Saturday, March 5, 2016
On Leadership @LucyBurdette
"Great leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar." Jim Collins
LUCY BURDETTE: For several reasons, I've had leadership on my mind this week. One is the political circus – and I promise we won't let this discussion deteriorate into politics. But it is hard to keep from imagining which one of these folks could possibly lead our country in a positive direction...
The other reason is that I began attending a Leadership Success Academy on Thursday, run by the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys. This is designed to help all kinds of nonprofit board members improve their leadership skills. (I'm a member of the board of the Friends of the Key West Library, and the Friends' newsletter editor. Check those out here.)
I've served on lots of boards in the past, without much training. Probably the most dramatic was when a local board had deteriorated into two rival camps unable to agree on anything. I was working as a clinical psychologist, and I think for that reason was asked to take temporary chairmanship, with the goal of helping the board simmer down and move forward. The meetings up to this point had essentially been screaming matches. So I went to the first meeting as temporary chair carrying a large soup spoon, which I planned to beat on the table when necessary.
These days, nobody much remembers how all that junk was resolved, but they remember my spoon-gavel. And I mined lots of fodder from those conflicts for my third golf lovers mystery, PUTT TO DEATH. (My working title for this had been BOARD TO DEATH LOL.)
Back to the leadership academy: we were asked to do an exercise before the first meeting which helped identify our most comfortable style, or as the facilitator called it, the lens through which we see the world. The choices were the analyst (focus is on data, logic, structure, plans, policies), the caregiver (focus is on skills, attitudes, teamwork, communications), the warrior (focus is on building a power base, getting access, influencing key players), and the wizard (meaning, belief, faith, developing shared values).
Not surprisingly, I came out as a caregiver, and was least strong as a warrior. (In spite of the soup spoon incident, I don't really like taking on conflict, the way warriors do.) The idea isn't that one approach is better than another--it's that if you know yourself and how you tend to see the world, you can shift points of view, understand the other players, and become a more effective leader.
Any stories about leadership roles you've held? Or great leaders you've observed? What made them great? (Gosh we need great leaders in our world today...)