Leadership is the fine art of taking complete responsibility for an enterprise while sharing that responsibility completely with others. It is the practice of directly influencing individuals and events towards significant and meaningful outcomes.
The last few decades have seen the rich re-envisioning of our understanding and practice of leadership and management. Jim Collins, Daniel Goleman, Peter Drucker, Marcus Buckingham, Stephen Covey, Robert Greenleaf, and Warren Bennis are just a few of those who have contributed to this important dialogue. All would agree that leadership requires more than skills, more than the ability to influence others and events. Leadership is about character as well as competence. It is about leading from the inside out. It is not easy.
In our diverse, networked, increasingly virtual world, leadership is distributed up, down, and across whole systems. No single leader can calibrate all that leadership energy correctly, and ensure that the whole system is aligned towards optimal and agreed upon outcomes. Especially now, leaders in all sectors exist and must function within the larger environments of their clients, customers, and constituencies.
Context customizes leadership work for each engagement, but some elements are essential: Clarify the role and strengthen the practice of the lead executive. Build an exceptional senior management team. Develop leadership competencies throughout the whole system.
In working with individual leaders, we build executive partnerships. The central goal of an executive partnership is positive change in the leader’s system, not simply change in the leader. We look with leaders at the system they are called upon to influence, not just at them. Plenty of positive change occurs within leaders if they focus unrelentingly on excellence in their company, organization, team, network, or community. In our experience, it is within the context of the system a leader is called upon to influence that the most powerful leadership transformations take place.
- Educating and advising senior leaders
- Building executive and management teams
- Strengthening boards and board/CEO relationships
- Disseminating leadership tools to teams and the whole system
- Designing fellowship and leadership programs
Founder, Portland Schools Foundation