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When is someone ready to lead? In 2010, Bill George of the Harvard Business School said this:

In retrospect, it seems obvious people weren’t responding to “top down” leadership. Why not?

  • The craftsman-apprentice model has been replaced by learning organizations, filled with workers with greater knowledge than their bosses.
  • Young people are unwilling to spend ten years waiting for their chance to lead; instead, they want opportunities now, or they move on.
  • People are looking for more than money, as few are willing to spend their lives in unfulfilling jobs, just for the compensation. Rather, they seek genuine satisfaction and meaning from their work.

To lead in this new century, we need authentic leaders who align people around mission and values, empower leaders at all levels, focus on serving customers, and collaborate throughout the organization, in order to achieve superior performance.

Although we certainly don’t relate to those we serve as customers — they are collaborators in mission — this article prompts questions of all the branches of the Vincentian Family.

Do we recognize that there may be — check that, there most certainly are — persons in our branches with greater knowledge of certain areas than our leaders?

Are we losing young people, who may come for a short while and leave, frustrated, because their gifts and talents are not recognized and employed?

Do we have the formational structures in place so that people can derive meaning from the service they give, or do we just engage people because we need more “laborers in the vineyard”?

George notes three key functions to which leaders must attend:

Aligning: The leader’s most difficult task is to align people around the organization’s mission and shared values. Do our leaders communicate well, or are the caught up in managing projects?

Empowering: Authentic leaders recognize they need leaders at all levels, especially on the front lines, where people must lead effectively without direct reports. Do you feel “free to lead,” or are you bogged down by requests for reports from “above.” Do you feel like a leader?

Collaborating: Leaders must foster this collaborative spirit by eliminating internal politics and parochialism and focusing on cooperation internally to be competitive externally. Is this your experience? Do you feel “fostered” or “ordered”?

The Vincentian Family has, in the last decade, embarked on a journey of promoting Collaboration for Systemic Change. It’s time to fine tune the instrument. If you’re out there, step up and say “IamVincent.”


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