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The Leadership Challenge, Quiet Leaders, Engaging the Whole Person

May 23, 2013

Hats off to the nonprofit leaders who took the time to respond to a challenge from us–reflecting on Ambassador James Joseph’s leadership lessons from “Leadership As a Way of Being.”

We especially enjoyed the thoughtful response from John McCarthy, interim executive director of SCOPE and wanted to share some nuggets from his short essay with you.

“While Ambassador Joseph’s ‘Lessons Learned’ reflects his experience on a global level, his observations parallel the leadership philosophy and enduring practice of SCOPE here in Sarasota.  The idea of leadership as something that is shared – not controlled, is fundamental to the work of bridging differences in a way that respects all of the voices and perspectives of the community.

Whether the role is a US Ambassador mending relations between countries or citizen leaders mending fences in our own back yard, the philosophy that leadership is a shared commodity is fundamental to people working together to make conditions better for all.”

Here two of the Ambassador’s reflections that have deep meaning for us in our work with nonprofits and donors at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County:

  • Many ordinary people are quiet leaders who make extraordinary contributions.
    We see evidence of the work these quiet leaders do every day. They are the “unsung heroes” of the nonprofit world. Their names may not often be mentioned in the Community section of our local paper. We may not see them at the networking events. They often set the tone for excellence in their workplaces with patience, command of and expertise in their programs, and loving, compassionate hearts that inspire others.

    We have an opportunity to meet many donors who also follow this quiet leadership model. They give in ways that may go unrecognized by the masses, but each gift is a ripple that motivates others to do good work…or simply smile at the end of a long day and a difficult cause. You know these people too.

  • Leadership that seeks to elevate and empower others…engages the whole person in ways that satisfy higher and nobler needs.
    We often observe organizations and individuals leveraging philanthropy in this way–to empower others and reach them on a multitude of levels, levels that go beyond basic needs. How many nonprofit leaders in positions of power approach leadership in this way as well?

    A different sort of staff member and board member can emerge when a leader sincerely appreciates them and uses every opportunity to elevate and empower them. If you are fortunate enough to report to someone like this, you know it.  It makes all the difference.

We’re looking forward to seeing many of you in our precious two hours with Ambassador James Joseph tomorrow.

John McCarthy and company, we know you will enjoy lunch with the Ambassador after the workshop! Thank you for your thoughtful essay.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

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