Transforming Institutions Through Leadership: Exemplars

by | Aug 25, 2016 | News

Institutions and organizations have a character all their own. Some call it a culture.


Among the many factors which can transform institutions (or keep them faithful to their core values) is the presence of what Jon Katzenbach, Carolin Oelschlegel, and James Thomas call “authentic informal leaders.”

Pride builders are master motivators of other people, and catalysts for improvement around them. Often found in the role of line manager, they understand the motivations of those with whom they work. They know how to foster a sense of excellence among others. They can be found at every level of a hierarchy; some of the most effective pride builders are close to the front line, where they can interact directly with customers as well as employees. Pride builders often have powerful insights about the culture and about what behaviors are likely to lead to improvement.

Exemplars are role models. They bring vital behaviors or skills to life, and others pay attention to them. They are well respected and are effective peer influencers in the middle and senior management cohorts.

Networkers are hubs of personal communication within the organization. They know many people, and communicate freely and openly with them. They serve as links among people who might not otherwise share information or ideas. If you want to see an idea travel virally through an enterprise, enlist your networkers.

Early adopters enthusiastically latch onto and experiment with new technologies, processes, and ways of working. Involve them in your performance pilots, or whenever you are trying to demonstrate impact quickly.

It’s the Exemplars that concern me today. At Niagara University, a commitment has been made to produce “exemplars” of the Vincentian charism, and then inject them into all kinds of careers and fields. Called the “Vincentian Poverty Studies minor,” it is a model of how to produce authentic leaders while deepening the common “organizational culture” of that institution. It’s worth reading about.

So, how are we forming “exemplars” in our Vincentian Family groups? Do we provide opportunities for people to investigate, to grow, to and to “become”? Are we committed to formation ata high quality level?