You’re the Boss. But are You an Effective Leader?

Nonprofit professionals often ask me about the difference between leadership and management. By mid-career, executives tend to be good managers, but not necessarily good leaders. But to move up the ladder, good leadership skills are mandatory.

There are many great leadership models, but one has particularly resonated with me: The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. James Kouzes and Barry Posner have been studying what characteristics make an effective leader for over 30 years. The researchers collected thousands of “Personal Best” stories — the experiences people recalled when asked to think of a peak leadership experience. Despite differences in people’s individual stories, their personal-best leadership experiences revealed similar patterns of behavior.

The study found that when leaders are at their personal best, they:

  • Model the Way. Leaders clarify values by finding their voice and affirming shared ideals; they set the example by aligning their actions with shared values.
  • Inspire a Shared Vision. Leaders envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities; they enlist others by appealing to shared aspirations.
  • Challenge the Process. Leaders search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and looking outward for innovative ways to improve; they experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes.
  • Enable Others to Act. Leaders foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships; they strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence.
  • Encourage the Heart. Leaders recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence; they celebrate values and victories by creating a spirit of community.

Get to Know Your Personality Style, then Learn How to Adapt It to Other Styles

Do you ever wonder why you get along with some people better than others? Why some people have a hard time making a decision while others move forward quickly; maybe too quickly? Or why some people approach a task in a very methodical way while others scramble to meet deadlines at the last minute? Leaders know.

We each have preferences for how we engage and interact with others, make decisions, and work as part of a team. Understanding yourself, recognizing your own communication style preferences, and learning to recognize the preferences of others is the first step in building more effective communications and relationships. DiSC assessments are excellent way to gain this behavioral insight.

Commit to Your Professional Development

Leadership development is a lifetime commitment. The 2015-2016 NonProfit Salaries & Staffing Report found, for the first time, that the number one interest expressed by candidates is in training and professional development opportunities. Smart nonprofits develop programs for current leadership as well as aspiring staff.

Add to Today’s Tasks: Commit to Leadership Development

Howard Fox is an Executive and Leadership Coach. His coaching method is knowledge-based and leverages  the tools that have roots in psychology, adult development, communication, and leadership.  Howard received his coach training from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, CA, and a certified DiSC, MBTI, and Leadership Challenge facilitator and coach. His favorite local coffee shop in Chicago is Overflow Coffee Bar.

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