Leadership or Management: Perhaps Both

Last week I invited Bob Benson, a CEO of a number of public and for-profit companies such as VICORP Corporations and Children’s World, to speak to the graduate class I teach at Regis University. Bob has lead and managed staffs of thousands. What was most interesting to hear him talk about were the similarities in working in both for-profit and non-profit worlds.

In most situations the leader of an organization has to be both a leader and a manager constantly changing hats depending on the situations and the personalities of the people s/he is working with. Strong leadership is required when the organization has lost its focus while steady and consistent management is required after the organization has found its focus and is on a strong path.

This week, let’s look at some of these issues around the role of leadership and management in non-profit organizations.

  1. Develop a thoughtful, values driven, courageous strategic plan. This is the road map that will drive the organization to accomplish its mission. Make sure the values of the organization are clear and don’t be afraid to be courageous in stretching beyond the comfort level.
  2. Hire carefully and well. Make sure you create opportunities for people within the organization to advance, and support people with their own self-development plans.
  3. Give autonomy to people but make sure you hold people accountable for upholding the organizational values and their results.
  4. Create a climate that encourages thoughtful risk-taking. But be able to accept failure on occasion so long as the person learns from the failure.
  5. Be available as a sounding board and listen to people first rather than responding. There is a new book on leadership entitled “Wisdom of Crowds” that talks about how groups generally make better decisions than single individuals.
  6. Building and motivating your team is central to the success of any organization. It is not the talent alone, but the team that will determine success.
  7. Developing new leadership constantly should always be the goal of a good leader. Give people new responsibilities and always develop the seeds of your successor.
  8. Transforming the culture from “me” to “us” is a critical step in successfully leading and managing people. When interviewing potential new employees take note of whether the candidate talks about the “I” or the “we.” Remember it is sharing the responsibilities and building the team that will determine success.
  9. Listen and respect the opinions and views of othersbecause they can be the seeds of your own success.
  10. Being lucky is always part of the picture. Sometimes we create our own luck and other times we are just lucky.

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