A good part of our leadership skills development work has been with a non-profit food bank organization. They perform a tremendous service in providing low-income families and three million seniors with nutritious food, both fresh and packaged.
In their expansion efforts, they wanted to be more visible and recruit more volunteers and sponsors from their speaking engagements.
To do that, they anticipated placing several leaders in specific regions that could state their mission, encourage and motivate others to enroll in their efforts, and identify what other resources were needed in a particular area for achievement.
The individuals they were looking for were ‘consummate’ leaders, not just enthusiastic leaders.
What is Consummate Leadership?
These are the men and women that have some history of accomplishments and are skilled at unifying human efforts for a common purpose. They often have heartfelt stories from social engagements, involvement in selfless causes, or even ‘scars’ from boardroom battles.
But wherever they gained their experience, they became a specialist in definitively stating the purpose or the ‘why’ we should do this; and then asking those that enroll what they need to achieve that purpose.
The consummate leader knows their position or rank does not have that achievement in an organization, but by the impact they can have on people.
Consequently, that impact can build and nurture commitment from other staff members, company partnerships, and outside affiliations where needed.
Skills of the Consummate Leader
Use any or all of these to develop your expertise in consummate leadership:
- Christopher Reeve said, “Don’t hold back your emotional connectedness to the vision, the project, or the venture.” People become energized by the vital force you present and what you will risk to realize your efforts in the final success.” Even from his wheelchair, Christopher Reeve relied on his emotional intensity to fuel campaigns for spinal cord injury research.
- Use simple language to state what the benefits will be in the final achievement of the mission or campaign. Each person hears the message differently, using language from their internal self, their generation, culture, gender, & experience to interpret the implied meaning.
- Release the team members from using conventional problem-solving tools or rules. Often innocent statements about the problem put folks into a creative space where no flawless solutions are presented, but a combination of thoughts could be the steps to achievement. Remember Einstein’s statement, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
- Delegate wisely. Delegating tasks or responsibilities to others makes them feel an integral part of the final achievement. Everyone has the ‘right’ to be needed.
- Listen intently for areas of misunderstanding and potential problems. Effective leaders listen for repeated phrases that may hint at underlying problems that the group is feeling or experiencing. They immediately address rumors or gossip with an effective conversation, stating what the real facts are about the issue and what they do know.
- Be certain you define any sacrifices that will have to be made for this mission to come about. Clearly state how much time you think it will take. These leaders are good motivators to keep the effort going when the horizon may not be in sight; and present the mission so that all understand that excellence in achievement is difficult but not impossible.
- Do not be afraid to show gratitude to everyone involved. Simple statements such as “great job” or “thanks for your work here”, are all appreciated and can make a difference in the future effort of that worker.
- Consummate leaders understand the power of their presence, staying visible as much as possible. Their workers will stay motivated when they see their efforts directly supported by the leader. Remember the effect Patrick Swayze had when he appeared on TV with the Stand Up to Cancer campaign? Exhilarating.
Questions to Ask
As you develop your consummate leadership skills, ask yourself:
- What exactly is the new mission, project, or campaign we’re in? Who are the recipients, and how will the benefits change the current condition or their lives? What do we, as individuals, risk by putting our hands into this venture?
- What cause or vision are you asking others to commit to? How articulate can you be so that others feel the same passion you have?
- In pursuit of this cause, how are you able to reframe what is happening today with what will be different when the cause is accomplished? What will be the benefits for the recipients of the actual cause? Will there be more medical supplies for hurricane victims, less community hunger, safer housing, or less bullying in schools?
- How can you overturn one of the biggest objections to success, the fear of disappointment? Remember, Dyson said he had learned 52 ways not to make a vacuum. The first proof of concept may not be the final solution.
- What is the commitment of each colleague to fulfill the mission and keep the effort going?
- What will be the guidelines for conflict resolution when one person is pushing a single idea?
- What experiential exercise can you have your colleagues engage in for curiosity and courage, igniting the idea of ‘what if,’ ‘why not,’ or ‘what can we create with what we have’?
- What other resources will you need for success, such as departmental advocates to spread the mission or individuals to recruit company employees for additional labor power?
- What measurements will you put in place to gauge progress? What will be the checks & balances on the group’s activities so that they can catch miscalculations in time to recover?
“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now. “
What is Consummate Leadership?
If you have ideas about consummate leadership that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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