Leaders make things happen. With a vision for the future, we figure out how to get there. A strategic plan defines the future and creates the steps to get there. Start with why…why we exist, what problem we solve, what value we provide. Then we identify our unique value proposition, the compelling reason for others to be attracted to us and to participate. Leaders are those who do the following three things:
- Get things done;
- Know how things get done;
- Influence others
My definition of leadership might be too simple for many. But any person in any organization, even the person making coffee for a meeting, can accomplish those three things and qualify as a leader at an appropriate level.
Leaders transform leaders who transform organizations that transform lives.
– Hugh Ballou
The organization’s leader (that’s you) transforms the culture by transforming followers into leaders, thereby setting the stage for transformation and transition. But leaders rarely, if ever, work on a succession plan. Leaders do not regularly establish a transition process for their own eventual exit from the position they currently hold. Transitions require the following things:
1. Letting go of the status quo: We like things the way they are. Even though people complain and think things could be better, they resist change. Letting go of the past is a key to future success. I address the fear of change by substituting the word transformation. It’s not avoiding the subject; it’s identifying a new paradigm to focus on. People are afraid of letting go because of fear of loss, when the new paradigm could be much more fulfilling. Our role as leader is to assist people in embracing the paradigm shift of continuing improvement. Once the new standard is comfortable, few, if any, will have the fear of loss.
2. Defining the future: There’s a neutral zone of brainstorming and envisioning that is helpful in moving from the past to the future. Actively engage all stakeholders in a meaningful discussion. The energy that comes with envisioning possibilities helps the shift needed in moving forward without fear. Pace this stage so that not too many people and not too much process are changed in a short time. No organization can sustain too much change or too many changes in a short period. You rarely need to rush. Have patience and allow others to receive the information, digest it, and then to implement the key steps forward.
3. Equipping the culture for the future: First, put ideas into writing and in sequence. Developing plans that are co-created by every participant ensures buy-in at every level. Remember: nobody changes the oil in a rental car because they don’t own it. The biggest part of transition is engaging participants in planning and implementing the journey as their own. They’ll connect to the outcomes with their passion for the vision and mission, and see themselves as key players. Purposeful, engaged, passion-driven cultures inspire others as players in transition.
To facilitate a meaningful conversation, use this evaluation tool. First, define what you are evaluating. Are you reviewing team skills, systems, board effectiveness, effectiveness in the team’s work? Then three components are created by the team, which will reveal key items and allow them to see value in driving future results.
First: identify What’s Working, or What We Do Well, or What to Keep
Second: define What Needs Changing or What to Stop
Third: find New Things to Consider or What to Start
Lead the group in creating an action plan from the data collected, and mentor, coach, and train them on the skills needed.
You are the leader. Planners are doers. Keep your name off of to-do lists to be able to support the journey and equip the teams. Leaders embrace transitions, especially in ourselves.
Hugh Ballou is a Transformational Leadership Strategist and President and Founder of SynerVision Leadership Foundation. A musical conductor for forty years, Hugh has written eight books on Transformational Leadership, and works with leaders in religious organizations and business and nonprofit communities as executive coach, process facilitator, trainer, and motivational speaker, teaching leaders the fine-tuned skills employed every day by orchestral conductors.
This article is reprinted from Issue #9 of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today so that you won’t miss other actionable articles that will help you run your nonprofit organization with less pain and more gain!
Join Hugh Ballou and Russell Dennis and their guests on our weekly Tuesday afternoon Nonprofit Exchange at 2 pm Eastern time.
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As the famous British Composer and Conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams once said, “Music does not reveal all of its secrets to just one person.” If you replace the word “Music” with the word “Leadership” or “Team” or “Strategy” etc., then we all give and receive value from others. That’s the spirit of the Tuesday afternoon Nonprofit Exchange encounters, sponsored by SynerVision Leadership Foundation’s “Community for Community Builders.”
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