205 – Influence Through Overlapping Networks

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Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak revisit the topic of partnerships to create a larger impact. They discuss the necessity for diverse partners and how to create successful and lasting partnerships.

Key Points

  • Culture often changes from the top down. Engage “elites” who are outside of the centermost position of prestige.
  • Find avenues of agreement instead of focusing on differences.
  • Influence happens in exciting ways when the networks of elites and the institutions they lead overlap.
  • Change will mean conflict — don’t be scared of this.
  • The more diverse your partnerships are, the stronger your net is going to be.


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Dave [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast. This is episode 205, Influence Across Overlapping Networks.

Production Credits [00:00:10] Produced by Innovate Learning, maximizing human potential.

Dave [00:00:30] Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking Podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak. And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Some of you know that I am also the host of a podcast called Coaching for Leaders. I’ve been hosting it just about as long as we’ve been producing and Ending Human Trafficking, it began back in 2011. And I help leaders to discover wisdom through insightful conversations. Sandie, has been a great partner on that show and that she has been a guest before and listens regularly. And recently, we decided to have Sandie back on to talk about how to really influence across overlapping networks. And as you’ve heard here on this show many times, Sandie is just so brilliant in how she engages in partnerships with organizations around the world. And recently I sat down with her and we did a detailed interview on how to really influence across overlapping networks and we’re sharing that interview here also as Episode 205. So, here is my interview with Sandie Morgan on Coaching for Leaders:

Dave [00:01:49] Sandie, I am so glad to have you back on the show.

Sandie [00:02:44] Thank you so much, Dave. I love listening to Coaching for Leaders and often share it as a resource to my friends that are trying to figure out how to lead well.

Dave [00:02:54] Well, I am so grateful to have you as a friend, first of all, and as a professional partner in so many capacities. And you and I, I don’t know if I guess we’ve said this maybe on the Ending Human Trafficking show, but we talk a lot on how to collaborate and share ideas. And you, I know, are borrowing things from Coaching for Leaders, and I am often borrowing your wisdom and expertise and thinking about partnerships and collaboration. And that’s I think the focus of our conversation today, is how can we, any of us as leaders, do a better job at this. And one thing that you run into a lot in your work as you have become known across the world really for your expertise in helping the world address this huge issue with human trafficking. And a lot of people reach out to you for advice and for mentorship. And actually, before that, maybe we should say a bit for those who don’t know about the issue of human trafficking. Could you frame it a little bit for us of what is the issue and why do you and so many people have your attention on it?

Sandie [00:03:58] Well I think human trafficking is not something new, it is old. If you go back to ancient literature you can find examples, in biblical stories think of Joseph whose brothers sold him. But in modern contemporary culture, we have now identified slavery as against basic human rights and human dignity, and so many traditional forms of labor exploitation are no longer tolerated, not just in the West but internationally. So, in 2000, the Palermo protocol identified when anyone was recruited or obtained for the purpose of slave labor or commercial sexual exploitation, they would be held accountable and prosecutable. And that the victims would be eligible to receive support. So, educating our community has been almost 20 years from an international perspective. The U.S. passed our Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000 and the Trafficking in Persons Report now that came out in June is the 19th report that they have produced. And it’s chronicled, the global rise to understanding by governments as well as not NGOs and other organizations communities of education and faith-based communities to understand not just how to identify and prosecute the bad guys but really a redirection to how do we prevent this and build communities that are safe for everyone.

Dave [00:05:55] There has been so much more attention given to this issue in recent years as you just mentioned, which is wonderful because the focus of the world has become more on this issue as a problem that needs to be addressed. My sense is this is created also an interesting scenario for you personally and leading the Center in that because so much more attention is being painted this issue, a lot of people reach out to you on a regular basis and say, “Hey I’d like to help, and oh, by the way, I’m going to be starting an organization to address this and to reach out to you for mentoring or advice.” That happens a lot, doesn’t it?

Sandie [00:06:33] Oh it does. And it’s actually one part of my job that I don’t like because I have to tell people, “I don’t think you should start something. I think you should become partners with someone who’s already doing something.” My sense is that there are so many nonprofits now all fighting human trafficking that the overhead alone could probably fund an anti-human trafficking program in one single country. This is not the best way to do something. And I actually remember having this conversation walking along the streets in Athens with a close friend and mentor saying, “should I start a non-profit, or work for the government, or work in education?” And I was at that time working as the coordinator for the Global Center for Women and Justice at Vanguard University and it became very clear in that conversation that the academic house was the best place for me. And that’s when I started really studying the issues so that I could be a voice, and make a difference and calling other people to that. When you introduced me, Dave, I always feel a little insecure when people call me an expert.

