Monday, September 3, 2012

Focusing on Research

Thanks for taking the time to follow Tim and I on this leadership for leaders blog.

Over the past 2 1/2 years we have blogged on: Leadership in General, Leadership and Culture and Leadership Development.

At this time we are suspending our posts for the next year while we complete a pan-Canadian research project on Leadership in Canada.

We will continue to contribute to leadership conversations on LinkedIn. We invite you to follow us there -

Terresa Augustine
Tim McIntosh

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's in a word?

Servant Leadership

We interpret each others' words through our own communication filters. If I talk about business or say I'm concerned about the profit margin if we go after a new project, you might interpret that to mean I focus on money over people. Your interpretation of my words may be influenced by an experience you had working with a profit organization or perhaps being lead by a leader without apparent regard for people.

Personal experiences, storytelling and cultural myths inform our interpretation. Our interpretation informs our understanding . . . your interpretation belongs to you and it may or may not be accurate.

The example above illustrates how communications are filtered. Knowing EVERYONE filters, it is worth seeking to know and understand our communication filters before discarding or discounting the message or messenger. Commonly understood communication filters include: semantics, emotions, attitudes, backgrounds, culture, role expectations, gender biases, non verbal messages. These filters are present in both the sender and receiver of the communications.

When I say servant what does that word mean to you? What filters do you pass this word through . . . the history of the slave trade, Cinderella, your responsibility in the workplace, to a parent or a partner? The Encarta dictionary defines servant as 1. somebody who serves another i.e. an employee who serves somebody else, especially an employee hired to do household tasks or be a personal attendant to somebody, 2 civil servant same as public servant, i.e. an appointed or elected holder of a government position or office. Add a few cultural myths or stories to that word and you might wonder why anyone would want to be a servant.

What about leadership what does that word mean to you? Power, authority, boss, coach, guide? Encarta's definitions include: 1. ability to lead, guide, direct or influence people, office or position of leaders. If you've had positive leadership experiences the role may be seen as collaborative, transformational, even shared. Alternatively, if you've read, heard or experienced negative attributes of leadership you may think - power-hunger broker, abuser, authoritarian. Once again, if you layer on cultural myths or stories associated with leadership you may decide you want to be a leader or sadly that you do not want to be leader (do read on).

So what does the term servant leadership or servant leader conjure up for you? Quoting Dr. Keith, "servant-leaders want to help people do things. That's why servant-leaders are usually facilitators, coordinators, healers, partners, and coalition-builders." Servant-leaders operate within a service model, hierarchy doesn't matter. That's because anybody in a family, organization or community can be of service. Anybody can identify and meet the needs of others. Anybody can be a servant-leader. The service model is about giving."

Recognized leadership experts such as Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, Stephen Lewis, Jesus of Nazareth, Max De Pree, Peter Senge, Lao-Tzu, Jack Welch, and Margaret Wheatley are proponents of servant-leadership. Humbly, the authors of this blog align with these leaders. Like these experts we are attracted to servant leadership because it is practical, and meaningful, it emphasizes collaboration, trust, empathy, and the ethical use of power. Eloquently stated by Albert Einstein 'the high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule.'

Principles and practice of Servant Leadership include -

Robert K. Greenleaf, the founding father of servant leadership said the test of servant-centered leadership is assessed on performance and results. Leaders can self-assess their competency by asking -

1. do those served grow as persons,
2. do they, while being served become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servant leaders.

If the leader can answer YES with confidence and evidence to both questions they are on their way to raising up an organization that is identified by its practical and meaningful outcomes, it emphasize on collaboration, trust, empathy, and use of people-serving power.

What model of leadership do you practice?

What model of leadership would you like to follow or develop?

To learn more about servant leadership do a Google search, read material produced by or talk with servant leaders. Mentorship, coaching and training can also be contributory to your learning and application of servant leadership.  

Happy summer from Tim and myself. We will take our summer break and see you back online in the fall. Take some time to contemplate servant leadership, consider how you might want to develop and, or apply it in your life and work.

