November 30, 2013
It is hard to imagine a family functioning without leadership skills. Families need a 100% commitment on the part of the parents. If one or both parents are working, the 100% commitment needs to occur through the shared leadership of both parents working together. Justice Sotamayor said that her 100% commitment to her career and her dream to be a judge meant that she would need to forego a personal family life for herself. It is difficult to create a balance between work and family when you make a total commitment to career. A 50% commitment to work means that you have only a 50% time available to your family. Thus, two working parents need to compromise so that a 100% commitment becomes possible. The parent who commits totally to the family allows the other parent to commit to work at a higher percentage
Shared leadership involves joint decision-making and the sharing of home responsibilities. Children increase the complexity of family life from reevaluating parental responsibilities, providing for alternate child care when the parents have outside responsibilities, determination of required and voluntary external responsibilities, and adjustments for different leadership styles of each parent. As the children get older, parents will need to develop mentoring skills and skills in delegation. Delegation of home responsibilities will increase as children grow. In addition, the parental leaders will have to learn how to deal with conflict and learn techniques for resolving conflicts and using negotiation strategies. Parents will also need to become good managers of the households resources. Budgeting is an important part of home management. Food preparation also requires management skills. In fact, working people can learn much from leaders at home which serves as excellent preparation for leadership in the work environment.
October 27, 2013
Many Americans are disenchanted with their elected officials. The recent national deliberations over the budget and the closing of the Federal government and also the conflict over the raising of the debt limit brought the American society to a standstill. The Founding Fathers must have been turning over in their graves. Yet, many did not understand what was going on. Many didn’t care. Some have argued that our society is selfish, prejudiced, pro-gun, anti-immigrant, anti-government, anti-poor, anti-Islamic, and maybe just anti-everything, We need to step back and look at what our democracy stands for. Politics must be more than character assassination. This posting will look at the characteristics of a politician that is also a leader.
A politician needs to be civil to other politicians. Collaboration should be the major orientation to the political process. After all, politics is about change and transformation, The goal of the political process is to improve our quality of life. Political leaders need to find was to address society’s challenges in a civil manner and within budgetary parameters. An elected official needs to not only the people who elected him or her but also the needs and perspectives of those that did not vote for him or her. The leader must not ignore, for example, the 30-50 percent of the population that did not vote for him or her. The political leader needs to study the community and understand all the needs of all the people in his or her jurisdiction. Respect for the President , the Governor , or Mayor is critical in a democratic society. In fact, the political leader needs to show respect for all his or her constituencies. People first and then money concern must be the guiding principle for the political process. Political process must not only be concerned with lobbyists and their financial contributions It sometimes seems that politicians are not concerned with the Bill of Rights unless it relates to their political agendas.
In summary, here are ten characteristics for a political leader:
3. Transformative for society’s good
4. Respect for others
5.Willing to compromise
6. Represent all the people not just the followers of their political party
7. Support the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
8. Set governmental priorities from a people-first approach, but within budgetary constraints
9. Work together and share the leadership
10.Make passed legislation implementable even if you don’t completely agree with it
September 29, 2013
Americans love sports and games. We spend a great amount of time watching sports. We will often reject some social events if it will mean that we would miss watching a specific sports event on television. We often thank our creator for TIVO or other device that will let s watch our favorite sports later in time. Being a spectator is a passive event. However, these events do teach us about sportsmanship. They also show us many examples of non-sportsman ship like activities like the violence which seems to be part of most hockey games. We have also incorporated these spectator events which allows us to have a party with friends while we watch a sports event. Superbowl day has almost become a holiday with all sorts of food and socializing. By now, you should be asking the question of what this all has to do with leadership. To answer this question, we need to distinguish between being a spectator and a participant.
Leaders are more than spectators. They are participants. They learn many things from playing games and participating in sports. They learn about working in teams. They learn about rules of the game and how to take the lead in games. They learn about collaboration and working together to accomplish certain ends. They learn to deal with conflict and its resolution. They see that each member of the team can affect outcome only with the cooperation of all the team members. Teams exist in many parts of the leader’s life from our family, our religion, our community, and our society as a whole. Our lives are governed by our beliefs and values. Leaders know that we must understand our culture and how to help our communities accept change. In previous columns, I have discussed how leaders develop their personal leadership skills. This blog posting begins to explore how we learn our team-building leadership skills.
August 29, 2013
Over the last four decades, I have read hundreds of books on leadership and management. I have held leadership roles and taught people about leadership and how to be a leader. Despite my life in leadership study, I still have many questions that are left unanswered or only partially answered. I would like to share some of my questions, I have my own partial answers but wonder how my readers would answer these questions. Here we go:
- How come there are so many conflicting definitions of leadership?
- Why doesn’t any theory seem to fit my leadership challenges?
- Where does biology impact my leadership?
- How come I can’t use my leadership skills in all situations and contexts?
- If I am such an excellent leader, why do I have so much trouble using my leadership skills at home?
- Why doesn’t my boss realize that I am a leader?
- When I retire, how come I cannot let go of my organization?
- Why do I have trouble letting my direct reports lead?
- For my health-based colleagues, how will my leadership and my organization be affected by the Affordable Care Act?
- How do I lead in a government agency?
How would you answer these questions/ Share your answers with your colleagues. What questions would you add to my list?
