Nationally recognized leadership consultant Frances Hesselbein challenged Maneuver Center of Excellence senior leaders from Forts Benning and Knox, Ky., Thursday to adhere to four key guidelines as they join forces in the coming months: leave behind irrelevant policies, develop leaders of change at all levels, build strong alliances and provide equal access.
“Today … the great challenge is leading change,” Hesselbein said. “This is a shared leadership imperative for all of us because we are on a journey to transformation, and our fellow travelers are those we serve, those we serve with and all of those who wait to be served.”
Hesselbein, who was the chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. for nearly 15 years and in 1998 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, addressed the senior leadership team during an offsite meeting at the Columbus Trade and Convention Center. She is currently the chairwoman of the Board of Governors of the Leader to Leader Institute, formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management.In line with the event’s theme, “Leading through Change,” Hesselbein said leaders must have the courage to practice “planned abandonment,” a term she borrowed from Drucker, also known for his leadership counsel.
“There is no time to negotiate with nostalgia for outmoded, irrelevant policies and practices and procedures and assumptions,” she said.Instead, she encouraged the group to challenge the gospel of the status quo and to abandon a hierarchical mindset.
“Dispersed leadership is the leadership of the future,” Hesselbein said. “It’s not a leader … but many leaders dispersing the responsibilities of leadership across the organization.”
Additionally, she told the group to align themselves wisely and encourage diversity while always placing the mission first.
“Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do,” Hesselbein said. “And if we are to succeed as leaders, we will manage for the mission, manage for innovation, manage for diversity …”
With the world depending on the Army to “sustain democracy,” she said, the success of this transformation is critical.
“For we know in the end,” Hesselbein said, “it’s the quality and character of a leader that determines the performance (and) the results.”