Leadership makes a difference. If not you who, if not now when?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Culture and Leadership

What's the Relationship?

Culture has significant influence in an organization, community or society; it impacts our behaviour, morale and productivity1. It’s the glue that holds a group together through shared assumptions, beliefs, and processes2 . It speaks to how things are done here’.

Culture is seen as the norm, that complex whole that includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired 3. It’s what we are taught, what we observe around us and what we come to expect and accept.

People immersed in a societal or corporate culture, consciously and unconsciously assume it. Someone coming into the organization or community may be confused, even puzzled by what is seen. Like an iceberg, much of culture lies below the surface. What we don’t know or understand about a culture can have serious repercussions on expectations, efforts and results. For example, a sea captain who responds to an iceberg by dealing with what is apparent and visible puts everyone on the ship at risk because of what lies below the surface.

Culture has significant impact on the results of an organization or group. Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM writes CULTURE ISN'T SIMPLY ONE ASPECT OF THE GAME - IT IS THE GAME . . . once you enter a successful culture, you feel it immediately 4.

Where much focus is given to identifying and developing the skills, characteristics and expectations of leadership, no woman is an island and leaders must fit or find their way to align with an organization's culture, particularly if they aspire to realize real and meaningful results. When leadership and culture are aligned there is synergy experienced as being in the right place at the right time, confident that expected results can be realized. When leadership and culture are misaligned, discontentment and lack of engagement interfere with possibility and results.

FLMPV, an international institute for leadership and culture to bolster prosperity, examined the linkages between leadership, culture, and organizational performance in creating best organizations 5. "Our" results quantify the impact leadership and organizational culture has on prosperity/success. Leaders cultivate culture, and the culture has a direct relationship on leadership style, skills, competency and results 6. The Best of the Best research involved 60 Canadian leaders and their organizations. What they all had in common was enlightened leadership and a constructive culture.

Behaviours of a constructive culture include:

- Expected to pursue challenging goals,
- Maintain personal integrity,
- Support and develop others,
- Communicate and cooperate with others.

These organizations take action and implement systems that align with their ideals. That differs from the typical organization which is more inclined to be reactive, defensive or aggressive in their pursuit of prosperity or success.

You’ll recognize a constructive culture by its vibe and characteristics: -

- Pursues challenging goals
- Personal integrity
- Commitment to others
- Promise-keeping to employees, customers and stakeholders
- Ability to communicate and cooperate with others
- Not driven or limited by fear, and
- Inspiring leaders

Inspired leaders transform environments. Transformational leadership is the style most accepting by Canadians 7. The nation’s best and brightest on leadership practice and development 8 contributed to Henein & Morissette’s ‘Made in Canada Leadership’ research.

One of the outcomes of their research was the compilation of a CANADIAN LEADERSHIP BRAND that includes the following attributes: patience, compassion, humanitarian, moderate, diplomatic, reasonable, ethical, honest, fair, trustworthy, decent, upright, knowledgeable, competent, effective, diligent, accountable, preserving, creative, hopeful, inventive, innovative, resilient, confident, welcoming, respectful, equitable, flexible, tolerant and collaborative.

Relationship between Culture and Leadership

Inspired culture drives prosperity,
inspired leaders drive inspired cultures

Inspired leadership and a culture that exhibits constructive characteristics have the potential, opportunity and probability to lead the future rather than harm or fear it.

Do you have inspired leaders driving constructive cultures in your environment? If you do congratulations and thank you for your leadership at a time and place when many are concerned by the absence of leadership.

If not – why not? John Izzo 10 suggests it’s time to step up: accept personal responsibility, focus on what can be changed, realize leaders have tremendous power to influence and know that responsibility ripples outwards.

We’ve heard this call or invitation for leadership from many . . .  IF NOT YOU – WHO, IF NOT NOW – WHEN 11?

