Today we’re talking with Charles Archer, Co-Founder and CEO of The THRIVE Network. We discuss topics relating to ways to develop as a leader including how to invest in yourself, how to lead through consensus, the differences between older and younger staff members, and when it is necessary to make staff changes.
Charles Anderson Archer is a lawyer, author, speaker, entrepreneur, and co-founder and CEO of the THRIVE Network. Archer has written the Everybody Paddles book compilations that provide strategies for creating organizational consensus and productivity through leadership. His enthusiasm about personal growth and development has led him to receive a Masters of Public Administration, and is currently pursuing his PhD. in Public Policy.
Before his CEO appointment to THRIVE, Archer served as a Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney and the Associate Executive Director to the InterAgency Council of Mental Retardation & Developmental Disability Agencies of New York, where he liaised with state agencies and community and government organizations on behalf of the mentally disabled & disadvantaged.
Charles has served as a Cuba research delegate with the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD); and an Ireland Research Delegate with International Association for Special Education (IASE). In addition, he has participated in the Harvard University – Kennedy School Driving Government Performance consortium, received the Network Journal Forty Under 40 achievement award, was the recipient of the King of Kings County award, and has received a Citation for his leadership as CEO for THRIVE from former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Early in 2015, the Commissioner for the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities chose Archer to join a group of experts in the service of the disabled to lead their transformation panel initiative. In 2015, Archer also visited Israel as a community delegate with the Jewish Community Relations Council and United Jewish Appeal Federation, and participated as an invited guest of The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to bridge relationships between New York and China.
Founded in 1996, the THRIVE Network is a 501(c)(3) social services agency dedicated to meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families who are in need of crucial services to enhance their lives. Every day THRIVE supports more than 1,000 individuals and their families in New York City and New Jersey.
- Transcript – Charles A. Archer
- Website – http://www.thethrivenetwork.org
You can listen and enjoy the full discussion with “Guest” in our podcast, but here are some of the highlights.
Ways to Develop as a Leader
In the discussion with Charles about how he developed himself as a leader, his main point was the importance of investing in your own education. He went to school, training classes, any place he could find education on being a better leader. He also observed leaders in action. He wanted to learn from people who had already led on a much larger scale. He found places where he could learn how to become a better leader, how to effectively communicate and how to deal with employee relations and human resources.
Some nonprofit leaders think they don’t have the time or money to invest in themselves for leadership training. Running an organization is very demanding and funds are often tight. Charles’ answer to this is there are a lot of cost effective options and a person has more time than they think for training. Inexpensive options he found were audio tapes or CDs which you can listen to while driving, videos to watch when you are at home, support groups, mentor, and colleagues. Even activities like watching the news, looking at movies and watching TV shows can provide lessons on what is good – or not good – to do.
Leadership Through Consensus: Being Present, Messaging and Accountability
Charles believes in building a culture of consensus. One important aspect of this is spending time with new employees when they first start.
“Not just to… welcome them, but to give them my perspective on who the organization is and where we’re going and what’s important to the people that we serve and the families that trust us and the funders and all the other supporters. I find that employees, at the beginning of their interaction with the organization, really appreciated hearing from the leader of the organization, which was very good for all of us.”
Messaging the values of the organization is another important aspect of consensus building. The messaging becomes part of the organization’s motto, around the central office, and in all of the literature about the company. Then people know that they are accountable every day for the success of that message. This also includes spending time mixing with the community and letting them know the good things the organization is doing.
Don’t Wait to Make Necessary Staff Changes
When asked about his biggest learning experiences, Charles talks about the leadership transition period when he first started.
“People have a tendency not to support things that they don’t either understand, are fully informed about or agree with. In my period of transition from one leader to another, not making those staff changes early on in my leadership probably was the biggest learning experience. There were employees that didn’t want to see change. There were people who didn’t understand it or couldn’t appreciate it or didn’t have enough information to make themselves comfortable. I think sometimes prolonging staffing changes that don’t support the team really do have the ability to stifle growth, to stifle performance, to stifle culture and consensus, and take away from the camaraderie that you as a leader want.”
In these types of circumstances, Charles believes you have the responsibility to your service delivery, funders and families, and to other employees to not to have that person as a member of your team.
Generational Conflict: Immediacy vs. Intentionality
One challenge of leadership is the difference in thinking between the younger and older generations. Charles shared about the difference in how we process, evaluate and build our reputation, as well as the differences in working styles. The younger generation tends to come in and want immediate change. That’s great, but they first need to understand the culture and the process – the legalities, fiscal issues, the participatory nature of making decisions, etc.
It’s Your Responsibility to Invest in Your Learning
Charles’ parting words of advice are to invest in your own learning. Don’t wait for your employer or anyone else to educate you. Invest in your own education and advancement. Go beyond what your organization provides and both you and your organization will benefit.