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Transcending Self-Interest in Leadership

May 20, 2013

higherpurposeGood nonprofit leaders are so much more than the titles assigned to them by virtue of their positions, yes?

So many books, articles and essays have been collected over hundreds of years about the qualities of good leaders. The arguments about whether leaders are born or made, leadership vs. management, etc. can be exhausting.

But the study of leadership really comes alive through the writings and experiences of Ambassador James Joseph, who served four U.S. Presidents, beginning with President Jimmy Carter who appointed him Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior in 1978, and including President Bill Clinton who appointed him the United States Ambassador to South Africa in 1996.

This week Ambassador Joseph will visit the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to speak with nonprofit executive directors and board chairs about the role of context in leadership, leadership ethics and accountability, and rethinking civil society for changing demographics.

I had the opportunity to study the Ambassador’s “Leadership as a Way of Being” as part of our Hull Fellows retreat and found his reflections thought-provoking and inspiring.

As you begin another week, contemplating the possibilities for yourself and your organization, think about these two excerpts:

“Leadership is often a call to a higher purpose and a higher reason. Yet, that call is most compelling when it is expressed through example.”

“…the most effective leaders are those who can induce followers to transcend their self-interest for the sake of a higher purpose. They are more likely to use an inspirational style that transforms rather than a transactional style that bargains or manipulates.”

As we weave through the unfortunate realities of egos and politics, self-motivation and unnecessary competition, consider the higher purpose and higher reason for our work in philanthropy.

How are we inspiring our peers, other community leaders, colleagues, direct reports and fellow board members with our own example and by making conscious choices to do the most good?

More to come this week on Ambassador Joseph and leadership.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

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