you asked entrepreneurs to name someone who made a positive impact in their lives while they were growing up, many of them would probably name a teacher. But how many of them would name a coach and/or a mentor? Knowing what I know today, I would. Here’s why.
When I first heard the word “entrepreneurship” I couldn’t even pronounce it, even though I grew up in a family of businessmen and -women. That was six years ago and the word was barely used in Brazil, where I am from. Yet as quickly as I learned how to pronounce it, I fell in love with its meaning – especially when I heard about “social entrepreneurship.”
I’ve always been passionate about helping others, and the inequalities of the world – along with my own privileges – felt like a burden to me. I wanted to do something meaningful. So, with my father to back me up, I opened up what I called a “consultancy for social impact.” The idea was to bring together the best of both the profit and nonprofit worlds through trainings, project management and fundraising.
However, with very little background in the business field (I graduated from law school) combined with starting a social business in a city where people hardly ever used the word entrepreneurship, my idea didn’t go too far.
At first, I couldn’t understand why things didn’t go as planned. After all, I had such a clear purpose.
From failures, a vital lesson
With absolutely no guidance, I had to learn the hard way that building a business is different than opening a company. My failures taught me that it’s vital to create a sustainable business model that considers not only what makes sense in your mind but what the local market actually needs. What I had tried to sell not only didn’t correspond to what I could really deliver, it was also not what the people I envisioned as my clients wanted.
I wish I had had a mentor to tell me all that and guide me on my lonely journey. It was only years later that I learned about coaching and went through a comprehensive process that helped me assess my own strengths and weaknesses as the leader of my organization and, eventually, of my own life. By then, it was far too late to make things work for my business.
unique leadership assessment tool
Luckily, that is not the case for the fellows at the Global Good Fund, where I work now.
Our co-founders’ many years of experience led them to realize that the combination of a few ingredients with a secret sauce on top of it all is what is needed to develop global social entrepreneurs into impactful leaders. Far from promoting an idea of a mathematical equation leading to success, what we offer is a 12-month fellowship program for young entrepreneurs, from across the globe, who are dedicating their lives to tackle the world’s most urgent social challenges.
At the Global Good Fund, we don’t believe in magic. Instead, we believe in the willingness to do good combined with hard work. But as important as these factors are, they are not everything. Our team knows that creating a positive social impact in the world needs not only a deep and clear sense of purpose – a “why” – but also, and very importantly, a strategic plan on how to create and deliver impact – a “what.”
Our programs are designed for and by social entrepreneurs and use a first-of-its-kind leadership assessment tool, the 360 MIRROR, specifically designed for social entrepreneurs. It’s a behavior-based assessment of the skills and values associated with great leaders; a survey that combines feedback from a fellow’s own network to help them learn about their leadership traits. It helps them find out what they, as leaders, do well and where they can improve in order to increase their organization’s development. In other words, it’s the kick-off of our fellows’ development.
a plan, a coach and a mentor
The results of this assessment are then transferred into a leadership plan that is completed within the 12 months of the program. We absolutely trust the efficiency of these two tools, but we are also very aware of the importance of offering some guidance throughout the process. That’s where our secret sauce comes in. We match our fellows with a leadership coach and an executive mentor.
The coaches help our fellows read the results of their leadership assessment and act based on those results, helping them set strategic goals that will, later in the program, be implemented with the guidance of the mentors. These dynamics happen in virtual monthly meetings that serve to keep fellows accountable for their tasks and on the track they envisioned for themselves.
These three resources – the leadership plan, leadership coaches and executive mentors – in combination with our fellows’ goal to make a positive social impact in their communities, form the pillars of our fellowship programs.
This sense of togetherness is what builds our brand. We know that, as social entrepreneurs, our fellows will try and often fail. But their coaches and mentors will be there to ask them what they learned from their mistakes and will guide them back to their journey of positive social impact.
We have seen many social entrepreneurs do great things in the world, but they haven’t done it alone. And even though many of our fellows have already established a strong team for their organizations, supporting them with an extra four hands of experienced leaders adds to their growth as impactful global leaders.
Alanna Sousa is the program manager at the Global Good Fund.
Photos courtesy of the Global Good Fund.