To learn more about leadership and culture delve into the list of references attached to this article. Made in Canada Leadership, written by Henein and Morissette has an chapter on leadership development and service providers. Thanks for leading – it matters. 
[1]  Harris, P.R., Moran, R.T., & Moran, S.V. (2004). Managing cultural differences. Burlington, MA: 6th
[3]  Stuart, R.B. (2004). Twelve practical suggestions for achieving multicultural competence. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Vol. 35 (1), Feb 2004, 3-9. 
[4] Gerstner, L. (2002). Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?, New York, NY: HarperCollins Inc.
[5] “The Best of the Best” Report (2003), First Light PMV Inc., Toronto, ON., Contact: Peter Bromley,
[6] (First Light PMV Inc)
[7] Howell, J.P., Avolio B.J. (1993). Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, locus of control and support for innovation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 891-902. Howell, J.P., Frost, P.J. (1989). Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process, 43: 243-269
[8] Henein, A., Morissette F. (2007). Mississauga, ON: John Wiley & Sons. (input from 295 Canadian leaders in profit, not-for-profit and public environments)
[9] Summary findings of “The Best of the Best” Report.
[10] John Izzo, PhD. Improving the Quality of Life and Work.
[11] Phillip Vera Cruz (1904 – 1994)

Terresa Augustine has been writing about leadership and culture since 2009, she’s been developing and applying leadership since her teens. Terresa is a graduate of Trinity Western University, Masters Program in Leadership, Royal Roads University, Graduate studies in Career Development. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the People’s Law School in Vancouver -, is a Board Member of the Union Gospel Mission –, and Managing Director of her own corporation TaLedi Enterprise Development Inc.,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Stepping Up

Stepping Up - a leadership attribute?
A few months back I heard John Izzo speak about his new book ‘Stepping Up’ .
The words stepping up got my attention as I stewed in my own funk wondering why, despite living in a society full of information, knowledge and good intention, we the people were witnessing an increase in socio-economic challenges. Child poverty, youth-at-risk, access to affordable housing, return on educational investment, and a stressed and stretched work/life balance, are a few of the frequently mentioned concerns.
Is stepping up a missing ingredient in the formula for socio-economic well-being? The author says, 'stepping up changes everything.  Being responsible helps teams, leaders and professionals act like owners and less like victims. The overarching theme of the book is 'change begins in this room, it begins with me and it begins now'.
So what does it mean to step up?  Izzo's key themes are: -
·    accept personal responsibility
·    focus on what can be changed
·    realize we (you/I) have tremendous power to influence those around us
·    responsibility will ripple
·    you can't not lead - we (you/I) have influence over others whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
Are leaders (we/you/I) stepping up? Are leaders acting on the principles and practice of leadership?
For the past two years Tim and I have been posting information on leadership. We've shared with readers, evidence that Canadians favour participatory or shared leadership and our accepting of transformational leadership. We have focused on global leadership attributes and Tim recently published his book Leadership Peruvian Style.  

The leadership characteristics we talk about appear contributory and hopeful, yet almost 70% of Americans believe we are suffering from a crisis of leadership.  Cohn & Moran (2011) suggest rather than asking, why are leaders failing, we need to ask, "Why aren't we choosing better leaders?"

Why aren't we choosing better leaders?  The stories from the Costa Concordia did it for me writes Stephen K. Henn, President, SmartPros Legal & Ethics Division - "The Costa Concordia is the Italian luxury cruise ship that shipwrecked off of the island of Giglio. Captain Francesco Schettino, who stands accused of manslaughter, reportedly abandoned ship. As we look around the world today, the good captain's actions are seemingly becoming more commonplace (2011)".  
There is plenty of evidence that the captains and leaders across sectors, and around the world are not what they profess to be or what they are expected and compensated to be. A five year analysis of honesty and ethical standards in professions supports Henn's statement and local, national and global observations.
Henn follows up his statement by saying 'We are facing a leadership crisis in this country and throughout the world. The foundation of this crisis, apparent to even the most casual observer, is that the leaders of today seem small compared to the problems that we face. To date, we have not successfully brought forth a generation of leaders ready and willing to tackle these severe challenges. Something is lacking in the moral fabric of our current leadership, and, as a consequence, our country and the world are suffering'.
In 2009 and 2010, Tim and I conducted a literature review of leadership in Canada. Our objective was to identify what leaders and pundits of leadership in Canada had to say on the subject before delving into a critical analysis. Our research spanned multiple sectors and revealed four factors negatively impacting leaders and leadership in Canada:
1. Absence of a commonly accepted definition of leadership,

2. Change and complexity of leadership in the 21st century,

3. Limited understanding of the traits and attitude of leadership,

4. Deficit and development of leadership.

Stayed tuned - there is more to be said on this topic.

