Skip to main content

Looking Beyond Skill Sets

John O’Neil writes in his post titled Virtues and Character Markings of Future Leaders:

Certain character traits and drives will distinguish those who we need for future leaders. Formal education and "fattened resumes" will be less important than finding and developing the well rounded person who thrives on building robust learning cultures with high performing creative teams.

This is equally true for board and staff leaders of cultural organizations as we continue to navigate funding deficits and audience shifts. Our searches for staff leaders is often long on skills sets; for board leaders, the search includes skills and networks. But what about “critical virtues and character markings”, as O’Neil suggests?

Here’s his list:

Well Balanced and Ethically - Centered

Familiar enough with your own strengths and weaknesses and able to address vulnerabilities. Understanding that “rules matter, but behavior around the rules is more important.”

Passionate Learners

Openness to the diversity of ideas – good, bad and ugly – indicates a certain forward-thinking person. “They will read widely, use social nets wisely. They will help fill the organization with learning-motivated people with diverse interests and backgrounds. The richness of learning contracts will be reflective of the organization's cultural richness and competitive advantages.”

Humility and Integrity

“Good leaders are humble. They know that success brings a dark bag of hubris, ego inflation, power games. To fight these ever-present threats future leaders must continually offer and accept fresh learning challenges that are sufficiently stiff to guarantee some failure. It is in proper failure that higher order learning can flourish.”

Coaching and Mentoring

“The best leaders are natural teachers and coaches… They enjoy helping others learn and grow. They are also equipped to play the larger role of mentor, helping with those aspects beyond skills that involve character formation and wisdom.”

Brave and Discriminating

“The very best of the future leaders will carve out fresh trails with new metrics of success, dynamic transparency, and error-embracing learning. They will enjoy the risks that lead to learning. They will be discriminating in their own learning journeys. Always striving to do the brave and right things under pressure. Always working to have a life in harmony.”

What other critical virtues and character markings might you add to the list?

You raise the bar when you decide to use some or all of these virtues/markings in your next search for board or staff leadership, but given the lackluster leadership so many organizations suffer, isn’t it worth the effort?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

4 Nonprofit Resolutions for 2021

Even though 2020 will technically be in our rear view mirror soon, its ramifications will be with us for years to come. Make no mistake, there's a lot of work to do. So, here are my four really tough, but really important, resolutions designed to lay some solid groundwork for doing your best work in 2021. Aren't you glad there are only four? If you're interested in my resolutions from previous years, take a look here  and here .

4 Strategies to Pivot and Lead Through Disruption

Organizational Resiliency in This Crucible Moment

I am currently working with two colleagues from the cultural and heritage fields to think and write about organizational resiliency in times of upheaval and ambiguity. We believe resiliency in this crucible moment requires, first and foremost, nonprofit organizations activate equity and inclusion by embracing it as central to all their internal and external work. It begins when organizations commit the time to examine their own historical roots and practices as a critical step to ensure they “live” their most meaningful missions, visions, and values. Resiliency requires many organizations also renegotiate what it means to be valuable to their communities. The traditional idea of “value” has changed and is changing, and recognizing the extent to what our communities really value is key to being wanted, needed, and, thus relevant. All organizations must retool their financial mindsets, taking a hard look at their current financial realities and realigning the costs of doing business with