The Peopleassets Transformational Leadership Profile Report


Leaders of park and recreation organizations confront formidable challenges on multiple fronts. The current economic contraction will pressure many agencies to cut service levels and programs. Some agencies will be forced to make painful staff reductions. Funding sources are likely to become less reliable as districts and municipalities struggle to cover bare necessities. Park and recreation leaders will have a full plate of challenges to manage and numerous fires to fight.

Transformational leaders successfully mobilize personal and organizational resources to manage short term crises and, simultaneously, find time, energy and other resources to focus on solving problems that threaten the long term success of the organization.

Challenges that must be met in order to ensure success in the long term include positioning parks and recreation as an essential community service, securing predictable sources of funding, tracking evolving community priorities and shifting the program mix to meet those changing needs. Further challenges include forging collaborative partnerships to leverage resources, meeting conservation and sustainability goals and making sure that staff have the skills and competencies necessary to be successful in the face of extensive retirements.

These challenges will require leaders to be politically astute, influential, superior communicators, consensus builders, risk takers and effective conflict resolvers. Not surprisingly, most of these skills are not learned in a classroom. They are forged by the crucible of experience, stress and conflict.

The Peopleassets Transformational Leadership Profile Report will help park and recreation professionals learn more about the skills and competencies required for success. The Profile is constructed by comparing an individual’s responses to benchmarks established by leaders in over twenty five countries as well as ‘high performing’ park and recreation professionals. These norms are labeled in the graph, where the first bar, "private" represents the international leadership benchmark and the second bar, labeled "parks", represents successful leaders in the park and recreation profession. Narrative conclusions are drawn from patterns of an individual’s responses and by the degree of difference from these benchmarks.

The text of the Profile report identifies strengths of your particular leadership style and seeks to direct your attention to potential opportunities to improve your effectiveness. We quickly recognize and fully appreciate that many complex dynamics are at work in the expression of leadership behaviors. However, comparing your style to a profile established by high performing park and recreation professionals can help direct your attention toward critical improvement opportunities.

We urge you to approach this exercise as a special learning opportunity. Exploring your personal leadership style can contribute directly to your success and can be a lot of fun as well. Read this report with your curiosity at attention. Leave your defenses in the drawer. Some observations may surprise you. Fine! Let unexpected results serve as the starting point for inquiry. Where you disagree with conclusions drawn in the report, strive to clarify the issue by getting feedback from colleagues.

The Profile report is designed to be used in conjunction with other resources available to you. These include:


In any professional or leadership development activity, it makes sense to ask ‘leadership for what?’ As you develop more adaptive leadership skills, how do they benefit your organization? What organizational goals can you advance with stronger leadership competencies?

If you have responsibility for the success of others, think about how you can apply this leadership and professional development process to help your staff be successful. What are their strengths? What skills and competencies should they develop over the next year? ... the next two years? What leadership capabilities will your agency need to meet the numerous challenges to be encountered in the future? Who seems most qualified to succeed current leadership? The Peopleassets Leadership Profile and other available resources can help provide answers to these critically important questions.

Transformational Leadership: Orientation toward Challenge


Transformational leaders know that the strategic landscape is shifting in a way that leaders in particular private sector industries would recognize immediately. Makers of film-based cameras and record company executives understand that the ‘rules of the game’ can change quickly. The advent of digital photography and the explosion of on-line music purchases changed the basis for success in each of those business sectors. A shift of similar magnitude has arrived for park and recreation leaders. To quote a senior manager in one of the largest metro agencies, “Things are changing so rapidly it's amazing.”

Many people in the park and recreation profession enter the field motivated by their love of nature or their commitment to an active life style. Ambition and drive are pre-requisites for investment bankers, not for park and recreation professionals. As many in the field advance in their career, they are asked to assume supervisory, management and leadership roles. For those who do ascend near the top of their organization, their responsibilities evolve into areas that include politics, public relations, market analysis and joint ventures in a way that most never envisioned. Ascending the learning curve effectively and quickly will be essential to the success of future leaders.

