Understanding and Practicing Shared Leadership
Many say that the position of CEO is a lonely position and that you often walk the leadership journey alone. Before I took the Clare Rose Sabbatical, I too shared this belief, but this experience has taught me that shifting to a culture of shared leadership, is a better way to lead.
This is difficult shift to make because it requires the vulnerability of its leader and the entire team’s trust of each other. But, if you can live and lead from this place, you will find that your role as CEO is never lonely has better results for everyone.
Fieldstone leadership Network helped me understand shared leadership and put it into practice at Promises2Kids.
My sabbatical was the ultimate exercise in letting go, to help our organization grow. The preparation and work that my entire team did helped us trust each other and learn to share responsibility and meaningful decision making. We spent a year preparing and growing as a team, learning about our individual and collective strengths and using this approach, run the most impactful organization we can furthering our mission to support foster children.
While I was away I had the faith in my team to fully operate and lead the org.. I never doubted their abilities or worried about decisions that they would make while I was away. This was a message that I had not truly conveyed to the team prior to the sabbatical, but one that is essential for me to express with my team.
This trust allowed me to grow personally in ways that changed my life and my family. I was able to focus on my life with my wife and son, being fully present. I connected with my son at a critical time in his life, that I had not been able to do while I was so focused on my work. I learned that creating space for all aspects of my life, helps me not only at home , but it helps me be a better leader at work.
This is what I see as the ripple effect of The Clare Rose Sabbatical Program as part of the Fieldstone Leadership Network San Diego. They invested in my personal and professional growth which inspired leadership of the team, and growth of the organization.
Today, Promises2Kids is stronger than ever, making an even deeper impact in the community and where it counts the most, with our foster children and youth who rely on us.
As a commitment to this growth, we established a staff development fund and continue to invest in our staff, providing leadership opportunities for others across the agency to help them share in the joy of personal and professional growth.
Thank you, Janine Mason and Michael Carr for coaching me through this entire experience over the past two years. I am grateful to Fieldstone Leadership Network San Diego and to Anne Vincent and the Clare Rose Foundation who understands the impact that this has not only on the individual on sabbatical, but on those around that person, the organization and then entire community.
Tonya L. Torosian, MSW, CFRE, CEO, Promises2Kids
Tonya Torosian is the Chief Executive Officer of Promises2Kids, a non-profit founded over 40 years ago. Best known for building the Polinsky Children’s Center, launching Guardian Scholars in San Diego and starting Camp Connect, the first camp on the west coast specifically for siblings who are separated in foster care. Promises2Kids is dedicated to creating a brighter future for foster children.
Tonya has led Promises2Kids for the past 10 years, expanding its annual budget from $1.8M to $6.9M, and increased services to foster youth across each of its programs, and today, Promises2Kids has become the leader in support for foster youth pursuing community college or university education with over 200 youth served annually.
Torosian’s work in child welfare and nonprofit management spans nearly 30 years and three states. She developed programs and policies for child and youth-based organizations in Illinois, Arizona and California. A tireless advocate for children and youth throughout her entire career, Torosian began her career first as a social worker, then as an executive charged with developing strategic alliances and implementing processes, systems, and policies.
Tonya is a certified fundraising executive and received her Master of Social Work degree from Arizona State University with an emphasis in Planning, Administration and Community Practice. She serves as a Board Member of LEAD San Diego and The San Diego Women’s Foundation. She is a past President of the San Diego chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Each week during our 40th anniversary year, a member of our Network will share what Fieldstone means to them and how being a part of this learning and leadership community has impacted them and the work they do to serve the community.
If you have a story you would like to contribute to our collection, please contact Janine Mason.