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Oct31ThuLEADS framework establishes new culture of leadership. October 31, 2019 by Paul Carew
Autumn is a season of renewed hopes for football fans. Training camps, trades and free agent acquisitions have all been completed, and success is now determined by what happens on the field. As a longtime fan of the Dallas Cowboys, I look forward to evenings spent on the couch with the family, wearing our Cowboys jerseys (mine is a Roger Staubach shirt from the ’70s). At the Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium, they always prominently display the Red Shield and support The Salvation Army’s charity drive.
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Football lends itself to discussions about team leadership, given the complexity of picking the right players and plays to achieve success. Tony Dungy is a former Super Bowl-winning head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and an analyst on Sunday Night Football. As an outspoken Christian and the author of books such as The Mentor Leader and The Soul of a Team, Dungy understands that caring for and developing players is crucial. For Dungy, good leadership is about “making the lives of your team or workers better.”
The Salvation Army also recognizes the importance of developing our team. In the April-June 2019 issue of The Officer magazine, General Brian Peddle stated: “Leader development is a key factor in being fit and positioned to take our place in the world according to God’s plan and purpose…. We will be our best when we have created a culture in which we are all engaged in leader development. Our commitment to it as The Salvation Army and as leaders is critical to our success.”
New Territorial Strategy
In 2012, identifying and developing leaders was articulated as a strategic priority of the Canada and Bermuda Territory. In 2015, the leadership development department was charged with creating and implementing a plan to develop leaders—officers, employees and lay Salvationists. This call has led to a more strategic approach to leadership development at the territorial level.
Until recently, The Salvation Army, like many other organizations, understood leadership through the lens of role or rank. But this understanding doesn’t work in today’s work environment. Our organizational realities are becoming increasingly complex—administratively, programmatically and spiritually. Accountability and transparency are paramount, especially for faith-based organizations. These elements must be incorporated into an intentional leadership development strategy that ensures our ministries are well equipped to fulfil our mission.
Successful leadership doesn’t just mean improving “technical” skills. There also needs to be a deep commitment to the mission and values of the organization, as well as the mastery of what are often described as “soft” or “human” skills. These skills can be taught. The idea that some people are born with an innate capacity to lead is a myth. Research shows that key capabilities common in all successful leaders can be learned and developed over time. The development of these attributes is the mandate of the leadership development department.
What is LEADS?
Lt-Colonel Brian Armstrong, secretary for personnel, recognized the need for a leadership capability framework, a way to clearly identify attributes required for all leaders. He notes, “As an organization working in a world of constant change, it is imperative that The Salvation Army adopt a framework to stay focused, be consistent and have clarity about how we will achieve our mission.”
What is a leadership capability framework? Put simply, it is a description of the ingredients essential for good leadership. It provides both the lens and the language through which we can understand the capabilities expected of an organizational leader.
To this end, the Canada and Bermuda Territory has adopted the LEADS Leadership Capability Framework, first designed in 2006 by a research team from Royal Roads University for the British Columbia health-care system and later adopted by the Canadian College of Health Leaders. More formally known as LEADS in a Caring Environment Leadership Capability Framework, the language and approach resonate deeply with the ethos of our mission and ministry in Canada and Bermuda.
The LEADS framework provides a common language to describe the capabilities and competencies expected of leadership across all levels of our organization. LEADS is not a model or program. Rather, it is a lens we can use to understand leadership as more than simply a role or position. It drives leadership development initiatives, defines expectations of leaders and develops a structure for the creation of job profiles and postings, performance assessments, interviews and succession planning.
The LEADS framework defines leadership capabilities within five domains. While the list is not exhaustive, it provides us with an excellent overview of what we expect of our leaders. These need to be combined with the development of the technical skills required in a particular ministry as well as a commitment to our mission and values. Each of the five LEADS capability domains is divided into four competencies or capabilities.
- LEAD SELF: Self-motivated leaders are … self-aware; develop themselves; manage themselves; demonstrate character.
- ENGAGE OTHERS: Engaging leaders … foster development of others; communicate effectively; contribute to the creation of healthy organizations; build teams.
- ACHIEVE RESULTS: Goal-oriented leaders … set direction; take action to implement decisions; strategically align decisions with vision, values and evidence; assess and evaluate.
- DEVELOP COALITIONS: Collaborative leaders … purposefully build partnerships and networks to create results; mobilize knowledge; demonstrate a commitment to customers and service; navigate socio-political environments.
- SYSTEMS TRANSFORMATION: Successful leaders … demonstrate systems/critical thinking; orient themselves strategically to the future; encourage and support innovation; champion and orchestrate change.
A deeper dive into the four competencies of each domain can lead to specific behavioural expectations. For example, in the LEAD SELF area, self-awareness can help leaders to admit when they’ve made a mistake or begin to surround themselves with staff whose strengths are different from their own. These skills can help determine an individual’s competency, form the basis for performance discussions and provide goals for future development. For many new leaders, the LEADS framework can provide encouragement as they grow into their leadership roles. It is reassuring to know that mastery of these capabilities is ongoing; leadership is always a work in progress.
The balance of leadership capabilities, technical skills and commitment to the mission and values of our organization is of great importance to our work as The Salvation Army.
The leadership development department continues to meet the leadership needs of the Canada and Bermuda Territory through learning and development strategy and opportunities. The onboarding and integration of the LEADS framework is a first step in building a culture of strong leadership.
Ultimately, it all comes back to our mission, our game plan. As Tony Dungy notes, “The best leaders are following Christ.” You don’t need to be a football fan to realize we’re all on his team.
Paul Carew is the territorial leadership development secretary.
Illustration: justinkendra/iStock.com via Getty Images
What’s Happening Now?
In collaboration with the LEADS Canada team, we have designed a LEADS Learning Series that is Army-specific and unique to our territory. Versions of this have been delivered in a variety of contexts, including to divisional leadership, senior camp staff, and emergency and disaster services leads. There are also a number of two-day workshops scheduled over the next 18 months, with more anticipated.
In each of these offerings, participants are familiarized with the language and theoretical background of LEADS. They engage in activities, discussions and the use of practical tools, with the anticipation that they can integrate and demonstrate their learning upon returning to their unique ministry contexts. Work has been done to connect the LEADS framework to PEAC (Performance Excellence and Coaching) discussions for officers and employees in leadership positions. This initiative is ongoing as we discover the value of incorporating LEADS language into job descriptions and using LEADS as a rubric in succession planning.
Watch for future Salvationist articles by Salvation Army leaders on each of the LEADS domains.
In November, we will be launching a new leadership development website at Salvationist.ca. There you’ll discover details about the LEADS framework as well as information about the many learning opportunities available throughout the territory.