Using the lenses, practices and tools of productive conflict management, economics and business operations, Tessendorf Consulting empowers leaders and managers to discover and take steps to make themselves and their organizations more resilient and socially impactful. Tessendorf Consulting enables these leaders and managers to make informed decisions by drawing on the areas of conflict management, governance and executive leadership, and social business and housing development.
Personal and Professional Vision Statement
For over three decades, I have been called to join with others to build positive and enduring outcomes. It started with applying conflict resolution techniques to build safety, human rights and new local structures in South Africa in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s. This then took on an international flavor as I worked with a tapestry of non-profit, community-based and coalitional organizations in Haiti, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and the USA. These initiatives addressed housing, health, education and the arts, as well as the organizations which made these possible.
Building is an inherent part of my family story. Those who have gone before me have practiced yeoman service as they built families, houses and businesses. Building homes with Habitat for Humanity is not just a metaphor for building organizations and healthy community. It has also equipped me with a deepening spiritual awareness and with leadership opportunities and insights to grow organizations, both as an Executive Director and as a consultant to others.
The continent of Africa was where I was born, raised and educated. It has helped to shape me and I realize with each passing day how its wisdom continues to inform my worldview and actions. The wisdom about governance and leadership that emerged during South Africa’s struggle to overcome apartheid and institutionalize democratic values and practices is a gift to the world. I see it as my duty to honor those who made that gift possible by sharing it with the organizations and leaders that I am called to work with.
Today I believe that building strong, local organizations is key if we are to create meaning to overcome the growing sense of alienation and rage that surrounds us; improve our fellow citizens’ quality of life; shorten our supply chains; address historical inequalities and, model democracy in action. I believe that institutions matter, but that they need to be nimble and responsive to changing conditions if they are to remain relevant and be viewed as being “too essential to fail”.
Enduring institutions, be they families, businesses, non-profits, congregations, or government bodies, embrace conflict to grow and serve others. All-too-often, leaders and organizations adopt a passive-aggressive approach towards conflict management. Conflict management requires leaders who call conflict “… my old friend” whom “I’ve come to see … again.” These leaders embrace conflict and model how it is managed in all of the settings that they participate in.
Enduring peace means “Peace with justice” and that we move to peace building. This requires us to address the lack of social and economic opportunities that plague many communities in the United States and around the world. Addressing these opportunities requires not only innovative ideas, but durable, local businesses and organizations which strengthen the local economic and social fabric, create inclusive opportunities and which produce, and are led by, effective leaders.
Over the past 25 years, I have aspired to, and been a part of, the executive team at several organizations. But now it is time to pass the baton while continuing the race so that I can have even greater impact on organizations beyond those I am affiliated with. I view my evolving role as that of one who passes the materials to the organizations’ builders.
I know the joy and the loneliness that come with being an Executive Director and a Board President. I have been fortunate to celebrate good times along with failure, professional disappointments and organizational challenges. So now I want to share those experiences with leaders and support them as they grow personally, professionally and organizationally into all that their Creator intended for them.
July 18th 2020