When we talk about LCI excellence, we always refer to institutions that are “locally owned and led” and have strong leadership teams. Leadership is about trust and influence. An organization relies on its leaders to guide and inspire, and to point to a spot on the horizon and say “Let’s go there.”
A rampant myth says some people are natural born leaders, while others are not. This is simply untrue! While we all have different natural skills and tendencies, every single person has the ability to influence and lead others. Leadership is a skill that can be developed, honed, and improved over time. Continual development of leadership skills is necessary for businesses and organizations alike to flourish.
Often, an LCI is built around the vision and passion of a single charismatic leader. But as you know, visions endure with institutions, not individuals. Building up a complementary team of leaders to fulfil the organization’s vision is paramount to the success and sustained growth of an LCI.
Following the example of Jesus, Partners Worldwide strongly supports the principles of Servant Leadership. Robert Greenleaf defines as servant-leader as one who “focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.
While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid,’ servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible." We love this definition of “upside-down” leadership, and believe it’s the job of leaders to empower and embolden those whom they lead.
It’s necessary to draw a distinction between LCI governance and LCI leadership (which is why we have them as two separate boxes in the LCI Excellence Rubric). Governance has to do with oversight, regulations, and accountability; this typically involves a Board of Directors. When we describe leadership in the LCI Rubric, we mean LCI staff (or volunteers) who actively lead and propel the work forward from the inside. For more on governance, go here.
"Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It's about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire your teammates and customers."
- Robin Sharma
Just getting started?
To find out more about yourself, your strengths as a leader, and what you bring to teams you are a part of, check out the Strengthsfinder test.
Our friend Jim Lousma believes leadership is a transformational force for people, organizations, and communities. We highly recommend his book The Art of Virtue-Based Transformational Leadership. Learn more at his website: lead2transform.com
Another top-notch book on leadership and team dynamics is The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.
Check out The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. This is a highly accessible, easy to use leadership guide from one of the top global experts on leadership. Additionally, John Maxwell has a superb gallery of inspirational 2-minute videos on leadership available here.
Want to go deeper?
The Global Leadership Summit is an annual international gathering of experts talking about leadership, facilitated by Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Church.
One aspect of leadership involves setting inspirational goals and keeping the team on track toward those goals. To that end, we endorse a Quadruple Bottom Line approach. This link from Social Enterprise Associates gives a good overview of what the Quadruple Bottom Line approach is about.
On the topic of servant leadership, here’s a wonderful (but lengthy) article from organizational theorist Fons Trompenaars: Servant Leader Across Cultures.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and ask for more resources or connections to subject-matter-experts who can help you dive deeper in this area.