Saturday, April 7, 2007

ED Leader Newsletter #6

Dear Reader:

Welcome to the sixth issue of the ED Leader Newsletter.

Scroll down and you will find articles on:

Enjoy the articles and let me know what you think. Don's email.Your feedback so far has been terrific. Feedback on the past week's articles was great. Thank you for your emails.

Please drop by the ED Leader Blog:
Best wishes,

Don Iannone
Publisher, ED Leader Journal

Keeping Your Volunteer Leaders Satisfied

It matters that your volunteer board members are satisfied with their service to your organization. A recent article by GuideStar offers solid advice on keeping your vounteer leaders and keeping them satisfied.

The GuideStar article says: "It's no secret that a dedicated group of volunteers is an important cornerstone of many nonprofit agencies. In fact, according to a recent study, approximately 6 million volunteers are active in American nonprofit organizations, contributing a total of more than 15 billion volunteer hours. Volunteer hours equate to the work of more than 9 million full-time employees, making the value of volunteer labor close to $284 billion. With statistics like these, it's also no secret that organizations should be willing to do what it takes to retain volunteers. But exactly what does it take to keep volunteers? And what causes volunteers to leave?

Simply put, to reduce turnover, volunteers must be pleased with the environment in which they work and motivated by the tasks to which they are assigned. This month, we look at the things that motivate volunteers to stay. Next month, we'll examine the environmental factors that cause them to leave."

To read the complete article click on this link.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Qualities of the Conscious Leader

Economic development leaders must be conscious leaders. What is conscious leadership? According to Farr Associates, a executive and organization development firm based in High Point, NC, conscious leaders possess three key qualities:

Quality 1: You must have the skill to gain insight into the follower's mind, concerning his situation, and how they perceive you. In particular, you must know what they perceive as negative. Since sensible followers are reluctant to say negative things to anyone who has power over their work lives, mapping out negative perceptions takes a good deal of leader skill. A leader can break down any reluctance to give feedback by supporting the efforts of followers to work in a way that satisfies both themselves and their company. A good leader knows and consistently uses some of the many techniques for learning follower's needs and assessing how they experience their environment. Leaders need to create and manage a system of feedback loops that keep them in permanent touch with follower mindset, so they lead professionally with maximum impact.
Quality 2: To be a powerful leader, you must present your "leaderself" to others, rather than your "naturalself." Good leaders do not always do what comes as a natural expression of their personalities. Instead, they come from a leaderself that is designed and created to do exactly the leadership behavior called for by the situation. They fit the leader role rather than make the role fit them. It is amazing how often poor leadership occurs because leaders do what comes naturally from their personalities rather than what is needed to be effective.
Quality 3: To create an effective “leaderself”, you must operate from self-awareness rather than from an automatic mind. For many leaders, this is unbelievably difficult, because they are unaware of much of what they do and of the perceptions they create in others. They act on automatic pilot, focusing attention on what they want as an end outcome in the business, with little or no thought on how they want the follower to feel, see and change their behavior. They lead with too much focus on what they want done, rather than from an awareness of followers' mindset. Often, the personality traits that make for effective managers can make them terrible leaders, especially once their role expands beyond leadership, based on their personal charisma and implementation skills.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Conscious Communities Blog Started

I would like to let my ED Leader readers know that about two months ago I started a new blog, Conscious Communities, which explores how communities facilitate the consciousness of their citizens.

<--(Photo: Downtown Bloomington, Indiana)

While not an economic development website per se, Conscious Communities has a great deal to offer economic development. You can access Consciousness Communities here:

My friend Steve Woodall of Cherokee Nation asked me what I meant by "conscious" communities. His question was timely and made me think. Here is what I said to Steve.

I am working in the direction of a definition of conscious communities. I am hoping to find a way to “measure” the consciousness of communities. I’m trying to get at what the tag line says: Creating Places of Heightened Awareness and Expression.

Right now, I would say conscious communities are communities that:

  • Cultivate the consciousness of their citizens and encourage heightened awareness and expression by their citizens.

  • Exhibit a sense of meaning and purpose that permeates the community in various ways.

  • Are reflective of the values and culture of their citizens.

  • Are responsive to the fundamental human needs of their citizens.

  • Are environmentally sound or sustainable.

  • Foster and support the financial and economic prosperity of their citizens.

