An Observation on Leadership

An Observation on Leadership by Jeannette Fitzwater

Do you visualize a typical leader as being clad in a suit and spending many hours in meetings? While I have to admit that I have shared some of these same impressions, I have had my eyes opened. As a participant of Leadership Maryland, I spent a weekend in Baltimore exploring some of their Health and Human Services issues.

Our class was introduced to Col. Charles Williams of MCVETS and Dennis Murphy of Our Daily Bread. Both gentlemen were founders of non-profit organizations/projects, several decades ago. The Colonel led the effort (and still does) to rehabilitate our veterans as they experience problems after they return home. Mr. Murphy has developed and runs a wonderful complex and numerous programs to help the homeless to return to being stable residents of the community. And believe me, neither one would typically fit our stereotype. Despite these differences, I was able to observe 10 concrete traits that we see in successful leaders.
1. Entrepreneurial Spirit –they took an idea and searched for creative ways to make it work.

2. Perseverance—their leadership has spanned decades. Often times they went on to Plan B, C, D, or more, without giving up or losing stamina.

3. Passion—oh my, they had this! And this passion for serving became infectious to their volunteers.

4. Problem Solving—the clients of their programs would be involved for a longer-term period, perhaps two years. They were committed to solving the root cause of the issues, rather than simply treating symptoms. As a result, they experience an unusual level of success, in which clients do in fact become independent.

5. Clear Vision—they saw what could be done, without focusing on the obstacles. They were able to paint this vision for others. They continued to stay committed to their initial vision.

6. Flexibility—while they remained focused on their goals, they realized that as others became involved, new approaches and ideas would surface. They leveraged these thoughts to enhance the initial vision.

7. Enabling others—they inspired others to be involved and gave them meaningful roles to play. Most impressively, a large percentage of their volunteers/employees were former clients who had success stories to share. They had “walked a mile in their shoes” and truly had credibility.

8. Accountability—they relished the opportunity to be held accountable for their actions and shared great pride in their success.

9. Humble Spirit—these leaders worked through others. They were happy to speak about their successes, but seldom used “I” in their conversations.

10. Collaboration—they had no interest in forming silos in the community. They reached out to other non-profits, churches, economic development groups, etc. so that the community benefited as a whole. The community shared in the vision and the work. Together they celebrated their successes.

I believe that they have given us a template to consider when we evaluate our own leadership roles or are developing the capabilities of a future leader. The traits seem so simple in nature; however they truly stand out among the crowd. I encourage you to look within your own company and community to identify these traits. Through effective leadership a simple vision may become a reality!

For additional information of these outstanding programs, you may wish to reference their websites:
www.mcvet.org
www.catholiccharities-md.org/emergency/our-daily-bread

Jeannette Rudy Fitzwater brings over 20 years of varied executive and management experience in Human Resources, Training, Strategic Planning, Marketing and Sales. Jeannette is a Registered Corporate Coach!

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