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Our Best Light: Rising Leaders Inaugural Cohort Explores New Self-Assessment Tool

Thursday, February 11, 2021
NCG's inaugural Rising Leaders Cohort kicked off last year. The Cohort, a group of 20 emerging leaders in philanthropy, is filled with individuals who have a deep-seated passion for their own effectiveness in their work, and the effectiveness of the field. The Cohort offered participants a unique opportunity to focus on their own leadership journeys within the field and to build hard skills, like facilitation and conflict management, that will help take them to the next level in their careers.

In preparation for the first meeting, we each completed the Reflected Best Self Exercise (RBSE). So often, as a society, we focus on what needs improvement. This personal development tool is meant to help us see ourselves in our best light. Unlike traditional feedback platforms, the RBSE moves beyond self-assessment and allows those in your life to tell the stories of your best self - a true vulnerability exercise for many. 

Kate Seely, the NCG team member who led the Cohort, sat down with Stacie Mills, Associate at GreenLight Fund Bay Area, for a brief discussion on her experience using this tool. Stay tuned for the launch of the 2021 Cohort coming soon. In the meantime, you can register for our information session on the Cohort here

Kate: The experience of the RBSE felt so powerful for many of us as a way to begin a cohort experience focused on leadership development. What are some of the takeaways that you got from this exercise? 

Stacie: This exercise really gave me insight into how my unique talents have positively impacted the people I cherish and care about in my life. This was an opportunity to further leverage what I already knew about myself, just on a deeper, more vulnerable level. For instance, my exposure to this exercise unveiled a deep set of values and magnified the profound respect I hold for all people, a commitment to social justice, and equity for all I encounter. Through this, I garnered a deeper understanding of my foundational beliefs and how those are reflected in my daily life. 

I’d like to also share my emotional response to reading these stories. We often go through each day, checking items off a to-do list. It’s apparent to me now more than ever how my daily actions, small or large, are noticed no matter how trivial or critical the work may be. Reading my stories left me feeling very full - acknowledging the value and love I bring to the world in a way that no one else can bring it. We all have gifts that are uniquely ours. The RBSE amplified those gifts, and that felt important. All of this makes me feel more comfortable to lead from a place of authenticity. I am realizing that to be an effective leader, I have to first be myself. 

Kate: What were you surprised to learn through this exercise?

Stacie: The prompt was so simple, “Share a story that describes Stacie at her best.” And from that, I received incredibly thoughtful and honest responses. I couldn’t believe the recurring patterns and themes, particularly similar adjectives, that were used to describe me (even hearing from a variety of family, friends, and colleagues!). These commonalities were woven throughout all the narratives, lending insight into my best skills, strengths, and personality traits. It was wonderful to see my continuum of traits and patterns be so consistent with such a diverse pool of contributors: family, friends, colleagues (current and former).

Kate: What did you learn about your cohort peers through this exercise?

Stacie: I learned my peers have a deep-seated passion for their own impact and effectiveness in the world. This was made apparent by listening to my peers tell their stories: a nephew who holds his auntie to such high esteem or a colleague who is very empathetic and observant. I also saw how those values the cohort holds so dear are embodied in their daily actions. And as a result, we built a mutual trust and understanding of each other as a group and as partners together in philanthropy. 

Kate: The future of philanthropy lies in the hands of emerging leaders like you, and everyone else in this cohort. After learning about your results, what do you hope to explore further as you move through the program?

Stacie: Leadership takes on so many different meanings and brings a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives based on a myriad of identities. I hope to embrace my unique strengths and continue to develop in new areas, so I can continue building upon my best self.

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