Dave [00:08:05] Yeah, I hear you, me too.

Sandie [00:08:07] And actually, I don’t think that anyone that I know is a global expert on human trafficking. I think what I’m really good at is getting experts around me in my community. That’s the real key to ending human trafficking, is building a coalition, a collaborative model where we’re all working together. Which is why I say to people don’t go start another thing it’s going to take you. It’s like if you plant an olive tree, it takes seven years to get your first harvest. What could you do if you started working with something that was already mature and brought your expertise to that?

Dave [00:08:54] And isn’t it the case that so much of what we term expertise is in a lot of cases what you’ve just described its relationships, it’s having relationships and partnerships along with the knowledge. And you’ve actually zeroed in on the exact reason I wanted you to share some of your wisdom with us today because you, more so than any other person I know, you are so good at bringing people together- people and organizations that in some cases have extremely different agendas, very different belief systems, and yet you’re able to find a way to find a common path forward for people to collaborate together. And I’m really curious how you do that and I know you’ve used some principles over the years on a framework that’s helped you to think about that. I wonder if you could give us a bit of an insight of just how your thinking has evolved on this?

Sandie [00:09:53] Well, I was very influenced by an author I read back in 2010 by James Davison Hunter and he’s a sociologist at the University of Virginia and founder and executive director of their Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. I was fascinated with his book, To Change the World, especially as it related to ending human trafficking because he used William Wilberforce as an exemplar for cultural change. And if you remember Wilberforce was credited with ending the transatlantic slave trade. And he didn’t do that by starting up his own nonprofit. He actually became a member of parliament, he had his own group that he met regularly with- that was his kind of think tank. And his approach to ending slavery in that context was very multi-dimensional, lots of overlapping networks. And people who spend much time with me, they start counting how many times I say overlapping networks.

Dave [00:11:12] Yeah. That’s a term that came up in our conversation about this episode is this framework of overlapping networks. What is an overlapping network for you?

Sandie [00:11:22] So, you know we do Ensure Justice every year at Vanguard University.

Dave [00:11:26] At the annual conference for the Global Center.

Sandie [00:11:27] Yes. And when we do that, people have wanted me to just address one issue for one population. And I began to express to people that if we look at our human trafficking victim, our survivor, like a patient and you remember I’m a nurse and I used to be an operating room nurse. You did not need just a doctor in the room. You had to have a doctor and a whole team of other support professionals to take care of one person. So, you have to ask, who else needs to be in the room? Who else is going to be critical to the lifesaving process going on here? And that is what I started to ask. So, if I’m working on children who are vulnerable to being exploited online, who all do I need to have in the room? Well, I need to have the teachers that see them more than anybody else during the week, I need to have their parents, I need to have community leaders that can control access to internet spaces at schools and libraries and community centers, I need to have the law enforcement people who actually are going to prosecute the cyber exploiters. All those people need to be in the same space and to get them there when they don’t normally meet together, they have all their separate conferences, that takes a lot of planning. But the magic that happens isn’t by everybody sitting in the row listening to speakers, although that helps build appreciation across disciplines when they hear their counterparts either in law enforcement, social services, or education- but it’s what happens when they’re eating lunch, when they’re drinking coffee, that’s what happens. The overlapping networks share expertise and experience so that you build relationships, and isn’t that what partnership is about?

Dave [00:13:43] Indeed. And something that you were really brilliant at is, and I’m wondering how intentional this is for you, you find a way to find a place of agreement with people even if they may disagree on 80 percent of things or see the world through a very different lens. You work to really find an agreement. How do you go about that?

Sandie [00:14:05] So, when I first started studying Hunter and his example of Wilberforce, he had four principles that he applied. And the first was that culture changes top-down. And so, having a law is a place to begin you can pull people together because they all need to understand the law. The second principle is the idea of elites. And he described elites as academics, spiritual leaders, thought leaders and they’re not in the centermost stage of prestige. They’re not the politicians, they actually are on the sidelines, so they have a little different perspective. And they create content, they create spiritual content, they create academic content. And then you bring these together in these overlapping networks and it happens very intentionally for me. When we look at what happens when we find where we agree instead of where we disagree. And this is where I diverted from Hunter’s model because he really focused on conflict. But I think because I work with women, I did several years work with women in higher education in Iraq. And if you think about its Iraq is predominantly a Muslim country, I’m at a Christian university. So, one of my biggest concerns is that we would have a religious conflict, and it didn’t happen. What happened is we found that we both cared about our families and our children. And when I bring together people at Ensure Justice and we talk about the links to substance abuse and child abuse, we talk about the links to Internet safety and keeping our children safe. We find common ground that we all care about.

