Leaders As Hosts Q&A Series: Rep. Sandra Cano (LCF)

Rhode Island leaders are asked about "Leaders as Hosts," LRI's 2018 theme.

Leadership Rhode Island recently asked Sandra Cano (LCF), AVP Business & Community Development at Navigant Credit Union, about her perspective on LRI’s 2018 theme, “Leader As Host.”

What does it mean to you to be an effective Leader As Host?

An effective Leader as Host creates the spaces and opportunities necessary for people to come together, create and move projects forward. This person does not lead autonomously and does not limit themselves to serving others. Instead, they enable and engage people to rise to the occasion.

What has been your proudest professional or personal moment as a Leader As Host?

One of my proudest moments in this role has been organizing small business owners in Central Falls to work together towards finding solutions to their economic and marketing challenges. Our theme is, “Business Together for a Stronger CommUNITY.” Many of these businesses are small and work with very limited resources, including time. Being able to bring them together and harness their collective experience and energy has been very rewarding.

When does the Leader As Host style not work well?

There are occasions where people are reluctant to step forward and expect someone to make the first move or set an example. If no one is willing to take that first step, then sometimes the most practical solution is to do it yourself and empower others to follow. Then you can return to the leader as host model.

In an era of blockbuster superhero movies and a U.S. President who stated during his recent campaign, “I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order,” is Leader As Host an outdated concept or one not applicable to current times?

I think it’s more applicable than ever. Some people have always been attracted by the idea that one person can fix a situation, primarily because they are afraid or reluctant to step up themselves. Even in those situations where a leader has to set an example, it should always be with the objective of empowering others to do the same, and not position themselves as the one person who can fix a problem.

Why, if at all, should Leadership Rhode Island emphasize this leadership style?

Regardless of the context, empowering people to act is a winning strategy. Once people have the opportunity to feel that their action produces a reaction, they are often motivated to continue their participation. That’s good for everyone.

Who in Rhode Island in addition to your fellow honorees would you have share the stage with you as an effective Leader As Host? Who do you most admire?

I can think of two great examples of leaders as hosts, Central Falls Mayor, James Diossa and Secretary of State, Nellie Gorbea. They come from very different socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, yet they share the desire to empower others around them, to help build networks and to help people find their own voice. Beyond the day-to-day politics, they have been working hard to engage young people and other Rhode Islanders whose voices are rarely heard to get involved and be noticed in a thoughtful way. This is very powerful.

What Rhode Island problem or challenge do you think could be better resolved with an effective Leader(s) As Host to convene?

Increasing the quality of our public education is an ongoing challenge that will not be solved by continued finger pointing or simply by increasing available resources. All sides of the conversation bring value and have important points however this gets lost in the back and forth over testing, unions and demographics.

* Learn more about “Leaders As Hosts” through the online essay, “Leadership In the Age of Complexity: From Leader to Host,” by Margaret Wheatley and Debbie Frieze.