Your attitude toward new challenges will influence the future path of your career and the future success of your organization. Do you find new challenges stimulating? Do they stir a sense of excitement and adventure or do they tend to make you anxious?

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# 50. I love to tackle problems that stretch my ability to the limit, ...sometimes even beyond my limits.
#66. I don't get a real sense of fulfillment from a job unless there is a “steady diet” of new challenges to tackle.

You clearly thrive on new challenges. Many park and recreation professionals savor the excitement of learning new skills in order to manage novel situations successfully. People who share this characteristic are typically quick learners and love the stimulation of acquiring new knowledge. Enthusiasm for tackling unfamiliar challenges will energize your leadership style.

You appear to be a ready and willing risk-taker. Be sure to determine what kind of analysis and consideration are warranted prior to taking on new challenges.

You tend to make decisions quickly. The more you have at stake, the greater the need for measured consideration of the potential consequences in case things proceed in unexpected ways.


Transformational Leadership: Goal Clarity / Measuring Results


Goal Clarity

Transformational leaders understand something very important about success. They know that fire fighting can consume the entire work day. They also know that fire fighting, while necessary, will not ensure long term success. Immediate crises demand the attention and problem solving resources of every organization. However, long term challenges lurk in the shadows. If these challenges are not addressed effectively, the prospects for future success grow dim. Ask General Motors and Chrysler about that problem.

For park and recreation leaders, many such challenges await them. Funding represents such an issue for most agencies. Vigorous support in the political domain is another. Do governmental decision makers regard parks and recreation as an essential community service or a “nice to have” benefit. Who gets served first at the table when budget ‘servings’ are dished out?

Transformational leaders mobilize the resources necessary to extinguish the fires that demand immediate attention. Then they make sure that the problems that threaten the long term health of the organization get addressed as well. This critical leadership competency requires a sophisticated ability to direct a sustained focus on issues like succession planning and building alliances in the community to create advocates for the parks mission.

Research has consistently demonstrated that clearly defined goals provide coherent direction to behavior and actually create incentives for achievement. Park and recreation leaders frequently have programmatic and budgetary goals reasonably well defined. Goals related to public relations, building coalitions and influencing key stakeholders may be equally important, or more so, but tend to be much less clearly defined.

Prioritizing goals clearly is essential for preventing confusion among staff. Tracking progress toward goal achievement can be critically important as well in order to identify areas where close attention is required to overcome obstacles that threaten progress. A well-focused and systematic approach to the definition and communication of goals represents the foundation for an effective problem solving process.

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# 35. In defining goals, I make sure there is a specific measurable outcome to use as a criterion for assessing my / our progress.
# 87. I like to consult with others before committing myself to doing something.

You demonstrate consistent attention to the identification of goals. You are fairly systematic about defining tangible goals, recognizing that well-focused efforts yields better results. When colleagues are clear about what needs to be accomplished, the prospect of achieving goals improves significantly. Hopefully, this kind of attention is directed at long term, as well as short term goals.

People differ with regard to how much detail they require to map out a problem solving plan. Hopefully, you have a clear picture of who needs how much help with regard to constructing the plan for goal achievement. Collecting feedback from staff regarding their perceptions of progress and their experience with obstacles will help you know who needs support. First make sure that the goals are clearly articulated and that priorities are well understood.

You recognize the value in identifying specific, behavioral outcomes that signify goal achievement. Different people often hold widely varying interpretations of the form that goal achievement can actually take. When you specify the observable form of achievement you expect from the outset, everyone works from the same page.

You have strong confidence in your ability to express yourself. Presumably this confidence extends to the articulation of clear and specific goals to your colleagues. Validate this observation by confirming that people understand what you think they understand with regard to workgroup and individual goals.

You have strong confidence in your ability to express yourself in writing. This important skill should hopefully extend to the articulation and communication of goals, both short and long term.

Consider the following qualities when clarifying goals:

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# 15. I systematically collect feedback from peers and my superiors to gauge how I'm doing.
# 71. I pride myself on my attention to "follow-through."