Dave [00:16:11] And that’s the starting point then for the relationship and the Partnership for what you do next.

Sandie [00:16:15] Exactly because we all care about the same thing. Can we share the same outcomes and still reach our individual goals? Absolutely, but it’s going to work better if we do it together.

Dave [00:16:31] Yeah, and the tendency that a lot of us have. I know my tendency, Sandie, and I mean we see this in our culture right now too- is we think about engaging with another organization, another industry, another industry partner and we see the differences right away and we tend to zero in on those differences. And you have very consciously taken the opposite approach and how you build relationships is you are conscious of the differences, of course, as you just mentioned with you know the difference and that religious beliefs and organizations, but you lead with where our commonalities and our strengths. And I am curious with that, do the differences come in? Does that, later on, cause a problem? How do you navigate that?

Sandie [00:17:21] Oh absolutely. You do have to navigate the differences. At one point, especially for instance, you’re a victim service provider, you’re a law enforcement officer, and you have conflicting absolute goals. And so how do you manage that? Well you can still get to the end of the page where you need to end, but you have to go a little slower and maybe a more circuitous route, but you can both achieve your goals. That means though, you have to have not just respect for the other partner in this, but you also have to trust them.

Dave [00:18:10] What’s a time that you’ve really seen that work?

Sandie [00:17:21] One of my favorite examples of law enforcement and victim service provider, building that relationship, has been working with my colleague and now assistant director of the Global Center for Women and Justice, Deputy Chief Retired Derek Marsh. When I began to understand what his police officers had to report, what they had to include at the end of the day, it completely changed my outlook on what I wanted them to do for my victims. What changed was my sense of if they don’t do it the way I want them to do it, they’re not doing it right. So, my idea of what is right changed. And I had more room on my page for other ways to get to the same end destination.

Dave [00:18:19] So, taking that time to understand what they need, what their outcomes are what their goals are, then allowed you to work together to figure out a framework where both parties can get to the ultimate goal they need to get to. But a bit more of how you frame it.

Sandie [00:18:36] And here’s the part to that takes some practice, I have to set my own goals aside sometimes and wait until the right time to move forward on those goals. And sometimes I can get impatient and someone who is just learning to do this can get impatient and just want to rush in and fix it, which doesn’t build trust. You will get it done very quickly but the price is it won’t happen again.

Dave [00:19:09] How do you combat the natural human raw emotion of wanting to get things done more quickly, not only for you but also for the organizations you lead and partner with? How do you discipline yourselves and know when it’s the time to step back and to make that investment, knowing that it may not work out?

Sandie [00:19:29] I have a proverb on the wall in my office it says, “Go slow, go far. Go fast, go alone.” And that’s an important principle. And that is why this is hard and it’s why a lot of people don’t do it because you can get it done really fast if you go by yourself. But if we do this together then it’s going to last longer. [00:19:57] If you’re part of a team and you don’t show up; the team can still win. I want to be part of a team. [7.1s] And sometimes when I’m not at my best I have a team that is so amazing that we still make progress.

Dave [00:20:16] I know there are people listening thinking about what you’ve just said and they’re just saying, “Oh I’m so with you Sandie on that!” I love that long-term perspective. I love going slow, going together. And I have this partner organization, this other department or this customer that doesn’t share that value that they really want to move quickly on something. And I know you run into this too, that a very well-meaning partner, an organization, or collaborator on something really wants to move much more quickly and doesn’t want to do that due diligence. When that happens, how do you approach it?

Sandie [00:20:55] That is a very tough question. So, I try to engage that person or that organization in a conversation and give some substantive opportunities for action, but it doesn’t have to be the kind of action that is going to rush towards the end goal. So, creating something that puts things in motion. I’m not in favor of more meetings, but sometimes it means we have to have a couple of meetings. It means I need to give some people, I have students this works wonderful. They’ve got an idea, they’re going to rush into it. It’s like oh well here I’d like you to check this out and this, and give them three things to do and then meet again next week. I had an individual actually that was going to start an organization and they had a business plan. They got through my wall at the office and they were in my office and I came back from teaching a class and sat down. And so, I listened for half an hour, and listening- that’s the beginning of a relationship. And then I said here’s what I’d like to do before we meet next week. So, already we have something on the agenda, right? And I’d like you to check out these three things. And so, they did. They came back the next week and they said you know you could’ve told me that I was reinventing the wheel. I was doing this and this is going to be so much better. So, I didn’t give him the answer, I gave him a pathway to find the answer for himself. And he ended up not starting an organization and instead becoming part of another organization. And I think that we can help people find ways forward to get more action than satisfies their sense of achievement without losing the value of doing it together because it does take longer to do it together.

