At a broad level, the Leadership Team’s responsibilities are not complex. The team identifies, establishes, and maintains the array of leadership connections best serving the agency’s interests and those of its stakeholders. Embedded here is a critical concept. Each connection is two-way and has to be mutually beneficial. Part of what sustains the connection is the What’s in it for me? factor. The connection benefits the agency but also benefits the stakeholder. Of course, the agency’s interests are furthered. It is equally important each connection also furthers the interests of the stakeholder.
A good starting point for developing the Leadership Perspective is to think about what connections should be established for the specific agency. Some caution is important here. It is very easy to get this step so complicated no one actually takes it in a thoughtful and systematic way. My experience tells me, if this happens, the step is simply skipped. The result then is a more or less haphazard approach to leadership, with the agency never quite achieving the Leadership Perspective. With this caution in mind, consider how to identify the connections best serving the agency’s interests.
Start with connections within the local Helping Triangle and specifically with 0-A connections with potential clients. Before identifying people, two questions have to be asked and answered. What is the agency’s interest in establishing connections with these stakeholders? We have to know why we want to make the connections before investing the time and resources required to establish and maintain them. A somewhat subtle point is important here. Our focus is on outcomes and not on input. The value of the connections is in the future, not today. For example, the agency is interested in providing more responsive, more appropriate services as time goes on. The connections are expected to support this outcome. The agency’s interest is in getting better and better at getting better and better; and solid connections with potential clients help achieve this end.
With a clear sense of why the agency wants to establish the connections in mind, there is a second question to ask and answer. What is each stakeholder’s interest in establishing a connection with the agency? More specifically, what’s in it for a potential client? Focus is again on output, not input. How will the potential client be better off tomorrow as a result of investing time and energy in the connection today? â€“ Keep in mind this is a Leadership Connection and not the same as receiving or providing agency services and supports. It is important to refrain from pursuing the connection until we have seriously thought about the question and have an answer. For example, a payment or other reward might be appropriate in some situations, while not in others. Others might value helping people they know by contributing to increased availability of better services. Some may appreciate the opportunity to call attention to something they do not like about the agency or its services. Still others may be eager to share their ideas about what they think would really be helpful to people who are experiencing the types of issues and challenges for which the agency exists. Each person has his or her perspective and interests. This step requires learning what those perspectives and interests are and assuring the connection conforms with and supports those perspectives and interests. …