Sharing our knowledge and experiences is critical to our leadership success. Fortunately, the sharing of knowledge is a core value in our profession, whether you are working as part of an organization, independently as a consultant, or in career transition.
After serving forty years as a director of two nature-based organizations, last year was my first Association of Nature Center Administrators (ANCA) Summit in the role of an exhibitor and sponsor rather than as a fellow administrator. I was no longer an active administrator but an entrepreneur, an independent consultant with a table display in the exhibit room. It felt different to me and after a few hours I was missing the frequent opportunities to share leadership experiences with my fellow colleagues, which often occurs in the hallways, benches, and sometimes bars throughout the Summit. We called these unplanned and frequent sharing experiences, the Beernut sessions. The exhibit area was quieter than expected, and my desire to interact and to continue learning from others by sharing our leadership stories made me realize how important the culture of sharing is to ANCA. ANCA is all about leadership growth and sharing our challenges and successes so it made sense to me to reintroduce the core principles of leadership and the how the concept of sharing is critical for leadership success.
The original research in our profession, Attributes of Leadership Among Environmental Education Center Administrators (McReynolds, 1993) was published in Directions as part of a five part series and the articles can be found in the members only section of the ANCA website. Since that time there have been adaptations to the model and some tweaking of some of the details but the core principals of leadership remain relevant and critical for leadership success.
In the spirit of our sharing for leadership success, I have described each of the core principles, including how important sharing is for each of the attributes to be successful in our professional growth and for those we are serving as leaders.
The four core Attributes of Leadership with the concept of sharing are:
Vision is Vital- Vision is a desired image of success and leaders can either create and easily see that image or know how to embrace a vision that has been collectively created. Vision is a point in the future that we seek and leaders can align resources to attain that vision. Sharing is critical for success because a vision unshared is a vision unattainable. A vision alone remains undone while a vision shared and embraced can become a reality. As a desired image of the future, the vision is grounded in reality rather than as a dream. The leader knows that as soon as a vision is created (by whatever methods) the very first step is share the vision and begin to build support to that vision. A leader with a vision that tries to attain that vision alone will not be successful.
Passion for the Purpose- Leaders have a strong sense of purpose to the mission and causes which drive them. Leaders will lean on the purpose as reminders of why they are doing what they do and to rebuild their commitment during their most trying challenges. It is the big picture view, the dedication to that purpose that allows the director to focus their energies. Sharing the purpose is critical for leadership success that will result in the preparation and empowerment of others to continue the work for the purpose. We call this mentoring and can happen in a variety of ways, from parents getting outside with their children or teachers in the classroom to directors working closely with their staff.
Passion for People- Leaders have a strong commitment and passion to the development of the people around them. A leader recognizes a vision and the purpose cannot be accomplished alone, however, that is not what is driving the leader. A leader is driven by a sense of responsibility to those around them. This can be addressed in many ways, depending on the personality of the leader, but sharing this passion for people is critical for leadership success. As a leader, sharing this passion for people can be accomplished at work, family, community and our profession. The result of sharing is a sense of joy and pride for the leader and personal and professional growth for the people around them.
Living is Learning- Leaders are constant learners with the ability to transfer and apply new learning into the workplace. Leaders establish and promote a cultural for learning. Sharing in the workplace is critical for leadership success. If new learning is not shared then the organization might benefit in the short term, but the people in the organization will not benefit in the long term. Leaders empower others to share their new learning which helps the individual and the organization place the new learning into practice. Knowledge is power, but unshared remains selfish power. Knowledge shared is empowerment. Leaders, as continual learners, seek and practice new learning that results in empowerment.
This year I will be back as an exhibitor, sponsor and speaker. I look forward to interacting with old friends and new colleagues. Consider the exhibit area as an important to our sharing culture as the sessions, mealtimes and Beernut discussions. The spirit of sharing in our profession is alive and well so share your stories and there might even be for a bit of chocolate for you.
Welcome to the LeadTeam blog. Here I will focus on conversations about leadership that can impact our organizations and us as individuals. My goal is to feature thoughtful, timely and practical tidbits based on research and experiences in the field of non-profit management and nature-based organizations.
I look forward to sharing in this new way and I welcome your participation. If my posts spark interest in you, please feel free to reach out and let’s connect to discuss! I’m also very interested in interviewing others in the profession and sharing their insights with our community.