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What is Your “Lens of Leadership?”

There are many ways to view effective leadership. For some, effectiveness rests in the hands of a single, charismatic leader. The nature vs. nurture debate continues in academic research. Many of these studies focus on an individual, a single organization or case, or a particular leadership style, without incorporating an industry niche or market segment. Marshall (2009) made a compelling case for cultural congruent leadership as a necessity for effective leadership and organizational sustainability. Defining effective leadership in the 21st Century continues to change as technology expands accessibility to education; increases the rate of learning; shortens cycle times; empowers globalization; and virtually eliminates down time (Martin, 2007). The five-day, 40 to 50 hour work week is morphing into a single work day with 24/7 operation implications, redefining boundaries, stretching system capacity and outstripping individual abilities (Martin 2007). Further, he identified globalization, complex challenges, talent acquisition and retention, and a world built on interruptions as four specific trends driving leadership change; concluding that “leaders of the future need greater collaboration skills, a more flexible style, adaptability, skills in organizational architecture and the willingness to find examples of positive disobedience.”

Several years ago while attending a Critical Concerns conference for Christian Colleges and Universities, I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Dan Martin. Until recently, he served as the president of Seattle Pacific University. Part of the leadership discussion centered on what Dr. Martin painted as his “lens of effective leadership.” First, an organization absolutely must be MISSION FOCUSED! There can be no Mission Mish-Mash… and, it is the leader’s responsibility to provide the clarity centered on mission. Second, your people must be PRODUCTIVE not PASSIVE. How can an enterprise move forward without productivity? Third, and perhaps most important, the leader must be PURSUING not PRESIDING. It can be tempting to rest in the momentum of an organization. Yet, without vision, people (and the organization) will perish. What’s next? It is the leader’s responsibility to set clear and compelling vision, driven by a laser focused mission delivered through productive people.

How is your organization doing in these three critical areas? What are you (is your leader) pursuing? How clear are the vision and mission? Are your people infused with the passion for the organizational purpose, aligned with your mission and productively engaged in its pursuits? If so, wonderful. If not, let’s talk. We will develop a lens of leadership that makes a sustainable difference.

Gordon Flinn is the CEO of Go Forth Consulting.


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