The 5 practices of exemplary leadership

There are five core practices of effective leadership that are commonly outlined in leadership groups: Model the Way, Inspire a Shared Vision, Challenge the Process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. By following these 5 principles, you will be off to a great start being an effective role model in the community.

This guide is mainly directed at staff, but others may also read for insight.

Model the Way

Represent Spill the T and set an example of what the community is about. Do what you speak, and follow your own expectations of the community. In other words, if you (as a staff member) ask the community to do or not to do something, you should also do / not do that as well in order to set a good example.

With modeling the Way comes effective communication. Staff need to be assertive and concise, while also understanding and being open to what others have to say, when communicating their expectations of the community. This holds especially true when disciplining members.

Modeling the Way also involves having an awareness of personal core values. Staff and members need to work together, acknowledging the core values of everyone. Sometimes, members or staff will need to compromise on core values for the benefit of the community as a whole.

Conflict of Interest has no place in any community. As part of modeling the way, staff need to ensure that personal relationships do not influence the decisions they make. For example, staff are to treat a close friend or significant other who violated the rules just as they would a stranger or an enemy who violated the rules.

Religion should also not influence the decisions staff make. For example, some religions are against LGBT and see it as wrong. But it is necessary to ensure LGBT identifying individuals are welcomed and not discriminated. In fact, it is illegal in some places to discriminate against them. It is necessary to set religious beliefs aside for the benefit of the community.

Inspire a Shared Vision

It is important that every community, such as Spill the T, has a shared vision, especially when collaborating with other communities. Have a mission and vision statement, and agree collectively on the community’s core values and focus.

When partnering or collaborating with other communities, a shared vision should be established among the collaboration. Determine what each community needs, and what each community can bring to the table for other communities. From there, create a vision / goals as to what each community will contribute to the other communities. And follow that vision during the collaboration.

Challenge the Process

Sometimes, what the staff has in place is not the most efficient nor the best for the community. Or, it may have worked well in the past, but community dynamics change and it no longer suits them. It is important, both for staff and for the members of the community, to challenge the process when something more efficient and productive is possible for the community.

Challenging the process involves speaking up by giving constructive criticism when something can be improved to benefit the community as a whole. It is not criticizing something that inconveniences someone individually and would have no greater benefit for the community as a whole to improving.

When challenging the process, it is important to know the audience. Understand your “whys” as well as the “whys” of the rest of the community. Understand how your whys will benefit the community as a whole, and not just you. Be aware that your pros and cons may not be the pros and cons of other people, nor the community as a majority. Involve, motivate, and encourage other people who have the skills that could get the idea going. Be open minded to feedback, opinions, and criticism when challenging the process.

Challenging the process is finding and implementing new and better ways to accomplish goals and visions as a community. Sometimes, it may not be the right time to implement a new idea, or the idea may come in conflict with the core vision of the community. Challenging the process is not trying to change values or standards because it makes someone uncomfortable (unless it makes the community collectively uncomfortable). It is not personally attacking others, nor trying to get rid of what is working well. It is not trying to eliminate personal inconveniences; those should be worked on by the person facing the inconvenience individually.

Challenging the process also involves questioning the rules and procedures. Staff should ask themselves, for every rule and procedure, “why do we have this in place?”. If staff cannot come up with a good supportive argument, or the mindset is “that’s just how we’ve been doing it”, it may be worthy to re-consider if the rule or procedure is relevant.

Enable Others to Act

Enabling others involves collaborating with other people, as well as encouraging other people and the strengths they bring to the community. It is talking people “up” (encouragement), not “down” (negative criticism), even when the member in question has done something wrong. It is also guiding the community and letting them grow and thrive on their own, rather than staff telling the community what to do or how to grow.

Delegation is important. A community is larger than any one individual within it, and no one individual can effectively handle all of the tasks. Combine the skills and talents of multiple people to achieve a goal. Communicate tasks, goals, and expectations concisely. However, guide people rather than telling them how to do it. This means telling people what needs to be done, but letting them decide how they will accomplish the task. What works best for one person in terms of process may not work for another person.

Encourage the Heart

Did you know?: Encouraging others leads to more healthy and productive people in the workforce, according to research. Encouragement is such a powerful and motivational tool. As staff, ensure to celebrate the talents and the achievements of community members. In doing so, members will feel more like they belong and have an important part in this community, which they all do.

Take a look at the Death Crawl scene from Facing the Giants:

Listening goes hand-in-hand with encouraging the heart. As staff, listen to the needs of other members and to the community with an open heart and an open mind. Progress is not achieved without the openness to change and adapt. Be open to suggestions and feedback, regularly checking in with the community to see where you stand and where you can improve.