061: Tensie Whelan, part 1: The Rainforest Alliance, United Nations, and NYU-Stern
Tensie is helping unravel my preconceived notions of academics focusing more on facts than action.
Maybe because she was President of the Rainforest Alliance. Maybe because I met her when she brought the U.N. Secretary General to NYU. You’ll hear other global organizations and people she’s influenced, led, and collaborated with in a remarkable and effective career so far.
She brings a new perspective on leading organizations to this podcast, as I’ve mostly focused on leading people. She shares stories that massive change is possible. She lived it. She talks experience, not just theory.
She also shares practical advice and histories of what worked and what takes more patience since it’s not easy. Always dealing with people. Some points you’ll hear from her stories:
- Effective leadership is rarely, if ever, about being right.
- Empathy helps lead people and organizations. You have to understand organizations as you do people to lead them.
- It’s hard in practice—emotionally, internally. Maintaining integrity while empathizing with people doing things you disagree with.
- But if you want change, being effective is more important than venting.
A younger, angrier, less skilled me would only think to protest organizations I disagreed with. As she shares, confrontation is still important, but also to engage and lead.
Hard work is exciting.