  • Are civically engaged and aware.

  • Encourage and foster sound democratic and effective community leadership/stewardship.

  • Are accountable to their citizens.

  • Plan ahead and make investments in community building

  • Encourage and support the learning and education of their citizens.

  • Encourage and support the spiritual growth of their citizens.

  • Encourage and support the physical health of their citizens.

  • Encourage and support the happiness and psychological well-being of their citizens.

  • Encourage and support the growth of creativity in their citizens.

  • Encourage the building of social networks and relationships supporting their citizens.
To my new readers, I would ask: What does "conscious" community mean to you?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Shambhala Institute: Authentic Leadership Development at Its Best

The Shambhala Institute (SI) is an international network of people, projects, and programs actively engaged in the organizational and societal challenges of our time. The Institute is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada.

<---(Photo: Margaret Wheatley, speaker at SI's June leadership conference.)

The Institute is a nonprofit organization funded by a combination of program tuition, grants, and donations. While rooted in the vision, meditation practice, and principles of the Shambhala tradition, the Institute welcomes a rich diversity of people and perspectives.


The Institute supports, connects, and amplifies the bright lights across organizations and communities—the visionaries, pathfinders, entrepreneurs, and other agents of change and innovation in business, government, and civil society. In this way, the Institute fosters movements towards more enlightened societies.

What the Institute Does

It fulfills this mission by creating powerful environments of learning, dialogue, practice, and community.

The Institute's programs are known for their unique blend of ancient and leading-edge theory, practices, and principles. These programs are inspired by Buddhism and other wisdom traditions, and by the great thinkers, researchers, and front-line leaders of our time.

Since 2001, the Authentic Leadership Summer Program has attracted 250 people to Nova Scotia each June and has become internationally known as a premier leadership development venue. The Summer Program is also a place where connections are forged among networks, organizations, and individuals engaged in organizational and community change projects worldwide.

Authentic Leadership Summer Program 2007
June 24-30, 2007
Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Institute's flagship, the annual Authentic Leadership Summer program, is a convergence of people, methodologies, and projects at the leading edge of organizational and social innovation. At the centre of this six-day program are ten parallel skill-building modules, led by pioneers in their fields. The program also includes featured speakers, embodiment and awareness practices, World Café conversations, and opportunities for networking and self-organizing within an international learning community. The result is an intensive, integrative, and unforgettable learning experience that connects personal leadership goals with a living field of global perspectives, expertise, and collective intelligence.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Making the Most of Your Mental Faculties

Leaders must be clear thinking and be able to use their mental and emotional intelligence. Here are some interesting and fun exercises to help you tap more of your gray matter.

(Note: Click on picture to enlarge. Just the picture will get larger; not your brain).

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Left Brain Exercises
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Monday, April 2, 2007

ED Leader Profile: Jeffrey A. Finkle

Jeff Finkle is the President and CEO of the International Economic Development Council, which is known as IEDC to most economic development professionals. For those of you not aware of IEDC, it is the national professional association for economic developers. Over 4,500 economic development professionals and others interested in economic development issues belong to the Washington-based organization. IEDC operates several programs developing the knowledge and skills of economic developers and advocating for economic development issues on the national, state and local levels.

I first met Jeff Finkle in 1986, the same year he assumed the reins of the National Council of Urban Economic Development (CUED), which joined with the American Economic Development Council (AEDC) in 2001 to form IEDC. Because of his position, Jeff Finkle has better access than most of us to economic developers and their leaders across the country and internationally. For this reason, I decided to interview Jeff about his thoughts on economic development leadership.

As background, Jeff grew up in Newark, Ohio, just east of Columbus. In 1976, he graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Political Science. Immediately upon graduation, Jeff went to work for Karl Rove, a longstanding Republican Party influential type, who currently serves as President Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Jeff’s first job was to visit college campuses and encourage students to get involved in Republican politics.

I asked Jeff what he learned about leadership from his early experience in Republican politics, and he said: “ I learned the age-old principle of the ‘power of leverage;” that is by getting many people involved in something, you can leverage a difference. Some call it the ‘pyramid effect.’ Whatever you call it, it has worked consistently throughout my career.” Jeff went on to say that for the leverage principle to work, you must be organized. You need a strategy to gain people’s involvement and commitment. He added that you must appeal to them personally. People want to feel they are personally significant to outcomes.

