Sunday, August 21, 2011

Leadership and the Social Entrepreneur

While drinking coffee and eating apple fritters this morning, I ran across this story about leadership in today’s NY Times. The story, Leadership Doesn’t Rest on Your Title by Adam Bryant, was about Terri Ludwig, president and C.E.O. of Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit housing finance organization.

First, I liked Ms. Ludwig’s comments about being a producing leader. All too often people tend to think leadership is about strategy and goal setting and all that stuff…and forget that leaders have to be out there doing things…or as she puts it…producing.

Secondly, I like the description of her transition to social entrepreneurship. So many of the social entrepreneurs I know could have led a large company or started a successful entrepreneurial one, but instead chose to put their skills to work helping others. Years ago in Orlando, I met a gentleman named Frank who ran the Boys and Girls Clubs. He was one of the absolute best business people I knew, and thank goodness he decided to take that route. By Frank doing what he did in life, he ended up helping out literally hundreds and hundreds of children and set a wonderful example for people who he motivated to start helping others as well.

From the article:

Q. How would you say your management style has evolved over time?

A. I think I’m more self-aware. When you become C.E.O. of a large organization, you become aware that you telegraph things that you may not intentionally telegraph. So you make sure that you’re really telegraphing the information that you want, and it’s important to make sure you’re keeping that energy really positive.

You also really have to think about your audience and how you’re communicating. I grew up on a trading desk, so I’m a bullet girl — give me the high points, let’s make a decision, let’s have action. But when we’re dealing with governmental partners and a lot of other partners, or even within Enterprise, there’s a healthy process. And you have to think about how to get the best result and the best outcome, and go through a process without letting it become an obstacle.

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