Results Orientation

Gauging results for park and recreation organizations can be a challenging task. Many of the beneficial outcomes associated with the use of park facilities and recreation programming can be difficult to pin down. However, high performance park and recreation leaders need to employ solid measures of progress for several reasons. First, they need to be ready to speak to the issue of results persuasively in order to make a compelling case for support of their mission. Future funding streams may rely upon clear evidence you’re your department has accomplished specific outcomes. Staff also appreciate a strong case for the importance of their work. It builds morale and helps energize them for taking on future goals. A strong results orientation is an essential leadership skill.

Individuals throughout the organization can and should be involved in the process of discussing the meaning of data collected in the effort to gauge results. This can and typically is an important developmental experience. Evaluation and assessment should always be balanced with a commitment to organizational learning and continuous improvement. These insights should be applied to progress achieved toward both short and long term goals.

You seem to be reasonably systematic about measuring results. By doing so, you create a structure in which colleagues know when they make progress and where they need to focus in order to improve. Your attention to results hopefully pays benefits in the effort to ‘make a compelling case for parks’ to various community constituents. When you help people outside your organization realize the benefits derived from park and open space assets, you are building an advocacy community where mutual support can pay off for everyone.

Your focus on results is fortified by your persistent attention to follow through. This tactic will pay dividends for you. Does this apply to long term goal targets as well?

Your commitment to the evaluation of outcomes could be strengthened by a more systematic approach to the collection of feedback from colleagues to help you understand the impact of your own performance.


Transformational Leadership
      Decisiveness, Communication and Independence


Park and recreation leaders make decisions every day that have a significant impact on the future of the organization. In some instances, those decisions are made with the benefit of careful analysis and considered reflection. At other times, decisions are made on the spot. Managers have very different styles with regard to how they make decisions. Some people hate to make decisions without a detailed analysis of the situation. Other people are much more intuitive. They typically make decisions on the basis of what feels right. What’s your decision making style and how does it impact your organization?

Communication is among the most frequently mentioned “essential” leadership competencies. Leaders communicate everything from strategic priorities to everyday developments and do it with widely varying styles. Written and oral communication competencies are both extremely important. Effective listening, however, may be the most important communication skill of all. Be sure that you are aware of your communication strengths and potential shortcomings.

Additionally, leaders demonstrate considerable differences with regard to how much they are inclined to consult with others vs. depend on their own personal resources and judgment. Different situations obviously call for different tactics. The trick is to know when to rely on in which tactic. Understanding your tendencies in these important areas of leadership skill will help you be more effective in your current role as well as in future positions.

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Decisiveness

Park and recreation professionals make important decisions every day. Some people are very intuitive about making decisions and tend to rely on their "gut feel" to determine which direction to go. Others are much more methodical. The latter prefer to analyze all the relevant issues and consider the implications of the decision before committing resources. What decision making style are you most likely to use?

You demonstrate a strong bias for action. You appreciate that someone has to make the decision, assume responsibility and get things moving. Make sure however, that when you do have adequate time to decide, that you complete the necessary groundwork and consult the appropriate people.

The care with which you analyze problems seems to vary. Hopefully you have explicit criteria for determining when a decision requires serious reflection and when it doesn’t. While some people handle this challenge intuitively, it makes sense to develop some explicit guidelines to flag situations that require in-depth analysis.

Communications

Effective communication is an essential skill for park and recreation leaders. Developing strong connections to colleagues and working collaboratively with partners requires highly developed communication skills. Be sure that you understand where and how you communicate well and where your communication needs improvement. Getting direct feedback is often the best way to accomplish that.

You have reservations about the strength of your communication skills. In some regard, everyone on the planet can improve some aspect of their communications. You seem prepared to acknowledge that fact. Let’s see where you need to focus your attention.

Your verbal expression skills are apparently highly developed.

Your written expression skills seem to be strong..

Your ability to listen could be significantly improved. This should rate high as a priority. Consult colleagues to confirm this conclusion and identify the specific areas to improve.