We welcome your comments and stories.

Stephen K. Henn, President, SmartPros Legal & Ethics Division. Leadership in Crisis, Part 1

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Giving Up

I am preparing a course on transformational leadership (TL) so the topic is on my mind as I rethink the implications of TL for everyday life. The question foremost on my mind is just how many of us are transformational leaders. In my leadership pilgrimage just what could I have done to be more transformational?

Here’s a quick review of TL. Bass (1985) stated that TL is made up of behaviors that are often referred to as the four I’s:

1. Idealized influence
2. Individualized consideration
3. Inspirational motivation
4. Intellectual stimulation

He contrasted TL behavior with that of transactional leadership which he stated has three behaviors:

1. Contingent reward
2. Active management by exception
3. Passive management by exception

Bass and Riggio (2006) stated that the theory is still intact. In preparing for the class I was thinking why I have not heard so much about TL in recent years. The lack of attention in recent years is especially interesting when one remembers that Bass (1996, 1997) said that TL is considered effective in any situation. Terresa and I have written extensively on international leadership with a focus on Canada and so the reference to cross cultural effectiveness caught my attention. Perhaps the simple answer to our research on effective leadership in Canada or any other place is to form transformational leaders.

Would that it were so easy. How many of us apply the four I’s in all of leadership situations? The more difficult question is, “How many of us know how to help form four I type of leaders?” I am guessing that very few help to form such leaders in their lifetime. But I for one refuse to give up trying. I believe that transformation on personal and organizational levels is so important that I am willing to continue to fight the good fight.

Later in the month I am speaking to a group of 28 missionaries. I have been evaluating the years of international service and I made a list of all those who with whom I’ve helped to form in leadership over the years. There are many sad stories to tell including some downright disasters. The good news is that there are a few transformational leaders among the list. Yes! Some are outside my home culture. There are many on the list where the final story has not been told. I include myself on that list.

Join me in seeking the ideal, the formation of transformational leaders who are in turn able to influence others. It is a worthy life purpose.

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and performance beyond expectations. New York: Free Press.
Bass, B.M. (1996). A new paradigm of leadership: An inquiry into transformational leadership. Alexandria, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.
Bass, B.M. (1997). Does the transactional-transformational paradigm transcend organizational and national boundaries? American Psychologist, 52, 130-139.
Bass, B.M. & Riggio, R.E. (2006). Transformational Leadership (2nd Ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's Christmas Time (click the link to hear the song).

As I walked amongst the holiday shoppers and city workers in the center of a Canadian city, a distress cry arose.

