Effective Leadership Traits
Could the same leadership traits that lead to good strategic planning be effective in community-based coalition building?
Strategic planning is often considered a cerebral and reflective activity, where an organization and its leadership pause, take stock of the environment, and chart a course forward. In my consulting practice, I’ve noticed that leaders who accomplish the most through their strategic plans have similar traits to leaders of effective community coalitions. The most effective leaders:
- Launch their strategic plan more like a campaign than a retreat.
- Assemble a team to guide it from all parts of the organization with the credibility and expertise to generate “buzz” and then translate ideas into performance.
- Draw energy from the ideas and resources of staff, board members and people outside the organization.
- Create a sense of urgency and model a belief that the collective results of all who participate in the plan will matter to the people they serve.
- Motivate people around a vision, yet listen intently and are not afraid of questioning whether the organization is capable of achieving what it has set out to do, is in the right business, or positioned competitively.
- Establish clear goals and measures – simple, few and motivational – that those inside and outside the organization can understand and rally around.
- Are practical, ensuring the plan has a basis in reality and finances.
A colleague recently described the most effective leaders of coalitions to me as “gardeners” – tending to members, planting and nurturing ideas and ownership, and insuring that projects are thriving while keeping an eye on the end results. Leaders in strategic planning efforts are like gardeners planting seeds in a plot that is already quite full; their gift is to convince others that change and growth is the breakthrough needed to continue to meet the community’s evolving needs.
- Tina R. Trent, Senior Director, Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation, NeighborWorks®, Washington, DC
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