Dave [00:23:14] I am sometimes asked, “What is the difference between leadership and manipulation?” And I’ve thought about that over the years a bunch and I used to come up in my work with Carnegie, Sandie, thinking about How to Win Friends and Influence People right and some people would read that book and they think oh it’s a book about manipulation, and of course it can be if you use it that way. And the distinction that I’ve drawn over the years is manipulation is when you take the actions and you are in it primarily for you. And what I hear you saying in that example is I am taking the actions as a leader because I want them to win too. If I am having them explore something of their own or we’re taking some action that might be a little more secure to us than we could just go there directly. I’m doing it because I have the experience and the perspective to know that if we go along on this together and take our time to get there, then ultimately it benefits them too. And I want to come back to something you said a minute ago, you are really intentional about building diverse partnerships. And I know one of your mantras is the more diverse the partnerships are the stronger that your net is going to be. Tell me about that.

Sandie [00:24:36] Well my idea about overlapping networks I always think of a safety net. And the more lines there are, the safer that net is. So, if I’m trying to build a network I’m not thinking of dots on a screen, I’m thinking of those interwoven lines and ultimately because for me it is about justice for men, women, and children. It’s really a life-threatening risk if I’m not successful. So, overlapping networks means that I have to find partners that I might normally not be partners with because they’re important to the safety of the bigger picture. For victims and for potential victims in my community and beyond. So, it doesn’t mean I have to agree with your politics, doesn’t mean I have to agree with your religion, doesn’t mean I have to agree with your life choices. It just means that I do agree this is important and we need to work together for the good of the whole community.

Dave [00:25:55] Dale Carnegie has a phrase in How to Win Friends and Influence People called appeal to the nobler motives of let’s not get caught up in the minutia of the day and the disagreements of the politics and all those things but let’s lead first with what is really important. Sandie, you’ve demonstrated throughout your career how well you focus on that and how important that focus is of building that net of service for the people that you have the privileged influence. And it’s really exciting to see that come together so substantially and so consistently in all the work you do. I’m in awe of how well you do that and also how consistently you do that over time. And what have you changed your mind on in the last few years?

Sandie [00:26:43] Oh that’s actually kind of an easy question for me to answer. I think I used to be pretty much of a firebrand, and people called me a crusader, and I kind of thought you know one person can make a difference. And now I don’t really see it that way. I see if I try to show up by myself, there’s not as much that I can do. I can do something, but if I show up with my whole team, we can make a mountain move. We, that’s the secret, not me.

Dave [00:27:22] You’ve told me this story before of the pathology.

Sandie [00:27:26] Yes. Oh my gosh I love the pathology.

Dave [00:27:29] Would you tell that story?

Sandie [00:27:30] Sure. I lived in Greece for 10 years and I was visiting the palace of Knossos on the island of Crete. And when I went to the pantry, I saw this jug. This jar that literally was as tall as I was, maybe a little taller. And I’m only 5″1′, so that gives your listeners perspective. And they told me that they would bring it from the fields filled with grain or olives or oil, it would be hundreds of pounds. And there was a steep set of stairs, there was no elevator, nothing. How did they get it down the stairs? The people were average five feet tall and so on the outside of this peak body, there were baked into the jar handholds all the way around from the very base to the top. And there was a picture on the wall, where they had drawn ten people each with their hand on one of those grips bringing that huge jar down to the pantry. And that’s how I see the battle against human trafficking. Everybody has a place where they can grab a hold and move this issue forward together. Nobody can carry it by themselves.

Dave [00:29:00] Thank you so much for listening to my conversation with Sandie and thank you so much for the support so many of you have given to her over the years to help all of us to end human trafficking. If you would like to know more, I’m inviting you to take the first step in reaching out across your network. As Sandie mentioned in this conversation, being able to study the issues is such an important starting point. And we’re inviting you to do that, download a copy of Sandie’s book The Quick Start Guide to Ending Human Trafficking, The Five Things You Must Know. You can get it at EndingHumanTrafficking.org. It’s completely free, it’ll get you started on the key things to begin studying the issues, so that you can be a voice along with us, and ultimately make a difference. Again, that’s at endinghumantrafficking.org. And we will be back, of course, for our next regular conversation in two weeks. Have a great day. And thanks for listening.

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