After his initial career assignment, Jeff went to work for the Ohio Republican Party, where as a young professional, he managed the incumbent Secretary of State Ted Brown’s 1978 re-election campaign, who lost his seat when he was narrowly defeated by Anthony J. Celebrezze Jr. in a race that required a recount. Jeff said that from this experience he learned how to deal with and position leaders. He added that a key lesson for him from this experience is that sometimes you can do everything in your power to win, and you can still lose.

I asked Jeff if he thought politics and economic development were strange bedfellows. I shared with Jeff that in my career, I have seen where politics has both helped and hurt economic development. Moreover, some economic developers, especially those working in private sector economic development organizations, see politics as a negative factor in economic development. I asked Jeff about his view on this observation. He responded: “I think you ignore politics and elected officials at your own peril. To categorically write-off government as a factor in economic development is a mistake. Smart economic developers know that government is a powerful stakeholder in the economic development process. While it is true that political issues can negatively impact economic development, it is equally true that they can have a tremendous positive influence.” Jeff urges economic developers to see politics more in terms of public service, rather than focusing too much on power plays by political leaders. In this same sense, Jeff said that economic development should be seen as public service. Every economic development organization exists, to some degree, to serve the public interests of a geographic area.

Jeff spent the next seven years of his career in state and Federal government. The first two years he spent working for Ohio Governor James Rhodes in the state’s Department of Mental Health and Retardation. His work there involved helping the state make strategic decisions about the opening, expansion, and closing of its state mental health and retardation facilities. From this experience, Jeff says he learned how organizations make difficult decisions on whether to invest in or divest themselves of facilities. This, he says, was perfect training for understanding business facility decisions, an issue of keen interest to all economic developers.

For the next five years, Jeff worked in the Reagan Administration in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he started as a Special Assistant and was promoted quickly to Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Management, overseeing the Department’s popular Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and the Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) Program. From this experience, Jeff says he learned how things did and did not get done in Federal agencies related to economic development. Most of all, he learned how building partnerships with sister Federal agencies, state governments, and cities could accelerate action and get results. Jeff cities the UDAG program as one of the most popular and most effective federal policy tools for economic development. He attributes the UDAG’s effectiveness and impact to the program’s flexibility and the fact it encouraged local governments to be highly creative in responding to their economic development needs in partnership with the Federal government and the private sector.

In 1986, Jeff was recruited to the job of President of the National Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED), which was then a financially ailing organization that was losing members. Jeff instituted several aggressive financial and organizational changes that turned around the organization and put it back on a successful growth track. Jeff steered CUED until its merger with AEDC in 2001 to form IEDC. After personnel deliberations by the merging organizations’ boards, it was decided that Jeff was to head the new joint organization.

I asked Jeff what he has learned about leadership from his time at CUED and IEDC. Jeff said that by far the most important lesson was it is important not to think of leadership in the abstract. “Leadership is always embodied in specific personalities. Your chances of working successfully with any leader increase exponentially when you know, understand, and respect the person inside the leadership position. There were a number of times in my career when the only reason I could get something done in working with a leader was because I had a relationship with that person. So in addition to the principle of the power of leverage, I would add a second principle: the power of relationship.” Jeff quipped following this comment and said “friendships always last longer than relationships based upon sheer business convenience. I’ll take a leader who is my friend any day over one who is not.”

Jeff confided to me during our interview that he learned everything he ever needed to know about management and leadership from being a paperboy as a 12-year old boy. “Having a paper delivery route taught me about the importance of cash flow, sales, human resource management, treating people right, integrity, customer service, and honoring your commitments. Everything I learned after that simply reinforced that initial training.”

I asked Jeff what type of leader he was. Jeff said that he sees his style of leadership as “behind the scenes,” rather than center stage. Jeff said he has been more effective (influential) by giving the stage over to others than hogging it for himself. He added that: “economic development needs different types of leaders. The key is finding the right leader for the right job. You have to know people to make that match.” Most organizations and communities need both out-front and behind the scenes leaders.”

