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Authentic Connection

Eric Ford is a change-maker, whose drive, passion and commitment make him a stand-out heart-centered leader. It has been a privilege getting to know Eric, learning about his important work, and standing in awe of all he tackles in a given day. We are proud to highlight this incredible leader once again this month, in this week's blog. Enjoy our Q+A with Eric below, and be sure to check out his article featured in this month's issue of En Root!

This month's theme is all about heart-centered leadership. Tell us about how you interpret this theme, and how it has played a role in your personal or professional life.

Heart-centered leadership in my mind means the ability to authentically connect with members of your team to motivate and develop them. This will ultimately support the team in reaching its goals. As I grew as a leader, I tried to incorporate the best practices of those who were my mentors into my own leadership style. Personally, I have used relationship building as a core concept in my family, coaching sports and in my career.

At OutGrowth, we believe in designing the space and time to reimagine the path forward. How do you believe embracing heart-centered leadership can impact our perspective and influence our future decisions?

Embracing heart-centered leadership will allow you to strengthen relationships with your team and get their buy-in. Once your team is committed and working toward a common goal, transformation is possible.

Tell us about your most significant professional moment since the start of the pandemic.

My most significant moment since the start of the pandemic was receiving feedback from one of our funders. Our constituents reported that we had been the most consistent support program since the quarantine began. We were able to shift many of our services to the virtual space while maintaining some in-person contact using protective measures. Most importantly, we offered paid virtual training to support young people with much- needed salary throughout the pandemic.

How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook from pre-pandemic times.

This experience affirmed by belief that a group of committed people who think creatively can accomplish just about anything. Pre-pandemic, this was more of a cliché, but to actually see this in motion during very challenging times made me a believer.

What is one competency or skill you hope to develop/are developing in 2022/3?

I hope to continue to improve my public speaking and oratory skills in the coming year.

What inspires you these days?

I am inspired by the abilities, knowledge and passion of young people. I am often surprised with how confident and competent they are at their age.

At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource (book, podcast, article, anything!) you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in the next year?

I recommend the On Purpose podcast by Jay Shetty.

What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2022-3?

My next steps are to be more disciplined with self care and mindfulness, which will help when I experience anxiety. I also want to be more confident and resolute in my decision making.

Eric N. Ford, originally from Virginia and a graduate of Hampton University with a B.A. in Sociology (1993), and a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in the Nonprofit Sector from UMBC, has more than 28 years of experience in the Human Services field in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Eric is currently interim director for the Shriver Center at the University of MD – Baltimore County.


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