Tag Archives: mission

Executive Supervision, Part V: Coalition Building & Effective Communication

Financial and human resources will continue to be at a premium in the foreseeable future. Therefore the executive leader needs to use all available resources to meet the organization’s mission. Building coalitions with other organizations and utilizing effective communications are necessary competencies during these economically lean times.

The Federal SES (Senior Executive Services) guidelines define coalition building as the ability to influence and negotiate. Influence and negotiation requires a person who has the ability to persuade others and to build consensus; to establish cooperation from others to accomplish desired goals and to facilitate “win-win” situations (January, 1998). This definition embraces several of Covey’s principles, such as, “begin with the end in mind,” “think win-win” and “seek first to understand then be understood.” Simply put, the leader must envision what he or she wants out of a mutual agreement and that the desired outcome will result a win-win resolution. A successful outcome can only happen if the executives “seek first to understand.” This will require the executive leaders to genuinely listen to each other and to instinctually know that if genuinely listened to they will have the opportunity “to be understood.” If these competencies are genuinely practiced, more often than not, the negotiating executives will facilitate collaborations and form partnerships that align with each executive organization’s mission and bottom line.

Another competency necessary for building coalitions and moving an agenda forward is “political savvy.” This will require executive awareness of “politics” both in the executive’s organization and in the community at large. In other words, the executive must approach each problem situation with a keen understanding of the politics in his or her organization as well as the political reality of the community at large. Political savvy requires sensitivity to timing. No matter that something is the right thing to do, it must not be hurried; there is a right moment for implementation. It is my impression that President Obama is doing this with “the don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as it relates to gays serving in the military. Although the president intends to change the current policy; he has not yet acted. I believe the president will fulfill his promise, but he is waiting for the right time. Just like the president, all executives must be able “to identify the internal and external politics that impact the work of the organization….approach each problem situation with a clear perception of organizational and political reality…and recognize the impact of alternative courses of action” (Guide to SES Qualifications, p. 36, January, 1998).

Although rarely mentioned as a tool for effective coalition building, marketing and promoting of the organization’s services is invaluable. Many governmental and nonprofit organizations often see this as an unnecessary waste of limited resources because the people they serve will come anyway. However, I have learned that marketing and promoting are keys to building coalitions. When other organizational leaders are aware of your organization’s accomplishments they will want to be part of the success. In my experience, marketing and promoting your organizational services builds influence, collaboration and resources. Often, the resource gained comes in the form cash money because the community is excited to contribute to your organization’s mission, but more importantly to your organization’s success.

The second competency to discuss is effective communication. Without good communication skills, both oral and written an executive will have a difficult time articulating the needs of the organization and the wonderful things it does for its customer and the community. The executive must be aware of his or her communication strengths:

  • are you better and more persuasive as a public speaker, or
  • are you more persuasive with the pen?

Regardless of the communication format, the executive must be comfortable and use personal style to his or her advantage. Communication, especially written communication, must be convincing, well organized and expressed in a clear concise manner. Effective oral communication will require the speaker to facilitate dialogue, to be an effective listener, to come across as genuine and to clearly articulate and to clarify information.

To be effective and successful the executive must be an effective communicator and have the willingness and the competency to build coalitions. The executive cannot do this alone. It is imperative that the leaders’ lieutenants are also skilled communicators and competent at collaborating and coalition building. As I said at the beginning of this post; collaboration with others in this economy may be the only way an organization can survive and thus, the organization leadership team must do their part.

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It’s Never Too Late

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
John 6:27 NIV

Doing God’s work is not easy. In fact, many are not sure that the work they are doing is the work God has called them to do. If what you do builds people up and motivates others to do good, you can trust that you are doing God’s will — even when God is silent.

When God is silent, you must persevere. I say to you be attentive, be hopeful. Listen with your spiritual ear and observe with your spiritual eyes. Trust your intuition and know that in due season your work will be acknowledged and confirmed by God himself.

Many great leaders, both spiritual and secular, are often not called to act or realize their dreams until late in life. A few come to mind: Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Nelson Mandela, Madeline Albright, Grandma Moses. I am sure you can name a few more. In fact, consider the oaks in the accompanying photograph. How many years did it takes for them to become mighty oaks?

What nourishments have you been called to create? Do you believe it is of God; if so, what is holding you back?,” In her book The Path, Laurie Beth Jones talks about “pitfalls and potholes” that have kept people for realizing their dreams. What are your pitfalls and potholes: feelings of inadequacy, accusations of others, small mindedness, fear, impatience, apathy or just old fashion procrastination and distractions?

Search the great minds of others and learned how they overcame their “pitfalls and potholes” to live out their dreams and accomplish their life missions.

We would love to hear about your dreams; better yet, we would love to hear how you overcame the “pitfalls and potholes” in life to make your dream, your life mission or God’s will for your life become a reality.

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Principled Leadership

Last week I attended several workshops at the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association’s (USPRA) 34th Annual Training Conference held in Norfolk, Virginia. The workshop I am sharing with you today was entitled: “Principled Leadership in Mental Health Systems and Programs.” It is based on William A. Anthony and Kevin Ann Anthony’s book with the same title which can be purchased online at www.bu.edu/cpr/products/.

Our workshop facilitators reviewed 8 leadership principles as follows:

1. Leaders communicate/create a shared vision.

· The organizational leader needs to continually assess the agency’s mission and vision. The leader needs to share what is happening in the larger world and then put this in context to its own organization. The leader also needs to use every communication vehicle available to express the organization’s vision and mission to staff and those the organization serves.

2. Leaders centralize around a mission but decentralize operations.

· The mission of the organization should be visible for all to see. It should be on business cards, visible within the organization’s buildings, especially in the board room. The mission dictates how the organization should operate; therefore, a principled leader doesn’t micro-mange. It’s a waste of time and staff can’t develop the skills they need to run the organization. The leader uses the mission to empower others. It’s the leader’s job to spread the word around in the greater community about the mission of the organization and raising funds to sustain the organization.

3. Leaders live by key values.

· Leaders need to be the keepers of the values (i.e. recovery values and assures that the mental health recovery values are being practiced in the organization). Staff’s performance evaluations are based on the organization’s values.

4. Leaders empower their staff

· An empower organization is clear who has authority and who makes decisions. Best decisions are made where the services are delivered. Use values to make decisions; this reinforces the values. The leader becomes a consultant within this context.

5. Leaders assure that staff are trained to do their job well.

· Leaders ensure that that staff are trained in a human technology that can translate a vision into reality. Training is important and the leader needs to assure that the organization is a learning community. Training can come through daily supervision, during staff meetings, peer reviews and of course through various workshops internal and external to the organization.

6. Leaders relate constructively to employees.

· A principled leader will always focus on the positive and the strengths of the organization’s employees.

7. Leaders use information to make change

· Change is constant. What should we start doing? What should we stop doing; what should be continued. Leaders receive feedback from staff, consumers, advisory bodies and other stakeholders. Then the leader, as part of the team, will use the continuous quality improvement process: decide, collect, analyze, implement, monitor, and decide.

8. Leaders recognize and reward great “performers.”

· Principled leaders always find a way to recognize great performers; it’s best to recognize great performers publicly.

Slides from this workshop can be viewed by going to the USPRA’s website at www.uspra.org.

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