Are we managing to lead?
Executive Director’s note from Issue 7, March 2014 on leadership for purpose.
When it was proposed that we focus an issue of the SVA Quarterly on ‘leadership’ I was sceptical. We are not a dedicated ‘leadership’ consultancy (although our siblings at Social Leadership Australia are). But then I started listening, and discovered to my surprise and concern that ‘leaders’ are absolutely everywhere. Whether you are a CEO, a mother, a team captain, a schoolgirl, a member of the shared services team or an MP, in some context you are being described as a ‘leader’. So I began to worry that the word has become devalued or at least neutered. If we are all leaders then perhaps none of us are?
So this issue endeavours to put a stake in the ground for leadership. Yes, we can all be leaders; but leadership isn’t just being the boss, any more than it is just delivering results, or simply participating. The inspiring and wise people who were kind enough to talk to us for our main article: ‘Taking the lead‘ were clear: leadership is about good intent, and we need it in the Australian for-purpose sector now as much as ever, and we need to look further afield to find it. And, as a number of the articles highlight, being in the for-purpose sector means that we need to be clear about what our purpose is, and get more ‘mission-driven’.
A gentle call to arms for leadership, perhaps.
As well as the fascinating insights of our interviewees (yes, I’m struggling not to call them ‘sector leaders’), Geoff Aigner from Social Leadership Australia has written about ‘The fantasy of leadership‘. This short article is a pithy assertion of what it means to lead – and the importance of purpose! Read and ponder!
We have two examples: in the homelessness sector in SA where multiple organisations are working towards a shared set of success measures, and from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation whose UK Branch Director talks about taking the lead in innovative funding.
If you have read your fill of leadership, you can find elsewhere practical lessons on a process by which funders can vet potential fundees through a structured due diligence process. We are also rerunning an article from an earlier issue. ‘The first 100 days‘ has been one of the most popular articles in the last 18 months, and we are keen to draw it to the attention of a wider readership.
In our current challenging environment, where the lines between sectors are blurring and where issues can only be addressed in concert, we need leadership. Many of you, our readers, are called ‘leaders’. I would challenge you: are you really leading Australia to a fairer, more equitable place?
(Former) Executive Director SVA Consulting