July 31, 2013
In previous postings and in my book PUBLIC HEALTH LEADERSHIP, I have discussed the five levels of leadership. As leaders develop their skills, each level builds on the skills developed at a previous level. In review, the first level involves the development of personal leadership skills that become the driver for all leadership activities regardless of level. Each of us needs to develop a leadership mindset and a series of experiences that define us as a leader. These personal skills will develop over a lifetime. The second level of leadership supports our work with teams and becomes the foundation for all our collaborative leadership activities. Team leadership is critical to all our public health and human service activities and our problem solving work. Our personal leadership skills help us to work well with other team members. The third level provides us with context. Teamwork often occurs within the context of organization and the leadership skills that will provide us with the wok and values necessary to develop our personal skills and team leadership skills. The fourth level puts us in the community where we need to work with others and to guide the work of our organizations so that they reflect the needs of our organizations. Thus, each of the four levels of leadership skill development develop a complex array of tools for carrying out our leadership work.
Now it is necessary to add a new fifth level to our model. This level includes the leadership skills necessary to work in a global environment. Public health issues are global in nature. Many have argued that leaders must think globally but act locally. Health and disease are global issues but public health practice activities are carried out at the local level. Epidemiologic surveillance needs to be a global as well as a local concern. Disease does not respect borders. The sixth level is the importance of communication and the necessity of spreading our good as well as our not so good acts to our colleagues so that we can all learn from our actions. Thus, our model of leadership levels must expand to better reflect the ways that we as leaders work.
June 30, 2013
We are entering a critical period for public health and its leaders. The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will impact Public Health in a negative way. Population health issues are mainly ignored in the Act. Clinical prevention is about clinical tests for individuals. Services for seniors through Medicare will also be impacted through the transfer of monies towards other sectors of the health care system. The differentiation between what primary care does and what public health does will be muddied even more than it has in the past. The reality is that Washington politicians do not understand public health and what it does. Public Health professionals and their organizations have for the most part failed in getting the public health message understood in Washington and in our various states. There also seems to be a lack of understanding for why workforce development and the importance of lifelong training is a critical component for the health of the public. Funding for Public Health Training Centers has been cut 80% for next year. This is insane if the public health mission of health promotion and disease prevention is to be maintained. Funding for emergency preparedness and response is also being significantly affected. Health is about primary prevention and support for it is lacking. Our elected officials do not understand the lack of support for this is critical if our quality of life is to be maintained.
I was recently asked to look at leadership and its present challenges to public health. Specifically our challenges are:
In addition to the ACA, an additional challenge related to terrorist events in the United States. Public health leaders have been involved in reacting to these terrorist events and the response to these events. Preparedness activities have become a major activity of state and local health departments since 2001. Leaders have been engaged in specific response activities, the creation of public health plans for all hazard events, conduct of disaster exercises, and the building of partnerships to address community events both natural and man-made. With the Boston marathon disaster, it is clear that these preparedness activities must continue in spite of major funding cuts.
Not much seems to get the support of Congress these days if additional funding is needed. Washington gridlock is an important challenge. There seems to be a major disregard of the concerns of the public. Politics reign and Congress people seem to be bought by major lobbyists to the detriment of concerns of their constituents. Public health leaders seem to advocate for issues without any interest by our elected officials. It is only a crisis event that Congress responds to, but their memories are short and nothing gets done. Our elected officials do not show real leadership.
Even climate change has become political with politicians arguing that climate change is not real. This is in spite of the fact that there are clear indications of severe weather changes occurring. Our future is at stake. Maybe we have to remember what happened to the dinosaurs.
Leaders need to be concerned about the issues of the World and how these issues impact our work and our lives. Just because Congress cuts funding related to public health does not mean that our public health issues go away. We leaders still have to fight for the health of the public. We need to demonstrate that our votes do make a difference.
May 30, 2013
In these posts, I have talked about a leadership mindset as a way to live your life. It will be a life of creativity and innovation. You will enjoy challenges and be able to see the big picture. Leaders in mind will not be afraid to take risks in order to make life more exciting and full of new experiences worth taking. People with this mindset will see a life dull of choices and opportunities. They are not afraid to build new relationships with others. The status quo is not appealing. Change is good and exhilarating. However, a leadership mindset does not automatically create a leader.
Leadership without followers is not leadership. Most of our leadership activities involve relationships, building and sustaining them, and using them to create change. However, there are many different ways to follow a leader. Followership is tied to the ways people can relate to their leaders. In his 2010 book LEADERSHIP: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION,, the British leadership expert Keith Grint discusses four major types of followership related to commitment and level of independence. The Emperor type relates to leadership in a hierarchy where followers relate to the person above them in the organization. The leader at the top guides the organization, the followers commit to the leader’s vision although the hierarchy shields the leader from those farther down in the organization. The Cat Herder type is a system in anarchy where there is no leader with power to control the cats. The White Elephant type is like a theocracy in which the leader is a spiritual person with God-like characteristics. The fourth type of followership is the Wheelwright in which a leader recognizes personal limits and in which different individuals take on the leadership role as appropriate. This latter type is the one that dominates many of our discussions of collaboration and who is in charge. This latter type can be unstable in that decisions need to be made and decision-making may be difficult in a shared leadership environment.
To be a leader, it is important to live leadership in all domains of life and to work with others to create a positive leadership environment.