Independence in the Problem Solving Context

Some managers are committed to collaboration, whereas others prefer to plan and act alone when possible. Individuals who tend to prefer working alone are regarded as relatively independent. This style can work well or get people into trouble. People who prefer the collaborative process will tend to score lower on this scale, an attribute that may well be adaptive, particularly in organizations that value consensus. Colleague feedback can clarify how your style is perceived.

Park and recreation leaders need to collaborate constantly. However, many decisions have to be made without the benefit of a group process to explore the issues. There are also times when individuals have to ‘make a call’ and get on with it. Knowing when to pursue which tactic can be an essential ingredient in leadership success.

You demonstrate a clear preference for relying on your own resources in the process of planning and problem solving. The advantage of this approach is that you do not require group support or step by step directions in order to make decisions involving critical issues. The potential problem associated with your style is a predisposition to bypass the opportunity to consult with others which may, in turn, yield better decisions.

Apparently, you are, at times, inclined to forego consultation with colleagues. You may be motivated to do so by time constraints or conceivably, by lack of confidence in what your associates can offer. There are risks related to this approach. When things don’t go according to plan and you need support, you might end up feeling very lonely.


Transformational Leadership
     Power, Influence and Initiative


Power, Influence and Initiative

When asked about his toughest challenges, one park and recreation director said "my job is to manage change". The bigger the problem, the more leaders are called upon to cajole, persuade, convince and influence others in order to forge a successful solution. Transformational leaders will be expected to exercise strong powers of persuasion to shape the opinions and behavior of colleagues, customers, public officials, partners and the public.

Some leaders relish the opportunity to shape minds and influence behavior. Others prefer that someone else assume responsibility for that task. In the Peopleassets framework, the desire or motivation to assume positions of authority and influence is captured in the dimension called "power". Individuals who aspire to leadership roles often demonstrate a strong desire for power.

Some park and recreation leaders may not exude strong ambitions but are, nevertheless highly influential. They are persuasive and convincing managers. Other may not rank high on the list of 'movers and shakers' but nevertheless take initiative consistently, day in and day out to get things done. All three dimensions, power, influence and initiative play critically important functions for leaders in the world of park and recreation management.

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Power

You demonstrate a real passion for shaping the direction of organizational plans and activity. You have a strong sense of personal drive and seek to make your presence known. For many, this is a critically important leadership attribute.

Your personal drive is fueled by a strong competitive spirit that focuses vigorous energy on the achievement of goals.

Occasionally, people who are highly motivated to shape outcomes have difficulty listening to input or feedback. This may be an issue for you. Recognize that the best park and recreation professionals tailor their tactics to the specific needs of different situations. There is no way to understand those specific needs unless you are skilled at listening to how your colleagues think about different situations.

Influence

Transformational leaders demonstrate the ability to shape the minds and behavior of others. Park and recreation professionals often need to persuade or motivate colleagues in the effort to position their agency as an essential community asset. Influencing skills are also essential where collaboration and partnerships play a critical role in accomplishing organizational goals. High performing leaders need to apply highly developed influence skills in many different arenas.

You have a solid level of confidence in your influencing skills. Park and recreation professionals with the proven ability to influence others are frequently successful because they are able get colleagues to go beyond their current skill set and accomplish goals that may initially seem intimidating. You demonstrate a solid ability in this important aspect of leadership.

Wielding well developed influence skills and knowing where and how to apply them do not always go together. Your ability to ‘tune into’ the needs of your colleagues is suspect. To ensure that your influence tactics are precisely tailored you should collect direct feedback from colleagues to determine how successfully you apply your influence.

Initiative

Planning and goal setting create critical blueprints for action, but initiative translates those plans into goal directed behavior. Taking initiative yourself incites action on the part of others. Transformational leaders model positive problem solving techniques by taking initiative to improve work processes designed to achieve priority organizational goals.

You clearly understand the importance of creating a positive model for taking action in order to advance critical project plans. Making sure others are “in synch” with your priorities can be essential to your success. How confident are you that others are ready and able to support your efforts?

Are you confident that you can count on help from colleagues? You seem to harbor some doubts about the value of mobilizing support from others who can contribute to the effort. Investing time to make sure others are ‘on board’ can be a wise move.


