I watch the economic uncertainty of this time with great interest and perspective.

I watch as a parent.  My wife and I continue to provide support and direction for our children – faith, college tuition, food, compassion, shelter, etc.  Are the tangible opportunities the most significant; or is our faith, hope and inspiration more significant today, even though it may not emerge until much later?  I know the answer that I’d provide today.

Next, I am curious as a business owner and consultant to growing organizations.  I have seen clients move ahead with strategic initiatives they planned, and see others who have made a decision to delay the consulting until the economy has stabilized.  Even though I remain more hopeful than ever, I wonder what that means in my clients mind, and what indicators will provide the tipping point for their decision.

After that, I look through the lens for a local non-profit I serve, and wonder about the impact on budgets and services on those with so little.  The need is tremendous and the staff goes about their work with an incredible sense of compassion and commitment.  There will be those who need services who will be turned away.  It can’t be helped.

Today’s Approach

Organizations put models and mission statements together.  Leaders establish strategic plans and operating goals to provide the direction.  Human resource leaders adopt faster and more robust performance management solutions.  I have developed competency models and development systems to help clients develop talent and leadership pipelines.

Fast forward – will these initiaitves create legacy, support organizational intent, or just occupy time and space?  Will our efforts to support and lead build hope, inspiration and promise for people?  Are we even close to measuring the right thing?  In some cases yes, in many others, probably not.

We design and create with the best of intentions, but I think what people really need today is hope, inspiration and faith in others – especially leaders.  Whether at work, at home or at church, people are looking for something real and meaningful.  This doesn’t come from a new system, or the latest New York Times best seller does it?

I have often asked classes of leaders about those who have impacted them and organizational best practices.  Traits of character, strength, compassion and vision far outweigh any mention of policy.

Timely Example

This morning I heard the newscasters replaying highlights of Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama.  When explaining his choice, he didn’t speak about the standard elements of choice – taxes, budgets, foreign policy.  He highlighted Obama’s readiness, his approach and his vision.  Sounds like leadership to me.

Our Perspective

Our firm has been intentional about every aspect of our firm, especially the tagline – Developing Inspiring Leaders and Organizations.  Some admire us for the effort, some miss it’s significance and others share a puzzled look when reading itAll reactions lead us into a great conversation, and to me, that’s a step that takes us down a path towards the intent we hope for.

I believe that tools and processes are well and good, but they often detract from the real change agent – the leader.  That’s right.  When all is said and done, these tools and systems will change and lead to something else, but the one constant is the leader.  In most cases, organizations put a lot of money into these tools and systems needed to achieve their desired change.  I wonder why so much is put into working around the answer, having the leader lead.

Regardless of your organization, the leader and their developing character will trump any system, any day.  One way that our firm’s value proposition is different from others, is that we have not forgotten, and will do everything to emphasize the role of the leader, and only then support them with tools and systems.

Our clients want performance change and legacy.  This is the path.  Organizations much be led and managed.  Leaders must be inspirational; not in the stereotypical way, but by creating passion and momentum with others.  Leaders don’t just create followers, they develop and allow other leaders to emerge.