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Effective leadership is critical for nonprofit organizations and it’s in short supply. New, emerging leaders most often could benefit from some key guiding principles, and even the most seasoned leaders need to constantly learn and be challenged to revisit their assumptions. That’s why in my coaching practice, I use a framework I call Bold Intentions as a catalyst for challenging questions and insights that support people in elevating their effectiveness as leaders.

The Bold Intentions framework consists of five exhortations:

  1. Question in order to unlearn: Humility enables us to be open to change and capable of adapting when necessary. An effective leader certainly ought to have conviction in order to inspire confidence in followers, but an excess of pride can compromise leadership. An effective leader also asks questions to know the truth.
  2. Dare to befriend controversy: Resilience enables us to go outside our comfort zone and deal with disagreement and conflict. An effective leader certainly ought to be cautious of unproductive discord in order to establish common goals and shared vision, but an aversion to dealing with conflict can compromise leadership. An effective leader surfaces differences to make the organization stronger.
  3. Bridge forbidden boundaries: Inclusiveness enables us to forge relationships between groups and seek alliances in unexpected places. An effective leader certainly ought to honor protocols in order to show proper respect for established norms, but a strict reliance on organizational structures can compromise leadership. An effective leader creates new connections to unleash productive energy.
  4. Cultivate generative capacity: Creativity enables us to focus on envisioning possibilities and act as a catalyst of growth. An effective leader certainly ought to be mindful of practical limitations in order to make responsible decisions, but a strong sense of pragmatism can compromise leadership. An effective leader regularly finds the space to encourage and act on big ideas.
  5. Integrate all experiences: Wisdom enables us to see patterns we would otherwise miss and to also be at ease with ambiguity. An effective leader certainly ought to be disciplined about executing the agreed upon plans, but a blind focus on the tasks at hand in order to meet targets can compromise leadership. An effective leader pauses to find value in every moment and circumstance.

Leadership is messy. Neither Bold Intentions nor any other framework is the absolute formula for effective leadership. The power of Bold Intentions lies in the insights it brings to Windfires clients for elevating their leadership performance.

Question. Dare. Bridge. Cultivate. Integrate.

Daniel Doucette is president of Windfires. Through coaching, consultation and workshops Windfires engages with boards, senior leadership teams, middle managers and emerging leaders.  ‘Bold Intentions’, its signature leadership framework, serves all clients’ to expect and attain the most from their leaders’ performance. 

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