Sustainable Leadership is a set of core attributes that are a part of any leadership development, practice or position. Principles for sustained leadership include four core attributes and four supporting attributes. Last month I presented the four core attributes of leadership that represent the characteristics of a leader, regardless of the type of organization or the situations the leader may encounter. These four core attributes are not situational and do not change. A leader may change positions or may change organizations, even professions, but these attributes remain. To practice sustainable leadership the core attributes must be demonstrated and as discussed last month, shared.
The four core attributes of leadership are:
- Vision is Vital: The sustainable leader has, or can develop with others, a clear desired image of a successful future for the organization and can align resources to that direction.
- Passion for People: The sustainable leader demonstrates the value of people collaboratively aligned toward a vision and practices methods to empower those in and those that support the organization.
- Passion for Purpose: The sustainable leader embraces the purpose of the organization and has sense of high values toward the mission.
- Living is Learning: The sustainable leader seeks continued learning and transfers life experiences to practice.
The four supporting attributes for sustained leadership are:
- Content Skills: The sustainable leader needs to have a high level, if not mastery, of the content area that the organization serves. Many of our organizations have multiple content areas and the leader cannot have mastery in all but must have an affinity on how each of the areas should work together. A challenge for new directors is to realize that what they may have in content expertise is no longer what is needed to be a sustainable leader.
- Management Skills: Skills in business, personnel and budget, to name a few, a critical in any organization but the leader does not have to be an expert in any one area. The sustainable leader knows what role they have in management functions and aligns people in positions with the specific areas of expertise that are needed for the organization.
- Process Skills: Skills in team development, meeting and group process skills and strategic planning are all processes the sustainable leader must possess, at least, a working knowledge and abilities. Other staff positions or outside consultants with mastery levels of processes can be obtained for those needed services.
- Systems Perspective: The sustainable leader gets to know and connects to the culture of the organization and understands how that culture (which may need to change) is connected to the community and/or its parent organization. A systems perspective is the ability to see and the priority to practice connecting oneself to the cultures of the organization with the community it serves.
Sustainable leadership is constant but the skills we use can change. Let’s continue to explore the application of skill sets for leaders in mission-based organizations in future blogs.