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Leading for Change: Lessons from CEOs in Global Development

February 20, 2024

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Lynne Gilliland

Lynne Gilliland Consulting

Lessons From Leaders has surpassed 100 episodes! Lynne Gilliland is pleased to share these milestone podcast episodes with Sean Carroll, CEO and President of Anera, and Donella Rapier, CEO and President of BRAC. Their discussions provide listeners with valuable wisdom from both leaders.

Episode 100: Leadership Alchemy: Igniting Impact in the Nonprofit Frontier!

Sean’s conversation offers insights from his diverse career trajectory. Over the past six years, he has led Anera, which coordinates resources to provide immediate emergency relief and facilitate sustainable, long-term advancements in health, education, and economic development, with unparalleled passion. Drawing from his diverse career, including serving as Chief of Staff and COO of USAID during the Obama administration, Sean brings a wealth of experience to the discussion.

“I believe we embody effective leadership when we extract the finest elements from past experiences, learning profoundly. It’s about taking what works, considering avenues for improvement, and discerning whether change is essential.” 

Sean’s passion for creativity set the stage for this insightful conversation on the importance of networking and the strength found in partnerships regarding the changing post-pandemic landscape.

“In humanitarian aid and beyond, partnerships amplify strength and yield greater results. Pandemic-driven CEO talks, virtual meetings, and partnerships amplify strength and innovation – not a coincidence; it’s necessary in our evolving world.” 

And speaking of the future, our discussion also explored the evolution of work: its remote nature, flexibility, creative solutions, and the possibilities that lie ahead. Check out Sean’s reflections in an episode that celebrates leadership and a remarkable journey.

Episode 102: Revving Up Change in Global Development

I also had the opportunity to sit with Donella Rapier, the retiring CEO and President of BRAC USA. Her nearly eight years leading BRAC reflect empathetic and principled leadership, advocating for local capacity building in global development. Donella prioritizes community ownership and inclusive practices, driving impactful change worldwide.

Donella’s journey is unique as BRAC is not your typical NGO; its headquarters lie in Bangladesh. Unlike traditional US-based NGOs, BRAC defies the Global North narrative, demonstrating the Global South’s potential in shaping influential organizations and empowering communities globally to overcome poverty, illiteracy, disease, and injustice with scalable solutions. Understanding BRAC’s roots in Bangladesh is key to exploring its leadership and organizational challenges.

Our conversation delved into the concept of localization and how BRAC USA is pushing for this transformation. Donella believes that while it’s a complex process, localizing development is the way to go.

“Embracing localization in global development requires intentional cultural changes. Let’s create space for local voices, address power imbalances, and simplify procurement rules to make a lasting impact.”

Donella’s message advocates for cultural sensitivity, confronts power imbalances, and promotes efficient procurement rules with determination. The key takeaway is the need for intentional organizational culture shifts to amplify local voices in a changing development landscape. Overall, she emphasizes empathy and genuine care for individuals.

“True leadership is not just about management skills; it’s about caring deeply for the individuals you lead. When you prioritize their well-being, that becomes your True North, guiding you always to do right by them. Excellence in management stems from genuine care for your people.”

Watch these recent episodes to learn more about leadership and innovation, the value of partnerships, and the essence of empathy and genuine care in leadership.

Real conversations. Current topics. Honest leaders. Found wherever you listen to podcasts. You can hear top tips from leaders across the world. Lynne and her guests discuss everything from success to failure, fear to courage, and the path to growth. Listen today!

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