Three leaders. All well recognized for their expertise. All brilliant and hold post graduate degrees. All operate non-profits. Two are CEO’s of similar organizations with a similar mission and comparable size. One is growing rapidly. The other is growing but slowly. One has that unique ability to gather followers. Volunteers and funding flow easily but he struggles with long term strategy. He is concerned that growth and well-meaning activity is masking real and long-term transformation. The other is a brilliant strategist but struggles communicating new concepts and making them simple. Hence, funding and the necessary volunteers don’t come so easily. My observation is that both struggle putting the necessary systems in place to be as successful as they would like. Especially a leadership system. To them, leadership is an individual person.
The third leader is the CEO of a different type of non-profit. He operates in a world of dynamic change, high competition, high regulation and everything he says and does is open to public review. He understands that leadership is not about one person exerting power and control. He is building a formal leadership system. It is a work of art. His senior leadership team is operating – like a team. They are mission driven and their leadership system is designed to execute on that mission. Yes, he hires leaders for their technical expertise and experience but he also hires them to the requirements of the leadership system.
For long term organizational excellence, transformation and innovation my bet is on leader number three. His personal leadership is not about attracting followers but about executing organizational mission. He understands that this will take all leaders pulling on their individual oars in concert with the others. My prediction is that soon, they will be recognized nationally for their excellence.