I decided to name my “encore” career coaching & consultation business Leaders 4 Futures (L4F) because it says everything I would want to about what my focus will be.
So, what’s in a name? as Shakespeare would say:
Many current managers in nonprofit organizations have yet to develop the leadership skills that are fundamental for senior and executive leadership positions in the nonprofit sector. Management is an important skill, but without leadership, organizations can function smoothly but have little vision of a future or are not strategic in looking outwards vs. just managing inwards. So, leaders are needed, especially now, as more CEOs and other senior and executive leaders are moving into retirement like myself. I want to focus my “encore career” on helping the next generation of leaders to move successfully into senior and executive leadership positions including the CEO position which I have served in for 15 years in two great nonprofits.
Why do I use the number “4”? Well, I think it is a way of being cute like shorthand in texting, but it means more than that. I am certified as a Social Style facilitator by the Tracom Corporation (You can Google https://www.tracomcorp.com for more information) that developed the Social Style approach. Social Style is a leadership behavioral inventory. It has been used around the world and there is significant research to demonstrate its effectiveness. The most significant of these was a study by Colorado State University that found Social Style to be a more effective leadership assessment than either the DiSC analysis or Meyers-Briggs (MBTI) in helping people to improve their working relationships with others. Social Style is also very well-aligned with Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence. It is a behavioral approach that focuses on observable behaviors rather than a personality inventory like the MBTI. There is value in all of these assessments, and I would add the LPI (Leadership Practices Inventory) developed by Kouzes connected to his landmark leadership book “The Leadership Challenge” and the Strengths Finder 2.0 which was developed out of the work of the Gallup Organization. While these last two and to some extent the DiSC provide tools to use your assessment to become a more effective leader, Social Style also assesses one’s versatility in working with others who have different social styles. One can learn to be more versatile whereas Social Style, MBTI, the LPI and Strengths Finder tend to capture less changeable aspects of one’s natural tendencies. I have taken the MBTI and Strengths Finder more than once and have seen slight changes but with Social Style, one can get stronger in the other 3 Social Styles but 1 Social Style typically remains one’s dominant and most natural. There are 4 Social Styles called: Driving, Analytical, Amiable and Expressive. They are determined by how much one tends to be controlled or emotes and how one tends to either tell or ask. There is no style that is better than any other and there have been great leaders in all 4 styles. There is much more to each, but I will not discuss these further in this blog except to explain that this is another reason I chose to use “4” in my business name and not “for”.
I chose “Futures” as the last word in the name of my business because I want to help to prepare the next generation of leaders to become senior and executive leaders in the nonprofit sector. I just completed a very gratifying process of coaching and preparing my Chief Program Officer to become my successor and after a national search, the Board of Directors selected her. This was very reinforcing of both the potential of coaching and also what I have to offer to other nonprofit leaders who aspire to move into senior and executive leadership positions. Nonprofit organizations can do a better job of succession planning, not just for the CEO position but also other executive/senior leadership positions in their organizations. This requires nonprofits to look to and plan for the future rather than just react when the future arrives. I also chose the plural of “futures” because we cannot predict the future. I remember years ago participating in an intense and difficult process called “scenario planning” in which we attempted in small groups as leaders in the nonprofit sector to come up with 4 (there’s that number again) scenarios around a particular trend for nonprofits from the worst case to the best case scenarios and two other in-between scenarios and then write headlines as if they came true. Therefore, there is more than one possible future that will play out for the nonprofit sector and for each organization, thus the use of “futures”. Good leaders are alert to the future and attempt to position their organizations to be a “ahead of the curve” vs. “late to the game”.
So, I hope this blog that explains my choice of a business name has been helpful to you and that it has given you a glimpse into who I am as a leader and executive coach and what some of my beliefs and values are. After all, as leaders often the first best step one can take is to know thyself which includes one’s values and beliefs as well as one’s unique talents she/he brings to leadership.