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  • Writer's pictureDeb Macfarlan Enright

Leadership After Dark

In conversation with Patrick Leddin – leadership guru and co-founder of the Leddin Group along with Jamie Leddin and Kevin Daley – I started thinking about Leadership After Dark.

Leadership After Dark, that time when “office’, “job”, “work”, or “career” responsibilities end and leaders choose to provide their expertise, experience, sweat equity, networks, and resources to organizations within communities local to international that are doing good to make the world better.

I posited to Patrick that indeed the concentric circles of influence – the ripple effect of lending one’s leadership to go do good – include family, neighborhoods, faith communities, civic organizations, affinity organizations, government, politics, social enterprises, and other philanthropic endeavors. (There are, undoubtedly, more that could be added to the list, so I hereby enlist your support, dear reader, in adding items in the comments section to provide a robust example of this type of leadership.)

The talents leaders bring to these arenas can be defined by their industry area of expertise (accounting, law, marketing, etc.), but others are grounded in management mastery, mentoring emerging leaders, instigating disruption, and connecting seemingly exclusive entities into a collaborative experience to cause even greater good.

So, what does Leadership After Dark (LAD) look like?

For my first example, I lift up two of Middle Tennessee’s finest leaders, Pam Bryant and Gail Powell. While also stars in the nonprofit/social impact sector as award winning organizational leaders, both Pam and Gail give a significant amount of their time to those doing good outside the concerns of their own entities.

A few summers ago, they were fast at work introducing area high school students to the nonprofit social impact sector as a career path mixing experiential knowledge opportunities with a college visit and a pitch contest for the finale of the program.

As alumni of the WCS Ambassador program (A five week leaders’ program that took Williamson County executives on a five month journey within the public school system to build a corps of partners driven to strengthen our school district to benefit the Williamson County community.), Pam and Gail decided to create a “give back” program for some students during a week in the summer. Thanks to the gracious offering invitation to headquarter the program at the Williamson County Chamber’s offices, students arrived from as far away as Fairview.

Christened Youth Philanthropy in Motion, Pam and Gail created several program goals that included a rousing pitch contest at the end of the program. This pitch contest would be the culmination of learning about the work of selected area organizations, visiting the organizations to interview the leadership about their current revenue streams, creating a product, program, or service that would help diversify the revenue portfolios, and finally pitching these ideas to leadership and Board members from these organizations to win support for implementation of the idea in real time.

The student group work went beyond the “what would it look like if ---” to developing the content for a created program, manufacturing prototypes for possible products, and creating the entire implementation budget and operations for the service. The week was packed with touring area organizations, visiting Belmont campus for an exciting lunch and learn event about the Social Enterprise program at the business school hosted by Dr. Bernard Turner, team building experiences facilitated by the inimitable Katie Richards at the Chamber headquarters, and the pitch contest with a panel of judges that included the WCS Superintendent of Schools.

It was an amazing week.

And as the photo up shows, we had a lot of fun as well. (Gail and Pam are on the far left!)

Who won the pitch? We all did! Every element of the program culminated in a morning of students leaning in with their leadership to support area organizations. Mercy Community Health Center had a student group determined to raise their brand awareness in the community for manufactured a band aid with packaging that included a bold MCHC logo. Families with special needs children had a certified location (the High Hopes campus in Franklin) and skilled staff to watch their little ones while they attended to Christmas shopping.

What did this do for the students?

· Introduced them to new friends across the County

· Introduced them to students living very different lives from their own

· Introduced them to the nonprofit/social impact sector with all of its career opportunities

· Introduced many of them to their first college campus, professor, and university Dean

· Introduced them to leaders who took their own vacation time to lean in and lend their considerable talents to do good in the local community

Leadership After Dark – or during a week in the summer - demonstrates the immense opportunities to do good using your leadership skills.

These concentric circle of influence – this ripple effect of doing good – is so interesting to me.

I have the distinct honor of being a guest on Patrick’s popular (amongst the Top 10 Business Leadership podcasts) and influential podcast “Leadership Lab hosted by Dr. Patrick Leddin” to discuss this topic. Please give the episode a listen on the Leddin Group platform ( or your go-to podcast platform.

Considering the impact that Leadership After Dark has on the nonprofit/social impact sector opens up opportunities to investigate how that leadership has evolved over time, how LAD strengthens as well as challenges nonprofit/social impact organizations, other examples of what LAD looks like in action, and what it may look like moving forward within and amongst generations. I’ll share the stories gathered as I ask questions to learn how very deep and wide the concentric circles of influence Leadership After Dark has on doing good in the world so together, we can all continue to

Go Do Good.

Deb is the Founder of The Macfarlan Group. She loves learning about leadership through the stories of those who do good to make the world better. This topic of Leadership After Dark feeds into Deb's belief that everyone - no matter their station - has the ability actually the responsibility to lean in to do good to make the world better whether alleviating the hunger of a family, rescuing a discarded dog, or helping a child learn to read. She is collecting these stories to bring to you to spur on action as well as help us understand the intrinsic value of lending one's specific strengths to do good.

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