All About Leadership

I was at an interesting event Saturday. The Annual Nonprofit Organization Board Training organized by Financial Stewardship Resources.  More than 500 people, almost all of them volunteers, almost all of them running nonprofits, gathering together on a cold and gray Saturday in Corvallis, OR, to learn about nonprofit taxation, leadership, better management, better planning, incorporating a new generation, and so on.

That’s an interesting group. Most of them over 40, dressed comfortably, eager to learn. Very few of them are paid to come. Most of them pay to come. Most were from Oregon, but a lot of other states, and a couple of other countries, were represented. I was with the organizers when they scrambled to find the translator they’d arranged for Polish/English.

I think we all know we’re in tough economic times, and that of course flows over to nonprofits. But that was a pretty good group. What’s important, I think, aside from any single message, is that they were there.

I felt my plan-as-you-go business plan talk went very well. They got it. It’s not just the plan, it’s planning: start with a review schedule, make sure you have focus, metrics, specifics of who-what-when, and build it over strategy. Form follows function.

John Blount, keynote speaker, was recently selected as one of the 17 members of the International Rotary board of directors. He’s also a dentist, lives in Sebastopol, CA, and does a pretty good talk on leadership. He sandwiched his talk around a short video about John Kennedy and NASA and the moon shot in the 1960s. I’ve searched the web for “It’s All About Leadership,” and I’ve come up with a lot of hits, but not that video. Too bad. That’s a great example.  John put leadership into three words: bold, competent, creative. I’m taking the liberty to change bold to courage, for alliteration’s sake, and add my own words as explanation.

    1. Courage: as in having the courage to stick your neck out for a decision, put your ideas on the line, take a stand. Courage to raise your voice in a crowd.
    2. Competence: Yes, I know, as we grow up in the world of adults, it’s surprising to discover how few people are truly competent. John shared a study about what people want in their dentist. Competence. That’s what people want in their leaders too. What a temptation to get into politics. But no, never mind.
    3. Creativity: Are leaders creative? Maybe. Creativity is about focus, perspective, looking at things from the right position, and often from a new position, one that others couldn’t think of. John mentioned the importance of quantity of ideas, more than quality. That’s an important concept.

Finally, one of several amusing quotes in his warmup was this quote from a baseball player named Larry Anderson. I’d never heard of him, or this quote, but:

If at first you don’t succeed, failure may be your thing.

And Steve Lange, a good editor, read my early version of this post (which changed a lot with this version) and tipped me off to, which has some posters based on similar sentiments.


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