Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jewish Agency head to offer leadership insights in Rockville TONIGHT, D.C. THURS.

The president of my firm, Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications, has a new blog on Washington Jewish Week. This week, Steve Rabinowitz and I wrote a piece together, talking up Jewish Agency International Development's Misha Galperin and his new book, Reimagining Leadership in Jewish Organizations: Ten Practical Lessons to Help You Implement Change and Achieve Your Goals.

Misha will be discussing the book TONIGHT (Wednesday, September 19) at the JCC in Rockville and TOMORROW (Thursday, September 20) at the DC JCC. Come check it out. The full blog post follows below.
Misha Galperin, President and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development
Gotta' admit, it's nice to have a byline every once in a while!

9/18/2012 10:22:00 PM
Misha Galperin to offer leadership insights in Washington, Rockville THIS WEEK

with Samantha Friedman

One of Washington's most famous sons of the Jewish nonprofit community returns to our area this week. Misha Galperin, who headed the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington for nine years, is now in New York as the head of Jewish Agency International Development (a client), where he is responsible for the Jewish Agency for Israel's External Affairs. He just came out with a new book, Reimagining Leadership in Jewish Organizations: Ten Practical Lessons to Help You Implement Change and Achieve Your Goals, and he's coming back to Washington to talk about it. In other words, he's got years of experience in Jewish leadership; yes, he literally wrote the book.

The book is divided into ten lessons drawn from Misha's own experience - in fact, the book came out of a speech he gave at his last DC Jewish Federation annual meeting as CEO. Not only has he held high-level positions locally and nationally, but what you might not know is he's also a clinical psychologist who grew up in the former Soviet Union. This background guides the way he advises people to become involved in leadership capacities, to identify and cultivate leaders, to effect positive change in an organization, and to ensure that leaders exert the proper level of attention toward creating and carrying out a succession plan to perpetuate their organizations.

Not everyone is a leader. Misha isn't afraid to admit this, or, he says, should we be. He provides a list of what to look for in a leader, things like inspiration, questioning authority while respecting the past, empathy, courage, an affinity for problem solving, willingness to make decisions and risk making mistakes, possession of deep convictions, optimism. People may be natural-born leaders, he proffers, but if they don't have the tools or support to hone their leadership skills, their innate abilities will go to waste. Nurturing leadership must be a larger, organized societal effort, not something done in a vacuum.

The book is a book for the here and now; the audience is current or future leaders of Jewish institutions and nonprofits we may know or hope to know - or hope to facilitate in their endeavors. Interestingly, Misha opens the book by relating the opportunity for a refined focus on leadership in the Jewish community to the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement. He writes:

"Similar movements are sprawling across the United States and Europe, begging for financial equality in a world of haves and have-nots. Each protest differs in its objective or focus, but they all share a common denominator: the anger and disappointment that emerge in the vacuum of leadership. These are largely grassroots, leaderless movements. They are seen as attacking people with power, but ironically they too seek someone to represent them. Protesters are dissatisfied with the status quo, but there is no one to talk to, no one to listen, no one to galvanize or point them in a direction. They want things to be different, but they don't know how. This global trend showcases the major deficit in leadership we are currently experiencing."
You should read the book yourself - whether you're looking for people to lead specifically Jewish organizations or any other organizations or groups in which you're involved - but here's the cheat sheet of Misha's lessons in leadership:
  1. Find the right people
  2. Nurture people who matter
  3. Invest in partnerships
  4. Don't be afraid to push the bus - when the "Jewish communal bus" runs out of gas due to challenges including "lack of resources, nagging politics, completion, and lack of enthusiasm," the real leaders step up, and their value becomes apparent
  5. Vision is everything
  6. Work quickly
  7. Take risks and make mistakes
  8. Find a mentor
  9. Zero in on what's important
  10. Be inspired, stay inspired
Of course, these are only his lessons, and he makes an important point in closing:
"Articulate how you lead, and you begin to lead differently. Find the language to express your own deeply held leadership principles, and you will discover what you stand for, even if you have always had some inkling before. Writing it down, speaking it, and sharing it with others will help anchor your own commitments."
For more, see what Washington Jewish Week's Meredith Jacobs learned about the book from her interview with Misha Galperin, published in last week's edition, as well as eJewish Philanthropy's review of the book. Then come see Misha.  
Follow me on Twitter @steverabinowitz but Samantha wrote most of this.