"Imagine an organization where everyone feels a strong sense of shared purpose, where people relate to one another in a way that fosters greater awareness of the work and of themselves because they feel deeply understood and share a common purpose."
-Henry Cloud, Boundaries for Leaders
In the nonprofit world, especially in the challenging work of criminal justice reform or direct services, is Henry Cloud's vision of synergy possible? So often organizations are struggling in cash flow, meeting urgent client needs, and balancing ever-mounting demands on underpaid staff. How, then, does an organization move from a culture of stress to an environment where people "relate to one another in a way that fosters greater awareness of the work and of themselves"? How many spoonfuls of energy do you have left?
Henry Cloud's conclusion is that when leaders take time to really listen, so much changes about the workplace culture. This means listening to staff, clients, and partners alike. Let's talk about how this plays out in a broader movement for criminal justice reform.
In transformative justice work, we cannot cultivate a healthy movement if our workplaces are unhealthy. In order to effectively carry out their mission, organizations need to cultivate a space like Henry Cloud illustrates above. Why? Because the organizational culture will ultimately bleed into every corner of the work. If there is misery or mistrust among staff, you can bet that clients will feel it; if there is a lack of understanding of company values, clients and partners will experience inconsistent treatment; and if there is inconsistency in carrying out the mission, it will be harder to champion your message to broader audiences.
Here are some questions to consider. An organization that is embodying transformative justice would answer yes to most, if not all, of these questions:
If you are thinking about your own organization and answered no to any of these questions, there is room to grow, and that's the beauty of living out transformative justice. The process of facing our deficits -- not with shame but with an understanding that there are always new ideas to learn and ways to grow -- is necessary for positive transformation. It is the first step to moving closer to building a successful movement around justice reform.
If you'd like to set up a session with Transformative Justice Solutions, reach out to Katherine@transformthework.com or learn more about our services here.
What we're about
Check back for posts on leadership, program development, and criminal justice.