Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wisdom Wednesday: Farsighted leaders

Farsightedness is one of the six characteristics of acknowledged leaders that author Erika Andersen spotlights in her remarkable book, Leading So People Will Follow. For nonprofit boards, the need for future-oriented leaders is as high as the special challenges they routinely face.

It's easy to treat "the future" as an abstract dream to set aside until tomorrow when the harsh realities of today keep pounding on the board's door. Obviously, we can't afford to ignore the here and now - especially when doing so means there's no "tomorrow" to address.

But the future is the realm of our governing bodies. We define it. We advance it. We protect it with everything we do. Our board leaders must hold that as their highest responsibility. They must find a balance, that gives today's challenges their appropriate focus but not at the expense of the future they are charged with enacting.

Board leaders must focus the group's ultimate attention on envisioning and shaping the future. They must find compelling ways to communicate that future, that resonate with individual members' interests. They must find inviting ways to share that vision with those who have not yet joined the journey.

Board leader, how are you guiding the group's work to fulfill your collective responsibility for the future of your nonprofit? Board member, how are you holding your leadership accountable for future-oriented work? How are you, as a community leader, demonstrating farsightedness in service to your mission?

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