Leadership on Point

It’s Time to Act: Ending Sexual Harassment in Nonprofit Organizations

February 28, 2018 Richard Levin

By Richard J. Levin and Sara E. Miller

“That’s simply the way he is. Just don’t find yourself alone in an elevator with him!”

We heard this from the CEO of a nonprofit organization who was given advice about a key donor during her first day on the job. She was receiving “the talk” so many nonprofit professionals have heard before, as if to explain away predatory behavior as the cost of doing business.

In listening to clients and confidants, we have learned that inappropriate sexual behaviors and repugnant power dynamics are playing out not only in Hollywood and government, but in the nonprofit space as well.

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How Many Hats Does a CIO Need to Wear?

October 21, 2016 Joe Wolke

Technology leaders earn their keep when they help their organizations use technology as a competitive advantage. Success is no longer measured just in availability, speed and uptime: one must now add resiliency, security, scalability, affordability and, most of all, the flexibility to meet business needs that have yet to be defined. These leaders must understand differentiators in their businesses; they need to know real capabilities in the IT marketplace as well as the best providers of those capabilities; and they need to know how to staff and manage high-performing teams who can assure consistent and reliable delivery of those services. They need to be:

  • Technology specialists who know and understand what is real and what is hype
  • Authorities in security, protecting the information that drives the company as well as meeting regulatory compliance
  • Team leaders able to attract, manage and retain a team of highly skilled technical professionals
  • Salespersons, working with peers within an organization to create and sell the business cases that prove the investment in technology is the best use of a company’s money
  • Service brokers with the ability to source both commodity services and the business differentiators from providers both internal and across the globe.

No single university discipline, certification or job prepares individuals for what they need to be the best IT leaders for their organizations. There is no single source that can teach IT leaders to comfortably wear all the necessary hats at the same time.

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Crash and Burn: Bad Leader, or Set Up to Fail?

September 26, 2011 Richard Levin

Leaders Set Up To Fail

I was recently asked to advise on a situation in which a senior executive, new to the company, was spiraling downward in his performance.  The executive had been pre-screened by a global search firm and was interviewed by an internal search committee representing numerous corporate functions.  His references were stellar, his executive presence superb. Six weeks into his new job, nearly all of his colleagues and direct reports were in agreement: the hire was a misfire. What went wrong?

The most common response is that the company and its search firm missed something in the executive’s profile, and the executive fell short of expectations.  Our tendency is to focus on what the leader did “wrong”; maybe he failed to engage his team, perhaps he didn’t have great communication skills, possibly he could not articulate his vision or spark people’s (or his own) imagination. In this scenario, the leader’s team is typically presented as competent and well-intentioned, ready to be motivated and inspired by the “right” leader.  The team sees itself as eager and hungry for exceptional leadership, and feels the new leader let them down.  The outcome is a situation in which the leader and the team co-generate an escalating spiral of underperformance, frustration, and anger.

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I Am Spartacus

April 14, 2011 Chip Bell - Guest Author

Spartacus: A Role Model For Leadership

“Spartacus” was the story of an actual slave who led a massive grassroots uprising against the Roman Empire.   The movie was a major hit with cast of silver screen giants like Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons, Lawrence Olivier, and Peter Ustinov.

After the severely outnumbered slaves were defeated in a bloody battle by the Roman Army plus several of their allies, the Emperor coveted the head of the person who started the slave revolt.  Surveying the field of defeated survivors, he announced that if anyone would reveal which slave was Spartacus, all (but Spartacus) would be freed.  If they did not, all would be crucified.  One by one each of the hundreds of survivors stood and proudly proclaimed, “I am Spartacus.”

The essence of service leadership is to create in others such clarity of purpose, boldness of spirit, and unanimity of action that customers derive confidence, trust and identification.  Leadership is not about what leaders do, it is about what an organization accomplishes when many unite and engage in the courageous work of providing inventive, memorable experiences for the customers they serve.  What steps can you take to create among all employees a oneness of mind about your customers?  What is your unit or organization’s shared vision of your customers’ experiences?  What can you do to get everyone to wear the customer’s hat every day and every transaction?

 

Written by  Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson, customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling book. Their newest book is Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it. They can be reached at www.wiredanddangerous.com.

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Could Leadership Save Healthcare?

October 19, 2010 Jessica Levin - Guest Author

I recently read the book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World, which describes the life of Paul Farmer, an infectious disease physician, and his organization, Partners in Health. Farmer’s mission was to help individuals living in vulnerable countries access quality health care and preventative services. Through Farmer’s magnificent story, it is evident that one man can change the lives of thousands, even millions, and thus Farmer is an example of a successful leader. But Farmer is just ONE leader. We all know Barack Obama’s powerful tagline: yes we can. Its implications are potent, yet we are still struggling to improve the social and economic disparities of health care.  Those inequalities affect millions.

How does this connect to a blog on leadership? Simple: the most effective way for America to fully commit itself to health care equality is through strong and effective leadership. Health leadership is one of the main components of a successful health campaign. If we are trying to improve the inequities that affect personal health, health campaigns must start by addressing individual health behaviors and teaching people different ways to achieve healthy lifestyles. Clearly, adequate funding is essential for any type of reform, however information and education are extremely useful tools in preventing disease. And this is where we need effective and powerful leadership. What does it take to be an effective health leader?

Written by Jessica Levin, Research Assistant in Health and Epidemiology, Abt Associates, Cambridge, MA

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