I asked Jeff whether IEDC members had struggles in dealing with their leadership. He said that they most definitely did. We talked some about turnover in top jobs in the field and the challenge of matching the right economic development CEO with an area’s needs and values. He reminded me that executive search, even in the best hands, was more an art than science. Jeff said he advises economic developers to be careful when looking for top jobs to make certain the job is right for them in terms of personal qualities, expectations, area values, and other factors. He added that there is more to it than more money and more power. “Some times areas pick the wrong person for the job, some times economic developers take the wrong job, and some times things change once you go to work for an organization. There is no substitute for good up-front due diligence on everybody’s part, and an ongoing willingness to learn and grow once you are in the job.”

I told Jeff my main reason for starting the Economic Development Leader Journal and why I was writing a book on economic development leadership. Namely, I am undertaking this work because we are not thinking about leadership strategically and we are not using leadership as a source of real competitive advantage for economic development. Jeff agreed with me and said that there was a definite need for more leadership education and leadership development. He said he was glad I had taken up this work.

Finally, Jeff and I talked about his outlook for leadership in economic development. He said he was optimistic, but confessed that we’re not doing enough to guarantee the field has the right supply of leaders in the future. He said that IEDC was giving much more attention to the issue, especially through its Leadership Summit, which is held each January. Jeff added that we need to work harder at bolstering leadership on two interrelated levels: the economic developer as leader; and volunteer leadership. He said both were important. Jeff noted that he sees more women, minorities, and younger professionals stepping into economic development leadership roles. This is important, he said, because leadership must reflect communities and society. When it doesn’t we have problems.

Jeff added at the end of our interview that he was most impressed with economic developers and volunteer leaders that exhibited a high degree of entrepreneurship in their approach to their work. “Leaders in economic development will always need to be creative and innovative in their approaches to getting things done. The solutions are not just sitting on a shelf somewhere to be pulled off and used. We must create those solutions.”

You can contact Jeff Finkle by email at IEDC at: Don Iannone’s email at ED Leader is:

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Peter Senge Interview on Organizational Learning

Many of us have read the influential work of Peter Senge, who has become nearly a household word in the fields of organizational behavior and leadership.

Who is Peter Senge? Peter Michael Senge was the Director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and is presently (2005) on the faculty at MIT. He is the founding chair of the Society for Organizational Learning (SoL). Senge emerged in the 1990s as a major figure in organizational development with his book The Fifth Discipline where he developed the notion of a learning organization. This views organizations as dynamical systems (as defined in Systemics) in a state of continuous adaptation and improvement .

Here is a summary of a highly informative interview with Senge in 1996 that reveals the basis for his thinking. This is a "deep" thinking piece, but well worth the journey. Senge's thinking is well-reflected in my new work in the field of human consciousness and organizations.

Question: Can we develop institutional wisdom?

Peter Senge: It seems to me that deep down the deepest questions for me have to do with the conscious evolution of human systems, because my own belief is that we have evolved in a very unbalanced way.… It seems to me that with power has to go wisdom, and there's no evidence at all that, particularly collectively, we have any wisdom at all.… Is it really possible to enhance institutional intelligence, the capacity collectively to understand, to have institutional wisdom, wisdom defined as having a deeper understanding of the longer-term consequences of action?

I've been amazed by people's capacity to face reality

So that's really been an overarching question, how you begin to help people collectively, in an organizational setting, tap into the real reserves that exist for profound learning and change, for facing things which seem impossible to alter…

Our systems of thought supersede life itself

Our systems of thought supersede life itself, so it's not vitalizing energy and we've lost. I think that if we can't rediscover that, we have no hope of ever developing the wisdom and the understanding that is going to be commensurate with our power. There is something that human beings have a capacity for that, if we don't tap, our power will annihilate us. I really do think that there is not much hope for that.

Matter & Mind: The issue behind all the issues

I had an interesting conversation a year ago with Mr. Nan, the Chinese Zen master who lives in Hong Kong. In China he's a very revered figure. He's considered an extraordinary scholar because of his integration of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. I asked him if he thought that the industrial age was going to create such environmental problems that we would destroy ourselves. And he didn't completely agree with that. It wasn't the way he saw it. He saw it at a deeper level, and he said, "There's only one issue in the world. It's the reintegration of mind and matter." That's exactly what he said to me, the reintegration of mind and matter…

We basically create organizations, which are like matter. And then, we become prisoners of those organizations. So you might very well say, "Thought creates organizations, and then organizations hold human beings prisoner" …

