Archive for March, 2008

Indicators for Successful Leadership: Ability to Define and Measure Outcomes

March 31, 2008

The first quarter of 2008 is just about over, and one thing was constant over the last three months . . . change, and lots of it. Changes in our economy both here and abroad, the U.S. housing market, the list of candidates for U.S. President still in the race, the energy markets, the world rice market, and the list goes on. Several other notable changes include the number of local, regional, national and international leaders who are not in their respective leadership positions anymore. (A trend visible in both the public and private sectors.)

What changed in the lives of these leaders so quickly? What were the indicators that these leaders would, in effect, fail to succeed? From my perspective the answer is simple, but multifaceted.

In 2007, much of our work at the Cobalt Group involved understanding the indicators of the different types of community capital – economic, human, cultural and social capital – and how these various types of capital come together to make a difference in community. One key finding of our work was the central role leaders play in guiding the process to harness and blend the intrinsic value of community capital.

Being a successful leader requires being able to define and measure outcomes (not just report or reap the benefits of transactions, tasks or activities).


If leaders aren’t flexible why should anyone bend?

March 12, 2008

Over the past few days I have been reminded of the different ways leaders communicate their vision and sense of purpose. In these recent experiences I have observed one common theme: Often when leaders are trying to make change they become inflexible, dogmatic, and directing. This rigidity makes them incapable of responding to change, let alone capable of leading it.

So, why should anyone bend?

Women (and men) of the World unite!

March 10, 2008

I am delighted that the Cobalt Group is the sponsor of the new sidebar series “Women of the World” at the 32nd Annual Cleveland International Film Festival – running now through March 16th at Tower City Cinemas in downtown Cleveland.

The series began with the opening night film featuring Helen Hunt and a star-studded cast in her directorial debut in “Then She Found Me”. It continues with thirteen more spectacular films featuring strong images of women.

From Lebanon to Liberia, the “Women of the World” series is not to be missed!

I encourage everyone to see at least one film this week. See for more information.

Leadership is not a hobby.

March 5, 2008

I am reminded of the old saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”

The same holds true for leadership and making change.

Last night at a neighborhood meeting I encountered a young man who arrived late to the meeting, most likely because he had just gotten off work. He ran into the meeting and asked impatiently to be directed to a sign-up sheet to join a task force for his community’s planning process. He chose the Housing Task Force and then proceeded to tell me that he was the community’s Tenant Council President.

He signed his name, asked when the next meeting would be held, and hurried off to his next responsibility.

If you want to make change, ask a busy leader.

The time is ALWAYS right for change!

March 4, 2008

While enjoying dinner last night with colleagues from Pittsburgh, our conversation turned to the topic of public housing. We shared the history of public housing, attempts to remake it over the last two decades with innovative programs like HOPE IV, and discussed how it is not about public, affordable, subsidized housing – it is about safe, decent, quality housing for everyone . . . the elderly, empty nesters, young professionals, young families, blended families, and so on. It is not about the income of a family that should dictate their housing options, it is about their needs to have a yard, one-floor living, access to public transportation and quality education, proximity to grocery stores which sell great food for fair prices, and yes, cool and efficient designs.

With public housing policy and programs in shambles and the housing market bottoming out, the time is right to change our country’s housing policy. Leaders everywhere can play a role in this process!

Leader’s Voter Update

March 3, 2008

We traveled to the Board of Elections Saturday morning to cast our votes. We arrived around 9 a.m. and quickly observed the orderly line of voters overflowing onto the sidewalk. An hour later we left the building walking past more voters in line waiting to cast support for their candidate.
Our Presidential candidates are to be commended for inspiring people to vote, and vote early. Our Board of Elections leadership and staff are to be commended for their preparedness. Our voting public, most importantly, is to be commended for taking their responsibility to vote seriously.
Remember, all eyes will be on Ohio, specifically Cuyahoga County, on March 4. Remember to vote!