Archive for the ‘Indicators’ Category

Effective civil discourse requires leaders to listen, not just promote.

December 14, 2009

A few days ago I ran into a local leader who directs an important public sector initiative. Upon mentioning that I had tried to contact him to discuss a potential investment in the community (related to his area of responsibility) he abruptly stopped the conversation because he did not believe it was a good idea.

After reflecting on this interaction over the last few days, I have concluded that if a leader chooses to listen or engage in dialogue only when they happen to like the topic, they aren’t leaders, they’re promoters.


Time is a finite resource.

October 7, 2009

Time is a finite resource. Time is perhaps a newly defined, and the most important, form of capital we possess because we control it.

Also, how we spend our time on a daily (and nightly) basis is one way of measuring what we value.

Researching and writing a dissertation, raising a family, reading great works of literature, visiting the ill and frail, campaigning for elected office, helping a stranger with directions, thinking creatively and sharing the results . . . even taking a well-deserved nap . . . all require time.

Some things we do take a lot of time. Instead of saying I wish had more time, why not say, how will I be more intentional with my time.

Time matters.

Civil discourse . . . a definition

April 2, 2009

Last night, Oberlin College hosted NPR journalist Diane Rehm. As her son interviewed her in front of a standing room only crowd at Finney Chapel, Diane reflected and spoke honestly about her ethnic roots, her childhood, her coming of age, and the life changing moments that have made her who she is today.

She was never shy and offered her perspective on many contemporary issues including civil discourse. I paraphrase her definition which is powerful and meaningful:

“Civil discourse is our ability to have conversation about topics about which we disagree, and our ability to listen to each others’ perspectives.”

She commented further that, “Civil dialogue and civil discourse begin at home.”

Ingredients for an effective leader’s culture: Values, choice and action

September 19, 2008

I have been reading a great book entitled, “Understanding Culture: An Introduction to Anthropological Theory” by Philip Carl Saltzman. In Chapter 3, “Agency in Human Action: Social Process and Transactions”, he summarizes his thoughts with a very powerful concluding sentence.

“Normative rules and values are transformed or replaced as patterns of choices and transactions shift. In processual theory and analysis, societal institutions and cultural values do not determine human action; rather action generates social institutions and cultural values.”

This statement summarizes and explains why so many of our leaders fail to see themselves as agents of change. I often say when teaching, “Don’t ask how to do something, ask why it hasn’t been done.” Saltzman’s perspective gives us the answer: human action.

Indicators for Successful Leadership: Valuing Age Diversity

July 1, 2008

Lately I have found myself in conversations with a wide variety of individuals and the topic of ageism has come up in conversation. Regardless of the context of the conversation (e.g., hiring in the workplace, setting government policies, purchasing health insurance, building community in urban neighborhoods, etc., the opportunity to confront the negative effects of ageism exists.

Successful leaders confront attitudes which promote age discrimination. They choose to lead by example and demonstrate that valuing all people of all ages is important to creating a culture that celebrates the human life cycle.

The practice of leadership

April 25, 2008

Agile leaders know intuitively that their ability to be agile comes with its challenges. Just because a leader can bend or flex in the environment in which they find themselves doesn’t always mean smooth sailing. In fact, agile leaders know they will experience push back, resistance, and even passive-aggressive behavior when they are trying to create a culture that supports leadership and leadership development.

Creating a “culture of leadership” requires a framework for practicing good leadership. The practice of good leadership includes an understanding of how to identify issues, take advantage of opportunities and measure outcomes.

Mentoring leaders matters: In honor of Arthur Naparstek, Ph.D.

April 24, 2008

One of the greatest things a leader can do is mentor other leaders.

Today, I am reflecting on the greatness of a man who mentored me, Arthur Naparstek, and passed away prematurely four years ago today. Art was an agile leader. Throughout his life he adapted his leadership style to the person, situation, organization or community with whom he was working. While I know the impact he had on my personal and professional development, I know he influenced many other leaders in the United States and Israel.

My question for leaders reading this entry today. . . who are you mentoring?

Circa 1999 – from left to right, Generosa Lopez-Molina, Charles Thigpen, Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson, Arthur Naparstek, and Ken Lurie pose proudly at the site of the first units to be completed in Cleveland’s Homeownership Zone in the Central neighborhood.

Leadership: actions speak louder than words

April 23, 2008

Understanding culture is not always easy or obvious. However, the manner in which leaders act is a fairly reliable indicator of culture.

For instance, communities with an “ecology* of leadership” that is sustainable, vibrant and balanced tend to know and understand that the real power of leadership lies in a very interconnected network of leaders who look like the community they lead and know that their effectiveness comes from connecting to other leaders who share their vision, passion and commitment to making change.

*Ecology is defined as a dynamic system of interdependent relationships where there is no one point of power or control [in the ecosystem] and leaders understand that their work impacts multiple levels of community.

Indicators for Successful Leadership: Understanding the Past

April 11, 2008

History plays an important role in helping leaders understand what and why something happened . . . or didn’t. Leaders face the daily challenge of balancing time to reflect on lessons learned from the past while keeping up with the constant change around them, as well as making decisions in a timely manner.

Leaders who take the time to uncover the history related to what they are doing now get new perspectives. They also learn to respect those who have come before them, their failures and successes.

Indicators for Successful Leadership: Comfortable with Diversity

April 2, 2008

In the world of business, diversity is defined in many (and often inconsistent) ways: prime vs. minority, affirmative action, people of color, quotas, inclusion, disadvantaged business enterprises, just to name a few. While language matters (and I might add that we need to drastically update our diversity lexicon), what is most important for a leader is to be comfortable with diversity in general . . . diverse thoughts, cultures, races, religions, ages, educational levels, household compositions, work environments, customer bases, political affiliations, just to name a few.

Diversity programs are a thing of the past because diversity comes in all shapes and sizes, everyday and everywhere. Diversity is really about integrating perspectives of the “majority”of people with whom a leader comes into contact. And, majority is defined as “everyone”.