It took me a moment to locate where the wounded call came from and as people moved aside, the man appeared. He was bedraggled and his sorrowful cries expressed anguish and pain. Food he said, FOOD read his sign. His hand was extended and in it was a dime - 10 cents.
I approached this distraught man who was crouched against the shiny black slate of a bank tower to ask, "What kind of food do you want?". "HUMAN FOOD, I want human food", he said as he rocked himself back and forth. I wondered if the rocking was to stay warm or maybe too calm the troubles inside of him. I asked if he needed help, food was his response.
I went to the street vendor and ordered a hotdog and iced tea. The hotdog was grilled to perfection and placed in a toasted bun.   Onions the vendor asked, I declined. The vendor had skillfully avoided touching the food, concerned he might violate a city bylaw or health regulation. He dried the water off the soda can, wrapped it in a napkin and wished me a Merry Christmas. As a courtesy I replied the same.
I returned to the troubled man who was in the same corner, now holding two dimes in his outstretched palm. I offered the hotdog and soda to him. He jumped from his crouched position like an animal released by its capture, and in turn I also jumped. "I'm not crazy", he cried out - "I'm not crazy - people just walk by me and they say God bless me, God bless me I cry, God bless you who walk by or drop a coin - I'm not crazy please don't be afraid". I admitted to him that I was afraid but I knew he was also scared.
I offered the hotdog and soda a second time. He took the soda, removed the napkin, put the soda into his bag and the napkin in his pocket. He picked up his bag continuing to express his anguish about people walking by. He accepted the hot dog with the words God Bless you.
So this is Christmas and what does it mean - faith, hope, love and joy. Do they know it's christmas time (listen to the song) - do the hungry beggars or the lost souls around us do they know and feel the season of faith, love, joy and hope when we walk by, pretend we don't see what is, or toss a coin?

Pan handling has become a way to earn a living for some and as the number of persons asking for a handout increases we can become desensitized to the plight of the hungry and hurting. Should we turn off our human capacity to love, to share joy and be hopeful because too many are asking or because we are uncomfortable or find it disconcerting? Is it okay to be more concerned with the preparation of a hot dog for a customer rather than a frightened neighbour on the corner?

In the shadow of busy lives and attention to personal needs the essence of the season can be lost or given only to those we know and care about.  Say a prayer for those you know and those you don't - share the gift of love - its a gift that keeps on giving.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Governance as Leadership

The significance of the not-for-profit sector (in Canada and world wide), means directors, board members and executive officers need to rethink conventional practice if they are to effectively govern.  That being said, "Effective governance by the board of a nonprofit organization is a rare and unnatural act. Only the most uncommon of nonprofit boards functions as it should by harnessing the collective efforts of accomplished individuals to advance the institution’s mission and long-term welfare" (Chait, Holland, Taylor, 1996).

Not-for-profit organizations operate as foundations, societies, charities, co-operatives and volunteer groups. They rise up from grassroots initiatives or form in response to service, social or economic gaps. 
As a board member, executive officer and advocate for good governance, I support Chait, Ryan & Taylor's (2005) research that it takes great self-awareness for a Board to realize the variety of choices possible for their leadership and decision-making process. However, it is often an internal crisis, forced change or a transformative leader that inspires a board to self-assess and then move from past practice to present need.
Waiting for a crisis or change agent should not be a common or accepted leadership practice of this important sector that employs 2 million people and represents $79.1 billion or 7.8% of Canada's GDP (larger than automotive or manufacturing). A sector or organization driven by purpose, in a climate of increasing demand and limited resources, needs to employ sound governance principles and practice.
Experience and theory affirms that Boards and board members leading with sound governance practice and principles are -
  • more engaged,
  • more able to understand and respond to the entities purpose and responsibilities,
  • more able to make critical, forward thinking decisions that support them and the future of the not-for-profit.
A more engaged, informed and enabled board is better for the people being served, donors, funders, board members, chief executive officers and the employees.
Chait, et al, propose governance as leadership is evidenced and in turn can be developed by how a board addresses their primary responsibilities: fiduciary, strategic and generative leadership. The following framework can be used to guide a board through inquiry, information analysis and informed decision-making with respect to its key functions -
With an understanding of governance as leadership, aspiring and established leaders can ask themselves, their boards and, or board colleagues - 
How effective is our board leadership?
How are we as a board (board member) developing our knowledge, skill and competency?
Chait, Richard, P. Holland, Thomas, Taylor, Barbara (1996). Improving the Performance of Governance Boards. Oryx Press
Chait, Richard P., Ph.D., Ryan, William P., Ph.D., Taylor, Barbara E. 2005. Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards. Board Source. Accepted Practices for Sustainability in Non-Profit Management, CentrePoint Non-Profit Management:2009 www.thecentrepoint.caIndustry Canada. 2002. Primer for Directors for Not-for-Profit Corporations: Rights, Duties & Practices.