new power
26 Mar
  • By Laura Parker
  • Cause in

Understanding the Concept of New Power

“Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.” – Harvard Business Review

I was grateful to attend the Global Giving Tuesday Summit in early March, hosted at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre. I joined 50+ leaders from around the world who run #GivingTuesday movements in their respective countries. This is an inspiring network of leaders from Russia to Barbados to Somalia who are trying to encourage a more generous and just society. While that seems like a huge ask, and it is, this network is unlike traditional social sector groups. The network is data-driven, innovative, and collaborative… three ideas that are relatively foreign to the NPO or CSI space in South Africa.

New Power is the deployment of mass participation and peer coordination to create change and shift outcomes” – Jeremy Heimans

The success of the GT movement worldwide is centered around “handraisers” or people who put their hand up, and bring #GivingTuesday to their own country, community, or cause. Because of the success of the movement around the world, in vastly different contexts, the global team is diving deeper into what makes this type of “new” leadership. Much of the lessons from the success of the Giving Tuesday movement have been considered in Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms bestselling book, “New Power”. One of the strongest takeaways from the conference for me, was this new way of thinking about leadership that suggests we should SIGNAL, STRUCTURE, and SHAPE.

  • SIGNAL – speaks to how you showcase or model the behavior you are after. If you want a collaborative movement, you must showcase this in your own behaviours. You can’t just command it from the top.
  • STRUCTURE –  speaks to how people and crowds participate and helps create the culture. It also ensures you can get power into the network.
  • SHAPE – speaks to the tenor and tone of the movement, and doesn’t necessarily require you to be the formal CEO or head of an organisation. You can shape an agenda, and weave ethical values, through social networks, or in other more unconventional ways.

The entire notion of the #GivingTuesday movement is “engage in our mission, on your terms.”

This is a total shift in how many of us lead, and participate, so perhaps that challenges you to think differently about your own work as it did with me?



Read more about New Power here, or get in touch with us directly if you want support taking your leadership to the next level.



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Laura Parker
Into all things social impact, #GivingTuesdaySA lead, Non-Profit leader, travel lover and sports enthusiast

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