Fifteen years ago I was asked to write a leadership development plan for a non profit organization. We had 110 employees, 25 directors and 400 volunteers serving 10,000-15,000 people each month.
In my institutional naiveté I suggested that instead of developing Leaders we should cultivate and foster leadership practices across the entire organization.
How? By focusing on what leaders do – the actual activities of leaders.
What are those?
Here’s my list: paying attention, initiative, responsibility, listening, action, curiosity, encouragement, follow through, wisdom and love.
Since the job of “Leaders” in my organization was ostensibly to deliver these actions to the 400 volunteers who in turn would deliver them to the 10,000 I had to figure out a way to do that without “using” people up while getting things done because leadership is also very much about getting your work done through other people.
As noble as our goals were, when it came to relational dysfunction, we were just as ruthless as any for profit organization. Our mission drove us to “use” people and then dispense with them. Consequently we suffered high turn over rates on staff and among volunteers.
That frustration sent me on a search to develop a system that enables organizations to consistently “deliver attention” using pre-existing relational networks and hierarchies which I will announce soon
It’s True! You really don’t have time for everyone, but everyone has time for someone.
Real Leaders see to it that everyone pays attention to someone.
“Attention is the currency of leadership” Ron Heifetz