Once the Leadership Team
completes the steps and activities discussed in this chapter, it has a Leadership Perspective from which it can
successfully participate within the agency’s incorporating environment. Through
its Initiators and Authorizers, the agency develops and sustains sufficient
resources and auspices to continue operations. Through its Implementers and
agency Management, it assures services are in place to serve its clients and
that those services and agency operations conform to accepted regulations,
standards, and guidelines. Through the agency’s services structure and its
Providers, the agency works to assure the help it provides is the help its
clients need and deserve. Through its connection with and attention to
potential clients and to those who may refer potential clients to the agency,
the likelihood people in need will be better able to cope with their needs,
problems, and vulnerabilities down the road increases. Further, everyone
associated with the agency is better able to contribute to the success of other
people and organizations in ways far beyond the agency’s narrow
responsibilities. Only when all participants in the human services community
succeed can an individual human services agency make a difference consistent
with its full potential.


I hope the point has been made
the Management Perspective and the Leadership Perspective are not the same and
they both are required for agency excellence. I also hope the point is clear
neither is more or less important than the other. Both are essential
perspectives from which to pursue agency excellence. Let me reiterate one other
critical point here.


Help is only helpful if it helps. Everything we do should support and further the success of our
stakeholders in general and our clients in particular. Nothing we do should
jeopardize their success or serve any other purpose. As I said in Chapter One, the point of developing a human services
agency is to help people cope with the needs, problems, and vulnerabilities in
their lives. Everything we do should further this outcome and nothing we do
should interfere with achieving the outcome.


The standard is simple. Do
the right things right, the first time, on time, every time, one client at a
time.
What is the right thing? This is also simple. Make sure the help we
provide is help that truly helps.


Pause
to Consider


I include this excerpt as an important
perspective on agency leadership and on the importance of solid connections
with external stakeholders. Schneider applies the leadership concepts to a
child protection setting; but they apply equally to any human services agency
and its incorporating environment. The key concepts are subsumed within the
strategic triangle : value creation, enhancing the authorizing environment,
and operational capacity building. An
explanation of the three legs of the strategic triangle is instructive.


Value Creation:  Stakeholders within the agency and external
to it value the protection of children, i.e.,
the agency’s clients and its services. Value creation starts with supporting
and increasing the level of importance agency stakeholders attribute to the
agency and its activities. How well does the agency serve its clients?


Enhancing the Authorizing Environment:  When the agency and its activities are
legitimated and supported by key stakeholders, other members of the human
services community, the media, and the general public, the authorizing
environment – the incorporating environment – is agency friendly. The agency
has substantial authorization to effectively address key issues and to take
advantage of excellence opportunities. A commonly asked question is, How much authorization is needed to move
forward?
Fortunately or unfortunately, the answer is, Enough. Accurately and consistently gauging how much authorization
is enough is a core skill distinguishing traditional managers from the new
leadership. This leadership requires a sustained effort to build individual
relationships with all authorizing stakeholders. Leaders constantly assess the
authorizing environment, assure stakeholders have accurate and complete
information, and attend carefully to changing needs and interests.


Leadership also requires risk-taking. Leaders
must know when to move forward and when to consolidate past advances before
moving forward. They have to carefully assess how much pressure the environment
can productively tolerate, internally and externally. They then maintain the
vital level of pressure needed to support the new adaptation, no more, no less.


This is not especially difficult or risky, if
the leader never makes mistakes, never confronts controversial issues, never
makes unpopular decisions, never disappoints influential people, and never
pursues change faster or in directions that cause discomfort. Under those
restraints, the authorizing environment would be quite stable.


If, instead, the leader does make occasional
mistakes, does irritate and frustrate people at times, and does make unpopular
decisions and take controversial actions, the authorizing environment can
become very volatile. At those times, the leader must draw on authorization
reserves. Along with authorization when things are going well, leaders must
maintain authorization reserves for the more difficult times that inevitably
come. This means continuous enhancement of the authorizing environment is not
only a good idea, it is required just to stay even.


Operational capacity building:  Operational capacity refers to the internal
and external resources required to do what needs to be done. This includes
enough people who have the necessary skills and competencies as well as
sufficient access to needed hard and soft resources. Moreover, both internal
and external people and resources are required to adequately and appropriately
serve agency clients. No single agency has the internal or organizational
capacity to do the job alone. It requires the collective resources and efforts
of all stakeholders. Continuous capacity building is not just important; it is
an essential difference between agencies that achieve excellence and those that
do not.


Which is more important: value, authorization,
or capacity? The reality is without value, there is no authorization. Without
authorization, there is no capacity. Without capacity, the agency produces
nothing of value. If nothing of value is produced, there can be no
authorization.


Unless an agency’s commitment is to
aggressively pursuing all three legs of the strategic triangle concurrently,
the effort will fall short and the clients for whom it is responsible will not
be helped. What’s more, to achieve the level of excellence agency clients
deserve and must have agency leadership must be:


·
Mission-focused,
understanding the agency’s mission incorporates its primary value creation
potential;


·
Externally
oriented, understanding although there are important internal stakeholders, the
primary stakeholders in the authorizing environment are external to the agency;


·
Opportunity
seeking, understanding capacity building is, in large measure, dependent on the
leader’s ability to recognize and exploit opportunities to appropriate
resources in the service of its clients.