Is climbing a telephone pole in a snowstorm a better job than being the United States President? There was once a time when I thought that the role of the President was a super exciting, rewarding, and maybe even fun job. No longer. It seems downright scary. Scarier than most of the jobs I can think of, but this probably wasn’t always the case.
Public perception of leaders is changing. It seems like every day, more and more criticism heaps on the shoulders of politicians and corporate CEOs worldwide. While leaders of large organizations are often receiving very public scorn amplified in the media, small organizations are not immune either.
It is a tough time to be a school principal, a middle-manager, or even an executive director of an association.
There are a few things that can trip you up with your constituents. The appearance of not hearing, seeing or caring about stakeholders’ needs. Opaqueness on topics that could be transparent. Today’s members want leaders who demonstrate behaviors different from what was acceptable for leaders of the past.
Think about the evolution in leadership styles. Decades ago, leaders were more authoritarian. More recently, more leaders, especially in non-profits, have been adopting a servant-leader position.
Perhaps it is time for the next evolution? Maybe the next successful leadership type to emerge will be leaders who lead more in partnership with their members. Imagine if the future leaders invite more member-wide collaboration, talk frankly about essential issues, and listen to members every opportunity they get. Will this take hold, and we call this leadership style collaborative leadership?