Back to the Centerpoint for Leaders Web Site

SEPTEMBER 2004 

Welcome to the third issue of Leader Point ? Centerpoint for Leaders and The Points of Light Foundation's newest e-publication to give you relevant and concise information on leadership and organizational development.


Thoughts From Sandra

By Sandra Trice Gray

Solving Leadership Challenges with Questions ?
The Right Questions:


"Analysis-Paralysis" and other management/leadership dilemmas may be solved by utilizing a new paradigm ? a new design, if you will, that includes asking the right questions.

We've heard this idea for quite a while, but here is an "outside the box" strategy, presented by Gerald Nadler and William J. Chandon in their new book called Smart Questions. Rejecting the reductionist (or Cartesian), holistic and the unstructured method of problem solving, they list three "foundation" questions in their Smart Questions Approach: 1. How can we treat every problem initially as unique? 2. What purposeful information do we need to creating living solutions? and 3. How can a systems view ensure the solution we are creating will work?

After those questions are answered, the four phases also demand answers to questions: 1. (people involvement) Who are the possible stakeholders and resource people to involve? 2. (purposes) What are our many possible purposes to achieve and which one should be our focus? 3. (future solution) What is the ideal solution that will allow us to achieve our focus purpose not just for now, but for the future? and 4. (living solution) What ideas can we install today that stay as close as possible to the future solution?

(The book Smart Questions by Nadler and Chandon may be purchased from the Centerpoint for Leaders Bookstore.

by John A. Buck

The difference between autocracy, democracy and sociocracy? 'We interact with each other every day; we have our own office society, in Latin a 'socios.' 'Demos' refers to the mass of people who mostly don't know each other socially, and 'auto' refers to one person - the boss. Day-to-day, having a boss make the final decisions is useful and efficient, but if that's the only decision-making structure you use, conflicts can smolder, people get ignored, and it's hard for the office to work in harmony. Roundtables surface any conflicts so that we can deal with them, and we work more organically and creatively. It's a deeper process than traditional participative management."

Please read the full version of this article here.

by Liz Baumgarten,
Executive Director Elect of
Charity Lobbying in the Public Interest

Many have entered the public policy fray due to budget crises and cuts at the federal, state and local levels, providing a perfect teaching moment . . . in which nonprofits might see that their role as advocates and experts in their issue area is vital to policymakers. If they can diversify their funding base, work in coalition with other like-minded organizations, gain clarity on the law, invest in staff capacity and/or develop their boards with an eye toward public policy involvement, the sector could be strengthened for true social change.

Summary: Tips for Capacity Builders

?Help nonprofits find resources for lobbying by diversifying their funding base and seeking general operating support from private foundations;
?Help nonprofits see themselves as experts in their subject area and partners with government in addressing issues facing their constituencies;
?Familiarize yourself with the laws related to public policy advocacy so you can help nonprofits be more effective in advocacy and lobbying, knowing that both are legal for nonprofits
?Build advocacy/public policy considerations into board and staff development plans; and,
?Facilitate and encourage coalitions of organizations to engage in advocacy.

Please read the full version of this article here.

If there is a topic on leadership or organizational development that you would like to share or see us address, please send us an e-mail at .

Our mailing list is not sold, rented, or otherwise distributed. To unsubscribe, please send us an e-mail at .


by Leroy McCarty

Raise your hand if you have ever worked for a leader whose lack of knowledge . . . created great pains for your organization. Quite a few I see (or at least I imagine, since I can not see you). You can put your hands down.

Raise your hand if you have ever worked for a leader whose abundance of knowledge . . . created great pains for your organization. Again, I imagine quite a few. You can put your hands down.

I trust we all agree a certain level of knowledge about the down-and-dirty details of how the organization works is necessary, but what level of detail? What is the optimal base of knowledge for effective leadership?

To answer this question I have categorized knowledge into two buckets ? strategic and technical:


Please read the full version of this article here.

by Jeffrey S. Nielsen

The governing values of a peer-based organization are:

?Openness
?Transparency
?Competence
?Alignment

Openness is the value of full disclosure of information to all individuals in the organization. It is a prima facie assumption against secrets. Of course, there are exceptions to full disclosure, but such exceptions must be justified and infrequent. Openness is also the value of communication that flows without barriers between all members of the organization.

Transparency is the value of full participation in the decision making process by every member of the organization to the level and degree of their sense of comfort and desire. It is opposed to any and all hidden agendas that corrupt genuine community within the organization.

Competence is the value of continuous learning by every individual in the organization. There are certain intellectual skills required that everyone has the ability to develop, but not everyone has had the opportunity to develop. Things like decision-making, problem-solving, strategic thinking, and active listening to others. All members of the organization need to develop these skills so they can fully contribute.
Alignment is the value of engaging the entire organization around common interests. A constant struggle in every rank-based organization is ameliorating the conflict between an individual's self-interest and the best interest of the whole organization. In the absence of openness and transparency, this conflict is exasperated. Through full disclosure of information, open communication, and the opportunity to participate in decision making, an individual's sense of self-interest is enlarged to include the interest of all others in the organization.

Please read the full version of this article here.


Please visit us on the internet ?
http://www.PointsofLight.org;
http://centerpointforleaders.org