Thursday, May 27, 2010
Strong Leadership for MCFD #2 / Part 202 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/
The importance of Good Leadership in British Columbia's Ministry of Children and Family Development – Part 2 of 2
I have led a national organization with distinct provincial district entities and I know about governance and structure, cooperation and outcomes. I have heard social workers speaking about reform to MCFD and decrying present practices and leadership. I fully expect someone to tell me that I don't know what I am talking about with respect to this organizational advice to MCFD. I have to try. I don't like puzzles. I have not got the patience to sit with all the pieces and fit them together. Besides, the MCFD is more complex because some of the pieces are missing in this Ministry claiming to be in transformation. Some MCFD staff lead me to the following conclusion.
It may be that one of those missing pieces is the wise use of staff ideas. MCFD will benefit if Victoria and the regions see the value of mobilizing staff, social workers, the whole MCFD community, toward creativity and initiative on behalf of the MCFD mission which is child safety and family health and development. The theory is that great ideas to improve service delivery exist among the people who are doing the work with children and families.
Victoria must also create a learning organization and nurture professional development of its staff. MCFD Victoria should then maximize reasonable rewards for outstanding work at every level as well as communicate clearly that some conduct will not be tolerated.
We pay a lot of money to provide leadership to our Ministry of Children. Social workers within the system will know whether this comment is apropos. In a Ministry like that which concerns children and families, we must have leadership that (1) makes it safe to tell the truth, that (2) supports a subordinate's professional growth, that (3) trusts a subordinate and is an enabler toward success. We need leadership at top positions that (4) assigns the missions but does not prescribe the means by which these should be accomplished. Social workers are wired and trained and gifted and they need to be released to dispense service to the best of their ability. We need leaders who (5) know how to build competence among their staff to assess situations with immense wisdom and then to take initiative to develop adaptive solutions. We need leaders who (6) mentor rather than intimidate.
Yesterday, I stressed truth telling. It is so easy to be so diplomatic, so politically correct that truth is soft around the edges. The essential reason for telling the truth in an organization like MCFD is to maintain trust up and down the chain of command. Truthfulness among leaders at every level of MCFD removes dishonorable incentives to look good at the expense of being good. The source of the power to command others is spirited self-respect, critical obedience, truth-telling and integrity. These have a profound emotional impact on the leader and those being led. Nothing destroys trust in the chain of command so quickly as a leader’s exploitation of institutional power to coerce a private gain from subordinates. The key is to use power in conjunction with what is true. Everyone watches the trustworthiness of those who handle power above them and this has enormous affect within the MCFD organization.