I recently attended the 2012 commencement ceremony at the University of San Diego where Al Carey, CEO of PepsiCo Americas Beverages spoke. His speech was aimed at the graduating seniors, yet seemed applicable to those of all ages, providing sage wisdom from his professional experience.
While much of it was about entering the workforce and the challenges these fresh faces will encounter, one particular piece of advice stood out to me in a glaring way. Citing the characteristics of a good leader, Mr. Carey discussed the concept of negative energy.
I don’t have a transcript of the speech so allow me to paraphrase:
I have experienced being in a tense conference room where the leader walks in and only adds to the stress level by destroying any shred of confidence the team has. I have also experiened being in a tense conference room where a leader walks in and lifts the stress off of the backs of the team by providing reassurance.
Negative energy is contagious and puts yet another obstacle in the team’s way.
As an entrepreneur myself, I immediately asked myself what kind of a leader I was. When the tough got going, did I lump more stress on the team by focusing on the negatives, highlighting all of the things we hadn’t thought of, and not providing solutions? Or was I the calming type that has a positive outlook on any obstacle put in our way?
Leadership is a complex beast in that while you must be effective preparing for what might go wrong, you must also be an inspiration to those working around you. Everything that goes on in your head does not necessarily need to be shared, because chances are the team has enough to handle.
I then began to think about Rising Pyramid and the social entrepreneurship community as a whole: are we serving as a catalyst for negative energy in the community or do we highlight the good work being done? What is the balance like for other social entrepreneurship news publications?
Our mission here at Rising Pyramid is to “celebrate social entrepreneurs and to explore the issues they face as they attempt to solve the world’s largest problem: poverty”. On the one hand, Microfinance Mondays have been generally cautious about the industry outlook because of the global economic hardships on the horizon. Yet Sunday Morning Coffees aim to serve as inspiration for the day to day challenges we may face working in any industry.
Ask anyone what they think about the news on TV and their response will most likely include the words “depressing” or “negative”. While the world is not all roses and sunshine, I challenge the social entrepreneur publication community to strive for a balance between discussing the harsh realities faced at the BoP and highlighting the constant inspiration that BoP entrepreneurs provide.
Most (if not all) of us working in the social enterprise space began our journey with some sort of inspiration. Let’s aim to pay that forward and inspire others with success stories as well as viewing obstacles the industry faces with a positive attitude.