15 May 2016

Leading for Change!

Leading for Change!

Leading for Change!


15th May 16

Telling Your Story

Being a results-driven leader also means that you have a story that needs to be heard. This story involves articulating the end results your community wants to achieve, the problems getting in the way, and an action plan for making things better. Your story must be authentic. Your objectives must be clear and come from a position of knowledge and integrity. Without authenticity, a results-driven leader has nothing to offer. Your transparency and authenticity are what engages partners to want to be part of the change.

In order to tell your story, you need to be clear on what results you are all working towards together. They must be concise, common-sense, and positive ideas like ‘children are ready to learn’, ‘families are economically stable’, and ‘people are healthy’. These results are at the forefront of your mind. They are part of your story because being a leader is not ultimately about you; it is about the collaboration you are leading and the community in which you are working. It is about knowing that talking about problems is not enough – that action through a robust results-driven process is essential to driving the desired change.

Working with Partners

Leadership for results is more than just saying that ‘enough is enough’. Being a results-driven leader means that you must be able to engage with all partners who have a role to play. You must be prepared to work together to tackle those ‘wicked’ complex population wellbeing issues that cannot be solved without collaboration. 

Results driven-leaders understand their own personality and temperament and that of their partners. They know how to use this understanding to get the most out of themselves and their teams. This requires knowledge of what motivates you as the leader, what motivates your team as a whole, and the individual motivations of each team member. Results-driven leaders are skilled at engaging the partners they need to tackle complex social issues. They know that engaging these partners requires them to have a clear understanding of the interests that these partners hold, a strong grasp on interest-based negotiation, and a commitment to shared accountability.

Leading With Bravery

Results-driven leaders are brave leaders: they take the time to diagnose difficult issues, they interrupt the status quo, and they innovate. They know how to separate the essential from the expendable and how to prioritize resources. Above all, they are not afraid of making a mistake. They understand that in this work, no one is perfect and no solution is perfect, but they don’t let that get in the way of taking action and making progress. Throughout their difficult journey, leaders ensure that their teams never loose sight of the end goal: collaboratively creating the capabilities that lead to achieving aspirational population results.

Part of leading with bravery includes learning to be adaptive to new circumstances. These could be changes in the political, social, or economic landscape in which you are working. It is about analysing the culture in which you operate and making decisions both sensitive to this culture and mindful of your community’s end goals. Being adaptive is necessary for leading your organisations and communities to thrive in challenging environments. It involves being able, both individually and collectively, to take on the difficult process of change and hurdle the obstacles that get in the way.

Moving Beyond Collective Impact

In ‘Bringing Soul to the Work of Collective Impact’, Dr. Michael McAfee, Director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute, strongly asserts that the 5 conditions of Collective Impact are not enough on their own to achieve long-term measurable impact in a community. In his article, Michael describes an additional set of 5 competencies that leaders need to master in order to effect meaningful change. These are:

  •  A point of view linked to action – Achieving results at the large-scale population level is no longer optional for results-based leaders. Leaders, teams, and partners must establish results that they are working towards and ensure shared accountability for taking action.
  • Skill at achieving equity – Leaders must be competent at using an evidence-based approach that is disciplined in moving from talk to action. This approach must also be effective at helping practitioners: identify root causes of issues, disaggregate population-level data, engage partners, and craft equity-focused strategies. Results Based Accountability is a smart approach for achieving these objectives.
  • Using yourself as an instrument of change – Leaders must hold themselves and others accountable for achieving population-level results.
  • Addressing race, class and culture – Leaders must be willing to talk about these issues and how they impact people experiencing poverty. They must be dedicated to collaboratively dismantling these systems.
  • Adaptive leadership – See “Leading with Bravery” above.

The Promise Neighborhood Institute has utilized the Results Based Accountability framework to operationalise these conditions. However, as Dr. McAfee suggests, frameworks for change aren’t enough in-and-of-themselves. To really drive action and achieve population results, we need competent, brave, adaptive, and selfless results-driven leaders. Leaders who are not afraid to disturb the status quo, make mistakes, and tackle complex obstacles along the way.