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10 Innovative Social Enterprises that are Improving the World

10 Innovative Social Enterprises that are Improving the World

Some of the most innovative thinkers in the world are putting their skills to use, bringing improvements to people and places that desperately need it.

So what exactly is a social enterprise? It’s simply an endeavor that aims to improve the world and solve a complex problem. Whether it be a nonprofit, business, or other entity, social enterprises use creative ideas to change lives and better the environment. The following are 10 innovative social enterprises that will inspire you to do good.

1. Groundswell

Groundswell is an enterprise that encourages consumers to use their power for good. They address the rising cost of necessary expenses, like energy, and the falling costs of luxury items, like iPods. Through what Groundswellers call “Civic Consumption,” consumers can use their money to support responsible businesses, save money, and promote local wealth. They do this by bringing people and organizations together for purchases, making things like renewable energy cheaper and accessible to more families. Help the environment and help yourself? Win-win.

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2. Compreneurship

Compreneurship unites students and disadvantaged people to develop and execute entrepreneurial projects. In a recent project, students studying design, journalism, and business joined up with local homeless people to create and distribute an original newspaper. Disadvantaged street vendors who distributed the papers earned a whopping 150,000 euros. Basically, Compreneurship puts student projects to valuable, real-life use.

3. Arsenic Absorbent

Professor and Fulbright-Nehru scholar Arup SenGupta is researching his way to a solution for clean, safe drinking water around the world. if you don’t think arsenic poisoning is a serious problem anymore, consider the 140 million people who’ve been affected by it. From India to the US, eight countries have experienced reduced rates of arsenic poisoning since SenGupta developed the first reusable arsenic absorbent.

4. Biolite

Biolite is a start-up that uses thermoelectric technology to make wood-burning stoves clean and safe. Amazingly, the mini stoves also charge cell phones and LED lights. Biolite has worked to create efficient energy with clients like Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard, and Nike. These compact, affordable stoves make cooking easier- not only for frequent campers, but for families in 3rd world countries as well.

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5. TCK Learning Centre

The TCK Learning Centre offers low-cost education to low-income migrant workers in Hong Kong. The Centre offers English, technology, and reading courses for young maids and others migrant workers that have a desire to learn and improve their career opportunities. They also offer a variety of workshops on topics like music, bookkeeping, and video editing to students who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

6. Voidstarter

Voidstarter is an enterprise that converts vacant housing units in Dublin into short-term learning centers and entrepreneur labs. Instead of going to waste as usual, these unoccupied units are used to provide shelter for the homeless, give new entrepreneurs a place to get started, and teach unemployed people new skills. Voidstarter is essentially utilizing wasted space to help those in need generate wealth and gain independence.

7. The Jamble

The Jamble connects collaborators who want to participate in projects or make their ideas a reality. This much-needed online community is perfect for those with start-up ideas who need collaborators with various sets of expertise beyond their own. The Jamble allows users to search for projects or collaborators, enabling brilliant ideas to take shape in the real world.

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8. Swipes for the Homeless

Swipes for the Homeless is an organization founded by college students who wanted to give back to their community. Now, Swipes has grown to include multiple US colleges including Berkley, UCLA, and Northwestern University. Students have the opportunity to donate their leftover meal plan points to local homeless people. Since its inception, Swipes has donated 330,000 pounds of food.

9. Task Squad

Task Squad has created a novel incentive to volunteer: money. Volunteers ages 18-25 can sign onto Task Squad and search for temporary work from organizations and start-ups who post job assignments. Not only does the service reward and encourage volunteering, it provides quality work experience and resume builders for young people who need it.

10. Terracycle

Terracycle is a company that is changing the future of recycling, making it easier to recycle difficult items like chip bags, toothbrushes, and drink pouches. They use Brigades, or collection programs, to collect different kinds of waste. Customers can ship waste directly to the company and gain credits, which can be redeemed for cash or directed towards the nonprofit of their choice.

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Do any of these innovative social enterprise ideas get your brain churning? Head over to the EntrepreneursToolkit and find out how you can start your own enterprise and become part of a global solution.

Featured photo credit: the recruiter’s lounge via therecruiterslounge.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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