A Perspective on Leadership Philosophy
“Action is indeed the sole medium of expression for ethics.” – Jane Addams (U.S. Social Worker, 1860-1935)
This quote defines our leadership philosophy at the Clintonville Beechwold Community Resources Center. We are a nonprofit social services organization in Columbus, Ohio. Social work principles that guide our ethical business practices include service, stewardship, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity and competence.
Compassionate love is also a big part of our philosophy: to treat each client in a compassionate and respectful way that is mindful of individual differences, cultural norms and ethnic diversity. We strive to ensure that each community member has the means to fulfill their basic human needs.
As leaders, it’s important that we communicate this to our employees. Allow us to share so perhaps it can inspire you on how to communicate your organization’s philosophy to your staff.
On our end, we communicate our philosophy and values through our agency manuals, policy and procedures, volunteers and employee handbooks. We also do this through employee evaluations, staff meetings and client satisfaction surveys. Staff trainings are devoted to the ethical practice guidelines provided by The National Association of Social Worker’s (NASW) in its code of ethics, as well as, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging (COAAA), to name a few.
These guidelines are referenced when developing manuals for employees, vendors and clients. Leaders in all organizations could adopt this same philosophy to guide them in their daily work.
During our bi-weekly staff meetings we discuss this philosophy and its impact on our community. CRC Outreach workers have been presented with certificates of achievement for their dedication in helping meet client needs by Franklin County Senior Options, as well as given honorable mention by their supervisors. Program achievements are highlighted during the board of trustees meetings.
Personally, I believe the most important leadership value is humility. This is defined as modesty or respectfulness- the quality of being modest or respectful. The antonym of humility is arrogance. In keeping with the quality of humility we need to remember where we come from.
As leaders, we must not get caught up in pointing out the wrong way the other guy is doing it. As author Jordan Peterson points out, “In the West, we have been withdrawing from our tradition-, religion-, and even nation-centered cultures. The highly functional infrastructure that surrounds us, particularly in the West, is a gift from our ancestors: the comparatively incorrupt political and economic systems, the technology, the wealth, the lifespan, the freedom, the luxury and the opportunity.”
Futhermore, a leader must have respect for the gifts our predecessors have bestowed upon us and recognize that their own ideas, knowledge and personality will always be limited by their humanity: what they don’t know or haven’t experienced themselves. A leader must recognize that differences between people make it harder for some to have a path to health and success. Leaders must speak out for those whose voice is being ignored, with humility, compassionate love and truth.
As leaders we must also exemplify these virtues:
Justice (kindness); antonym - envy
Fortitude (diligence); antonym – sloth
Temperance (moderation of needed things); antonym- gluttony
Patience; antonym –wrath
Charity; antonym - greed
Many organizations around the world incorporate these values and hold themselves to these same standards of loving kindness to others. Today’s leaders must strive to make sure each member of the community has the means to secure food, water, and shelter for themselves.
Allow me to leave you with a couple quotes:
“Love without humility results in the inclination to act as everyone's parent, humility without love results in the need to be everyone's child, and love with humility results in the desire to be a friend.” ― Criss Jami, Healology
“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” Norman Schwarzkopf
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