Giving Compass’ Take:
• Forbes interviews Elizabeth W. Smith, the new president and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy, on what she’s discovered from years of civic engagement and how putting ego aside is crucial to strong governance.
• It’s worth paying attention to Smith’s remarks about coming into her role with a learning mindset and the importance of leading through listening. Are we practicing such methods in our own organizations?
When you take on a leadership role, you have to be willing to listen. That’s the guiding philosophy of Elizabeth W. Smith, the new president and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy.
Smith and I sat down in her Manhattan office to discuss her vision for the park, the role that public/private partnerships can play in civic projects and whether organizations should consider not only knowledge and skills but also character when bringing people onto its board of directors.
Bruce Weinstein: When I approached you in the spring to invite you for this interview, do you remember what you said?
Elizabeth Smith: Probably that I was too new to be insightful … One of the things that surprised me when I got here was that there was so much I didn’t know. I needed to get to know the staff, and I needed to get to know how the park actually worked. I needed to get to know how the women’s committee, which is an extremely effective fundraising arm of the Conservancy, operated and what their culture was. So even though I came into it with years of experience [as an assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and a member of the Conservancy’s board of directors] and I knew the former CEO well, there was a lot I still had to learn.
Read the full article about humility in leadership by Bruce Weinstein at Forbes.
Boards and Governance is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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