Transformational Leadership
      Teamwork, Delegation, Conflict Resolution Style


Teamwork, Delegation and Conflict Resolution Style

Transformational leaders are highly effective at mobilizing the energy of colleagues to achieve common goals. Park and recreation managers constantly function in situations where teambuilding is a critical factor for successful performance. Building teams has always been important. Increasingly, building teams outside the organization will become an essential skill, as alliances and coalitions play a crucial role in meeting customer expectations.

Transformational leaders in the park profession know that they can’t do it all by themselves. Distributing responsibility to others is a necessary and important skill, both for goal achievement and empowering staff. Delegation however is as much of an art as it is science. Astute managers know who, among the staff, is ready for what kind of assignment. Managing the delegation process requires keen insight, incisive judgment and adaptability.

In any organization facing high expectations for service delivery and resource constraints, conflicts arise. In settings where diversity and user expectations are high, resolving conflicts can be very challenging. Are conflicts addressed directly or do they tend to be avoided, in hopes that they will disappear? Putting issues ‘on the table’ is necessary. Doing it positively and constructively is essential for the successful resolution of differences.

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Teamwork

You seem to be seriously skeptical about the value of team efforts. You may be wary of the time and energy required to get teams ‘up to speed’ on a specific plan. You likely prefer to rely on your own resources to solve problems. In some cases, an individual can get more accomplished on his or her own. However, in the challenging environment that park and recreation professionals find themselves, achieving organizational goals often requires acting collaboratively with others both inside and outside your organization. You should collect feedback from colleagues to determine if they expect you to do more with regard to team building.

You demonstrate a willingness to take initiative. Do you employ that attribute in the service of teambuilding? You may believe that more progress can be made with individual action than taking the time to launch a team effort. Appreciate however that in the complex world so often characterized by resource limitations, building coalitions both within and outside the organization is likely critical to your success.

Your skepticism about team initiatives leads you to doubt, at least at times, the value of involving colleagues early in the planning process. Time and trouble invested up front may well save you from big headaches down the road.

Delegation


You clearly prefer to stay close to the action in order to ensure that workgroup outcomes meet your expectations. People who maintain a strong sense of personal identification with the group output are often valued because they maintain high standards of quality. Individuals with this predilection are likely to have some difficulty handing off responsibility. You seem to fit this description. This tradeoff works in some organizational settings and can create problems in others. Determining how your style fits with your organizational needs is something that should be reviewed with colleagues.

You seem able and willing to let others experience, and even suffer the consequences of their own decisions. This can be an excellent learning process, as long as those consequences are not too severe. Be sure that the folks to whom you delegate have the necessary resources available to succeed. Then be sure to discuss the experience with them to ensure that they learned the lessons necessary for you to trust them with further responsibility.

Conflict Resolution Style


You have a very direct style of dealing with conflicts. The advantage of this approach is clear. Unresolved conflicts will not linger or remain ‘under the radar’, only to create problems of various kinds down the road. Individuals with this style occasionally come across as confrontational or intimidating especially to others who have difficulty speaking directly about conflicts.

Apparently you invest little time or energy in worrying about how people feel about issues. Managers and supervisors can, in fact, waste time playing the role of counselor to every employee whose feelings get hurt. However, respecting emotional realities in the process of resolving differences is a worthy goal. To respect those emotional realities, you may have to spend more time listening to different perspectives. Consult the points below to increase the chance that your conflict resolution tactics will be successful.

Consider the following in creating a positive structure for resolving conflict.

1. Do not suggest that serious conflicts be "hashed out" without a structured process to resolve differences. Unstructured sessions designed to let it "all hang out" can turn into a free for all, especially where feelings run high. Find a skilled facilitator to help.

2. Make sure that all parties really want to achieve a solution. If one party lacks the motivation to resolve the conflict, chances are good that progress will be slow, painstaking or non-existent.

3. Emphasize COMMON INTERESTS. In most cases, both parties have a stake in producing positive outcomes, some of which they likely share.

4. Discourage blaming behavior and scapegoating. Encourage parties to consider what behavior of theirs has contributed to the conflict.