To me, the essence of what systems thinking is all about people beginning to consciously discover, explain and account for how their own patterns of thought and interaction manifest on a large scale, and create the very forces which the organization then 'is doing it to me.' And then they complete that feedback loop, and the most profound experiences I've ever had in consulting have always been when people suddenly go, "Holy cow! Look what we are doing to ourselves!" And what is always significant in those moments, is the we. Not "you," not "them," but we…

That is the way I would describe or define a true systems philosophy, which is one that closes the feedback loop between the human being, their experience of reality, and their sense of participation in that whole cycle of experience. There is nothing that is occurring in matter that is fundamentally inseparable from mind. So I think Mr. Nan is probably right. That is the issue behind all the issues.

You can't understand a system unless you create it

"You can't understand a system unless you create it." I agree with that completely. So it is now possible to say very succinctly what we are doing at the Learning Center, and in a way that I don't think we have ever been able to say it. It is really simple: to consciously attempt to create learning communities as a way of understanding learning communities.… At a deeper level what discipline is all about is this kind of approach to creating.… That’s a different kind of science…

The music doesn't come from the violin

Peter, what do you do when you facilitate workshops and co-create situations of large group transpersonal intimacy in large groups?

Peter Senge: I'll give you an instrumental response. To create music, you have to have violins. You have to have instruments, okay? But the music doesn't come from the violin. The violin is an instrument. For me, at an experiential level, I create that reality in my own consciousness, and then I play the instruments.… I just kind of fall into my love of the people.… and that is the music.

Say that two people are facilitating. The single most important, generative feature is the quality of that relationship.… To me, that's the essence of a loving relationship, because love is about presence. It's about showing up and being present.… Love is beyond feelings. Love is not a feeling state. Love is a state of consciousness beyond feelings…

I think there is a deeper force that's dominant, and that is what I would call this capacity to live in the world you want to create.… There is nothing more powerful in the creative process than knowing what you want to create.… If you know what you want to create, then you can to some degree live in that space in your own consciousness.

Infrastructures for Learning Communities

It seems to me, that there is a tremendous hunger today for community…

Experience, Truth, and Participatory Science

Embracing both conceptual and experiential truth.… Buckminster Fuller on science: to put the data of one's experience in order…i.e., each and every human being is born to be a scientist.


Senge’s research interest concerns the conscious evolution of human and systems and how to help people collectively tap into the reserves that exist for profound learning and change. The mind and matter story of Master Nan opened the space for rearticulating the essence of systems thinking as relinking matter and mind in the social world: to help people and organizations close feedback loops between collectively enacted behavior and the consciousness of those who act. Science, when performed from this deeper perspective, focuses on bringing forth new realities, for "you can’t understand a system unless you create it."

Likewise, leadership, when performed from the same perspective, is about accessing and operating from a "deeper force" related to the "capacity to live in the world you want to create" and bringing your full self into the present moment, "because love is about presence. It's about showing up and being present." How can we, I wonder, develop this quality of presence and awareness across larger systems?

Take Home Value for Economic Development?

What do these ideas have to say about economic development organizations and their mission in building greater prosperity in communities? I would welcome your thoughts on this question.

Here are two initial observations I would offer:

  • ED organizations could become learning organizations and increase their impact on their goals by adopting the ideas and strategies outlined by Peter Senge. My work with many ED organizations reflects that they are not currently equipped to learn and apply their learning fast enough. Many are frankly closed to learning. The leaders of many ED organizations believe they already have all the answers, and they need to act and not learn. I think this needs to change: ED organizations must become more open and use constant learning as an edge to becoming more impactful.
  • ED leaders need to take stock of the ideas that underlie the organizations, programs, plans and strategies they create. Up until recently, economic developers have been obsessed with the notion of matter-based wealth; that is wealth associated with physical realities, such as real estate, manufactured products, physical location and proximity, etc. Senge is alerting us to the need to embrace the non-material realities of mind and spirit. Because of the heightened importance of human capital in economic development, we are beginning to move in this direction. We have much further to go along this path. Even many of our efforts to develop the knowledge economy and human capital resort to old-style matter-based reality principles and strategies. They don't work. We need new strategies that reflect human consciousness and the many other ideas suggsted by Peter Senge.

This is only a tip of the iceberg in exploring how Peter Senge's ideas could be applied to ED organizations. I will return to this issue again in the future.