Find the Leader Within

This is the last post in the leadership series and I hope you’ve found it beneficial.   I hope that you were moved to recall key moments in your professional and personal life where you’ve stepped up and revealed yourself as a capable leader and also moments where you could have handled things a little better.   Some are born leaders,  but for most of us,   honing leadership skills is an ongoing process.   According to Katherine Tyler Scott,   Managing Principal of Ki ThoughtBridge leadership development specialists in Indianapolis, IN,   “All things being equal,   the best of the best leaders will have emotional intelligence,   self-awareness,   self-management,   social skills and motivation”.

They Are Change Agents

A Senior Program Officer at the Ford Foundation for 10 years,   Linetta Gilbert has doled out millions of dollars to worthy causes world-wide.   Primarily responsible for grantmaking in Gulf Coast states,   the 62-year-old New Orleans resident helped fund the reconstruction efforts after Hurricane Katrina and spent significant time listening to what grantees thought about change,   at times provoking them to higher ideals.

“Sometimes people are in positions of influence because they hold certain credentials or know the right person,   but they are not necessarily committed to the mission”,   Gilbert notes.  “I try to get inside their heads about their own leadership.   I expose them to opportunities to refine their skills,   recommending books,   conferences and training sessions.   I urge them to think about who they are,   what’s next and who in their organization is being groomed to keep the agenda going”.

As a grantmaker,   Gilbert understands that judgment is a quality of leadership that must be honed.   “You have to learn how to read reality truthfully”,   she says.  “It is not something people are born with.   You have to have opportunities to develop and ask yourself,  Is this real? Or is it only real from my perspective’?

In 2010,   Gilbert was invited to co-lead the newly formed Declaration Initiative at  The Ford Foundation,  which aims to eradicate deep  poverty in the United States within the next 15 years.   “I believe that leaders must have a higher power call upon,   some larger connection outside of work,”.   That source,   Gilbert says,   is her power.

They Begin With the End in Mind

Six months into her job as Executive Director at Safe Shores–The DC Children’s Advocacy Center,  a not-for-profit agency that works with abused children,  Michele Booth Cole was tasked with negotiating with the District of Columbia to acquire a new building for the agency.  “We wanted a space that would serve families and be more child-friendly”,  says the 46-year-old.  “The idea was to own the building”.

But when DC officials told her that owning a building was out of the question,  Cole had to reassess.    As she weighed her options,   she realized that her ultimate goal was to secure a larger space and decided to make a counter-offer.  Her organization would lease the new space from DC,  but Safe Shores would have to play a central role in its design.

Cole’s proposal was the turning point in the negotiations.  “Taking a flexible approach allowed the project to move forward and demonstrated a willingness to cooperate on our part”,   commented Cole.   “We had our eyes on the higher goal of serving children in a facility that was worthy of them”.   In 2011,   Safe Shores moved into a newly renovated 37,000 square foot building.

According to Katherine Tyler Scott,  Cole’s ability to focus on the agency’s mission was a key factor in using her power.   “A leader who is self-aware and knowledgeable of the organization’s core values can successfully guide key decisions and enable that organization to be prudent under pressure”.   Cole adds  “Power is about sharing leadership and cultivating others to get things done with a real sense of excellence”.

Thanks for reading,



5 thoughts on “Find the Leader Within

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