You can’t always get what you want

April 21, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

Leaders believe that their value lies in, well, leading. They believe that they have a responsibility for creating order, control, consistency and predictability, and that it is by emphasizing those elements that they achieve the best results.

In his book “Stewardship” Peter Block argues that leaders can attain more through partnership, distributing ownership and responsibility and balancing power rather than wielding it.

Partnership sounds good, Block wrote, but it has four requirements to be true partnership. They are:

  • Exchange of purpose. Partnership means that each person at every level is responsible for defining vision and values. Purpose is defined through dialogue. Let people at every level communicate about what they want to create.
  • Right to say no. Saying no is the fundamental way we have of differentiating ourselves. Partnership does not mean everyone always getting what they want. It means that losing an argument does not mean losing a voice.
  • Joint accountability. If we want to have the freedom that partnership offers, the price of that freedom is that we agree to take personal accountability for the success or failure of our unit and our community.
  • Absolute honesty. One of the benefits of redistributing power is that people feel less vulnerable and are more honest.
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