Part 1 of 4
Why do some organizations succeed and some fail? Given similar demographics and models in the same market, why does one business thrive and one struggle? We realize that any given community can only support (with the available resources) so many grocery stores, pizza parlors, and burger joints. In the non-profit world, competition, while not as visible as in the for-profit world, is still very real. Leading for excellence is one of the keys which determine the success or failure of any given venture, whether it be non-profit or for-profit, private or public. Excellence is key. It is not enough that a leader is charismatic, dynamic and in fact “excellent;” that excellent leader must lead for excellence in his or her team and organization. Excellence needs to be the culture and vision of the organization, from the CEO all the way down to the janitor. Excellence occurs where we have the convergence of skillful thought and planning in four main areas: Selection & Training, and Vision & Outlook, Attitude & Energy, Strategy & Planning,
Selection & Training:
It all begins here and is illustrated by the following three points.First: Leaders must select, train, and sustain people to find meaning in their work and place them where this is most likely to occur. This will occur when a system is designed to address this in the three areas mentioned (selection, training, and sustaining). It starts in the “front-end” hiring process. Then we need to provide training that fosters this and as leaders we must continually seek to sustain our employees’ feelings of fulfillment.
Second: As a lover of gardening, I have spent hours upon hours - graph paper in hand, planning the lay out of a vegetable garden. I take into consideration things like: sun exposure, amount of shading of the plants they would be growing next to, harvest and replanting schedules, fertilizer types, drainage and watering needs, pest attraction, etc. I love this analogy to systems and leadership. A job of a leader, like a gardener, is to lead people (and plants in a garden) to be a part of a system rather than just a collection of parts (or plants). When we are part of something greater rather than a collection of parts, this can lead to a fraternity of sorts that provides added strength and resiliency. For leaders to accomplish this they must have a proficient understanding of group dynamics. A leader must understand and know his people in order to know where in the group dynamic the employee fits the system. This is a function of a great HR person who will work closely with executive staff.
Third (and leading to the next area): All staff, not just leadership, needs to be converted to serve the mission and values. All roads – All programs – All activities BOTH lead to AND emanate from Values and
. A leader exudes the mission and values of the organization. Mission
Leaders must 1) be in tuned to the front end process of selection and training and helping get employees to get their personal needs met while at the same time 2) be in tuned with the group dynamic and see where people fit to meet the needs of the system all the while they are getting their own needs met. Then 3) while people are getting their own needs met and the system is getting its needs met, leaders must see that both people and system are meeting the needs of the mission and values and that the mission and values are conversely meeting the needs of the people and system.