5. Encourage parties to be candid and diplomatic. Brutal verbal assaults do not help the process of resolving conflicts.

6. Encourage parties to move beyond global negative characterizations and describe specific behaviors that are problematic.

7. Encourage parties to articulate how they interpret the other person’s behavior. Frequently, someone’s interpretation does not match up with the other party’s intentions.

8. Encourage the parties to stay in the present. Dredging up ancient history rarely helps in making progress.

9. Explore several different options as part of a resolution. Avoid having to choose one party’s solution OR the other. Try to incorporate suggestions from both sides in recommending a path forward. Give everyone something they want.

10. Get each party to make an explicit verbal statement that they will positively support the proposed solution.

11. Provide for follow up. Commit to re-visiting the issue to check on progress. In the mean time, catch both parties trying to work toward a constructive solution and compliment their effort.

The Plan Going Forward

Leadership development programs often fail to deliver tangible results. There are several contributing factors to this unfortunate reality. They include the following:
1. Participants in the program do not translate their experience into specific professional development goals that contain observable outcomes.
2. Colleagues of the participant are not engaged in any way to support efforts to develop new behaviors.
3. The organizational culture may resist efforts to introduce innovative behaviors.
4. There is little or no follow up.
5. Organizations rarely celebrate efforts to introduce innovative problem solving methodologies with explicit gestures to recognize individuals involved in the learning process.

With regard to professional and leadership development initiatives, people frequently pose a serious question: “Can people really change?” Character and personality are relatively stable. Behavior however is another thing. People change behaviors regularly, if not easily. New behaviors are much more likely to take hold if there is support from the organization. Such support comes in many forms including explicit offers of help and recognition of attempts to implement new ways of doing things.

Transformational leaders get very serious about developing new skills themselves and engage their staff in a similar endeavor. Here’s how to make that happen. First, translate assessment findings into specific goals. The goals should clearly state what you intend to accomplish with regard to new behavior or changes in the problem solving process. You are encouraged to document these goals in the “Development Planning” section of the Professional Development menu at www.peopleassets.net

Goal outcomes should be stated in observable, behavioral terms. Stating that I will become “a better team player” would likely win universal approval, but what exactly does that mean? Will the individual communicate goals more clearly and consistently? Consult with others before making a decision? Ask colleagues if they need support or help with a project task? Each specific behavior could contribute to better teamwork. Goals should be stated specifically with regard to a behavioral outcome.

Goals also need to be aligned with top organizational priorities. Your personal development goals should have a direct link to support of high priority organizational goals.

Professional development goals should be shared with your supervisor or manager. Schedule a discussion to explore tactics for goal achievement and request resources and support needed to achieve the goal. Goals should also be shared publicly. It helps to know when someone is working on a particular goal or objective. Colleagues can provide support in various ways. Follow up is critical. What happened? Why? Why not? Recognition is also an essential component of an effective professional development initiative. Worthy efforts that fall short of a goal are deserving of recognition, as are goals that are achieved.

Peopleassets has on-line resources to support individuals eager learn more effective leadership skills and competencies. Contact us with any questions about the following:
360° Colleague Feedback System: collect systematic feedback from colleagues on 12 dimensions of your leadership style. Feedback distinguishes between the person’s style and effectiveness. For example, a manager could be rated as “highly decisive” and that style could be rated as either very effective or, if the person constantly shoots from the hip, ineffective. This process helps validate your self-assessment profile results.
The Peopleassets Team Culture Profile collects inputs from a number of people in your workgroup or organization on important dimensions like planning effectiveness, goal clarity, teamwork, innovation, morale and conflict resolution success.
Professional Development Planning System: define specific development goals. What can you work on improving? Spell these goals out in the “development planning” section of our site.
Identify the resources needed to help you make progress toward these goals. Find a mentor to help guide and support you.
Document new behaviors you adopted as a means of achieving your development goals.

Peopleassets also has a Leadership Coaching program. We provide confidential, expert advice about how to be successful on the job and how to advance your career. Contact us at 415.229.3170 or via rth@att.net to inquire about this program.

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