A: Leadership may be as much the result of introspection as it is the result of successful execution. Self-knowledge triggers the kind of action that makes strong leadership.
Several gifted analysts give useful guidelines for addressing leadership and its many forms. Recently, I have been leafing through, The Self-Aware Leader (Daniel P. Gallagher and Joseph Costal, The Self-Aware Leader: A Proven Model for Reinventing Yourself. American Society for Training & Development, 2012) which is a book endorsed by Michael Brown, the CEO and co-founder of the Boston-based, not-for-profit organization City Year, Inc. The authors tout self-awareness as the defining attribute for middle managers who aspire to higher levels of leadership noting that self-awareness operates as “the foundation of reinvention.” Additionally, the authors suggest self-awareness serves as both “binoculars” and “compass” allowing a leader to anticipate what is coming down the line “with ample time to navigate” while staying on track and feeling confident about changes in direction (16).
It is also noted that at the middle management level, most managers are either people oriented or they are task oriented. The people-oriented leaders focus on relationship building, influence and communication (Gallagher and Costal, 6). Their task-oriented peers focus on achieving results. Significantly, the authors note that higher up the management chain, these distinctions tend to disappear. The reason for this is that when managing “a more complex team” or multiple teams, it is necessary to find balance to succeed which is where self-awareness comes into play (Gallagher and Costal, 6).
Much of the Gallagher and Costal’s analysis focuses on how professional and emotional self-awareness affect overall leadership acumen and the many minute ways in which enhanced self-awareness can and does improve overall leadership (10-12). Self-awareness is the base which then connects with “pillars of reinvention” including:
Let us examine the idea that self-awareness is the basis of leadership, and that the distinguishing feature defining the highest level of leadership involves self-knowledge and the ability to reinvent self. This is profound. Recently, as we recruiters have counseled various levels of professional clients, it has come clear that major contributors to overall success, beyond mere competence, are flexibility and state of mind. This self-awareness concept draws on the attitudes and knowledge that help create internal, personal balance.
Even in career planning, a participant’s attitude toward feedback and set-backs is telling. Professionals who are not particularly self-aware tend to dwell on negative scenarios, set-backs and controversy, and they get “stuck” in a model that stifles growth and mobility. Those who tend to demonstrate resilience and have an internal sense of self will see difficult circumstances in a more positive light while keeping a focus on solutions. This second group exhibits self-awareness and, therefore, leadership. As the authors note, “[i]n order to stay relevant you need to reinvent and in order to reinvent you must be self-aware” (Gallagher and Costal, 29).
Your trusted Chief Operations Officer has taken a dream job at an international organization, and your local not-for-profit needs to rehire someone to take her place. What steps can you take to create a space for her successor? How do you draft the position description to attract and explain the role to the next COO?
This scenario is actually quite complex. Every departure holds a multi-part story. It does not really matter whether a professional was asked to resign, voluntarily took cues or moved on to wonderful new opportunity. No matter the details leading to the departure, in the background are some unspoken goals and expectations that were probably not met.
In the case of the employee who accepted another opportunity, the unmet goal probably had to do with her own career prospects within the organization. She rightly sensed her opportunities to move up in her current role were limited, so, she joined an organization that seemed to meet the immediate goal for upward mobility and affirmation.
In the case of less pleasant separations, there may be many unmet (unspoken) goals at hand. The employer organization may have had performance expectations that weren’t met. On the side of the employee, the unmet or mismatched expectations may have involved reporting relationships, professional development opportunities, compensation, overall morale or the corporate culture. Such factors directly impact employee performance and perceptions of the workplace. As painful as it might be, it is healthy to confront any and all of these issues prior to taking on the new hire.
In a year of higher-than-average unemployment, many working in nonprofits are finding they are providing increasing levels of services to their clientele. For example, homeless shelters have seen a dramatic increase in first-time homeless families which is often caused by job loss.
It is our belief that direct services continues to be the largest area for anticipated growth as a result of the increased demand in services from the American public as they continue to be faced with the challenges of unemployment, job loss, foreclosures and other issues related to economic hardship and related stress resulting from having to live on less.
Independence Day got me thinking about the meaning of the word independence, which led me to wonder if I could come up with a strong, positive leadership trait for each letter of the alphabet. Here is my unscientific, yet empirical, list of qualities consistently demonstrated by leaders I admire:
Adaptability, Agility – In a world rife with change and unpredictability, knowing when it is time to flex and when it is time to stay firm is a critical leadership skill as is the ability to reinvent, renew and change with the times.
Boldness – The timid, fearful leader is a contradiction in terms. People follow those who have the courage to think differently from the crowd, to say what they think and who are ready to take risks and action.
What’s the point of any organization? “To make money,” says the businessperson. “To fulfill our mission,” says the non-profit person. And so begins the false debate that keeps the two worlds separate and often leads to missed opportunities and wasted potential. If all organization leaders recognized that both financial viability and an inspiring mission are essential, they could then focus on the key levers that would make their organization effective, sustainable and healthy, thus transforming the experience of work for so many people which, in turn, would transform the performance and results of the organizations they serve.
Here are some guidelines for how to do this. Isn’t it time for businesses and non-profits both to take these principles more seriously and put them into practice?
In my previous post, I made a case for the use of salary ranges as the foundation of a formal compensation program for nonprofit organizations. Particularly for organizations experiencing or have experienced significant growth, the use of salary ranges can go a long way toward ensuring salaries are equitable and competitive while, at the same time, managing compensation costs. We also considered the importance of ranges as a communications tool clarifying for employees their compensation opportunities with the organization as well as the relationship between pay and performance.
In a recent post, compensation consultant Ann Bares questions whether salary ranges, long a staple of compensation programs among America’s companies and organizations, are still a useful tool given the relatively slow pace of salary annual growth during the past two decades. There is no question that administering salaries — and, in particular, differentiating rewards according to performance — is challenging in what I’ve long described as a “four percent world” (or, perhaps, for the past two years, a “zero to three percent world”). However, I believe that for the vast majority of nonprofit organizations, salary ranges remain an important and effective tool. This is especially true for growing nonprofits, which find themselves adding staff and needing to ensure that salaries are equitable and competitive while simultaneously managing compensation costs.
“Because I said so.”
This exchange, perhaps a staple of parent/child relationships, has no place in management. In fact, communicating to employees the why of their work — the context, value and relevance of their work — is vital to both training efforts and to effective coaching. Further, recent research, including a study conducted in a nonprofit fundraising environment, suggests that employees who know how their work positively impacts others are more productive than those who don’t.