The words ‘Organizational Leadership’ can seem incongruous. The key elements of leadership are very personal and relational. How does that fit within a structured group environment? Basically, leadership is leadership, and Organizational Leadership is leadership that occurs within an organization. But it does present special challenges and opportunities, and in the context of certain leadership principles ‘Organizational Leadership’ does make sense.
Leaders lead people.
Leaders don’t lead programs or projects or processes. Those things are managed. The people involved in them are led.
Organizations are people.
And like people, organizations are defined not by what they do but by who they are. It is first and foremost about the being of the organization – the story, the beliefs, the abilities, the culture of shared values, the vision. This is then lived out and reflected in what the organization does. Leaders of the organization focus first on leading the organization and the individuals within it to know who they are and to become more.
Leadership isn’t found on an org chart.
There are operational concerns with organizations that need to be handled by managers. But the responsibility of leading people should not be placed solely on these same people. Whatever role a person has within an organization, manager or not, they will be more effective in that role the more they are capable, committed and free to lead.
Organizations exist ultimately for the benefit of the individual.
Organizations provide efficiency that allows individuals to accomplish more than they could on their own. But more importantly organizations provide an environment that allows individuals to become more than they would ever realize on their own.
Organizational success is marked by individual growth.
Using individuals for the sake of the work of the organization will not bring sustainable success. If individuals within the organization are not becoming more as a result of their being a part of the organization, the organization is not fulfilling its ultimate purpose. The responsibility to fulfill this organizational purpose falls on each individual, to respond as called upon to be a leader to others around them.
Take a moment to think about each organization that you are a part of, both occupational and volunteer, and ask yourself – Am I finding personal fulfillment and growth from being a part of this organization? Are those of us within the organization clear on who we are, and who we want to become, as an organization? Is this honestly reflected in what we do? How am I a leader within this organization, serving others that they may find personal fulfillment and growth?
“In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The patterns of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles, and positions.” Margaret Wheatly
“An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success.” Stephen R. Covey
“The quality of leadership, more than any other single factor, determines the success or failure of an organization.” Fred Fiedler & Martin Chemers
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