Janice Zarro, the executive director for the Women’s Resource Center of Sarasota County, recently attended a leadership seminar presented by Ambassador James A. Joseph at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. During the session titled “Leadership as a Way of Being: Lessons Learned,” Mr. Joseph shared the following helpful lessons:
1. It is possible for a leader to be humble without being docile, strong without being arrogant and still exert great influence.
2. The leader must be capable of learning from those he/she leads and must be capable of doing so without losing respect or influence.
3. Despite the continuing dominance of hard power - economic muscle and military power - in exerting influence and pressing one’s will on others, I have found that soft power - acts of generosity, diplomacy, moral messages and respect for other cultures - is likely to develop goodwill and establish relationships that are far more enduring.
4. Leaders who seek power to disperse it rather than simply concentrate it have a very special attraction and appeal.
5. In times of rapid change, zealots emerge claiming one truth and one theology. The challenge for the leader is not to use his/her values to proclaim absolutes but to help others cope with ambiguities.
6. The value-driven leader who needs consensus in order to act is likely to be most effective if he/she is willing to help shape that consensus rather than simply respond to it where it can be found.
7. Leadership is likely to be far more effective when it appeals to people’s better nature.
8. While we seek to change the practices of the adversary, it is important that we maintain respect for his/her humanity.
9. The leadership style that works best for me is leadership that seeks to evaluate and empower others. It seeks to engage the whole person in ways that satisfy higher and nobler needs.
10. An organization is what it rewards. It is not so much what is says in its mission statement or even its code of conduct, as it is what it rewards its people for being.
11. There are no hard and fixed absolutes about either managing or leading. To be rigid and play only by the rules on your organization chart or the theories of some guru is to miss the opportunity to meet people where they are. People-centered leadership recognizes the uniqueness of each individual and seeks to unleash the magic within.
12. Every leader does not have to be a superstar. Many apparently ordinary people are quiet leaders who make extraordinary contributions. They may not be seen as giants in the grand scheme of things, but the superstar could not accomplish anything without them.