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Developing the Leadership

With the central importance of
maintaining the Management Perspective in mind, let’s shift our attention to
point “0” within the Helping Triangle. At this position, there are a
myriad of web-like connecting lines going out in all directions. We are
focusing here only on the six lines within the local Helping Triangle, starting
with the connection between points “0” and “A” – between
point “0” and potential clients.

At a minimum, this connection
passes along to potential clients information about the agency and its
services. It also passes along information from potential clients about their
needs and interests that may be served by the agency. The connection influences
potential clients to access agency services and influences the agency to adjust
its services to better fit with the needs and interests of potential clients.
The 0-A connection does much more but the simple point here is the connection
is definitely necessary. The agency cannot succeed without it.

There are two questions to ask
and answer for this and each of the other connections with point “0.”
If the connection is successful, what will the outcome be? We have to
know why we need the connection and how we know when it is working. If the
connection is not successful, what will the outcome be?
We have to know the
potential effect and cost of not establishing and maintaining the connection.
For the 0-A connection, not having it would likely mean the agency would not
have any clients in the future; and without clients…. I’m sure you can fill in
the missing details here. Clearly, not having the 0-A connection is

Turning focus to the 0-1
connection – point “0” with the Initiators – it is important to
understand initiation is not a one-time activity. Although the First Mover may
or may not continue his (or her) activities within the Helping Triangle, the
Initiators stay at least available even if not continuously active. The 0-1
connection keeps the Initiators current with agency activities, plans, resource
requirements, and effectiveness with clients. Moreover, the connection keeps
the agency current with the views and interests of the Initiators and their
constituents. We can likely think of other tasks only accomplished through this
connection; but the key point here is careful and continuing attention to the
0-1 connection is essential for long-term agency success. To neglect it is to
risk not having capacity external to the agency to initiate renewed support
from the authorizing entity and additional support from other authorizing

It is also worth noting in
passing there are always other Initiator groups within the greater environment
who are advocating for other agencies, other approaches, and alternative
strategies for responding to the needs, problems, and vulnerabilities of the
potential clients at point “A” on the local Helping Triangle. There
is competition for available resources, support, and authorization. If we ever
neglect the Initiators in the local Helping Triangle, it should come as no
surprise when we realize the agency in which we are interested no longer has
the authorization, auspices, support, and resources it needs to survive.

The 0-B connection – point
“0″ with the Authorizers – is similarly essential to the agency’s
continuing success. Through the Management Team, the agency assures compliance
with the requirements and expectations of the authorizing entity and reports on
its achievements, progress, and problems. Beyond this, a solid leadership
connection with the Authorizers themselves is essential. As with other
connections with point “0”, the 0-B connection is a person-to-person
connection. The Authorizers and the agency connect at a relationship,
face-to-face level, letting the Authorizers know they are respected and valued beyond
the fact they control potential agency resources and authorization. The 0-B
connection enables interaction at the interpersonal level and provides
opportunities for the agency and the Authorizers to develop trust, confidence,
and an understanding of each other’s sincerity.

An additional value here is
sooner or later something is going to go wrong on the agency side of the
relationship. When this happens – and it will – the agency can only draw on
accumulated good will and a solid relationship to weather the storm while the
issues get resolved. There are other reasons to assure a good 0-B connection;
but the reality is the agency simply cannot afford to neglect the connection.

Let me note in passing the
agency should be constantly scanning
for new or expanding opportunities to respond to the needs and interests of
potential clients, Initiators, and Authorizers. Through those interpersonal
connections, information and opportunities emerge to meet the needs and support
the interests of those stakeholders beyond what the agency is already doing.
Additionally, opportunities emerge to suggest services and activities with
which the agency could assist that may not have occurred to the stakeholders.
The connections are always two-way streets. Think of this scanning as opportunity
. It is a necessary element in any agency’s continuing success.

This also holds for the 0-2
connection. Implementers are people first and then they are Implementers. They
are responsible for assuring the requirements and expectations of the authorizing
entity are met, the agency is in compliance with external requirements and
expectations, and the agency successfully does what it is expected to do. These
responsibilities can and sometimes do have a rigid, authoritarian quality about
them and may be difficult to accept. Nonetheless, the people-to-people
connection must remain in the foreground of the interaction. The agency
sincerely wants the Implementers to succeed and always makes it as easy and
comfortable as possible for them to do what they have to do. Opportunity
seeking applies no less to Implementers than to others in the Helping Triangle.

The value of the 0-C connection
may be less clear. Does the agency connect with itself? It may seem like this
is what the 0-C connection is – the agency connecting with itself. It will help
to think about the agency as a service delivery entity. Point “C” is
where it takes care of its day-to-day responsibilities and provides services to
its clients. There, the Management Perspective is dominant. Concurrently, the
agency operates at point “0” where it assumes the Leadership
Perspective and pursues its leadership opportunities. The connection enables an
exchange where each perspective informs and influences the other. For example,
input coming through point “0” may prompt agency Management to make
adjustments and accommodations to improve the perceptions of potential clients,
Initiators, Authorizers, or Implementers or enable them to interact with the
agency more easily and comfortably. Conversely, input coming from the agency
through point “0” may help potential clients, Initiators,
Authorizers, and Implementers make changes or take actions increasing the
agency’s capacity to serve its clients or support the interests of its

The 0-3 connection – point
“0” with Providers – is the connection most frequently neglected.
This connection potentially provides Providers – the people actually providing
services for clients – connections with potential clients, Initiators,
Authorizers, and Implementers seldom available to them. At the same time, since
the connections are two-way, stakeholders have a much closer connection with
Providers than is otherwise the case. Further, the connections are
interpersonal and often face-to-face. An interesting effect of this is both
Providers and Stakeholders become people with names, personalities, and lives
outside of their narrow roles in each other’s perceptions.

The importance of the
Leadership Perspective from point “0” is likely now obvious. It
incorporates a very complex set of activities and interactions requiring a high
level of knowledge and expertise. As we conceptually add all of the myriad
connections beyond the local Helping Triangle, it is also clear competently and
successfully adopting the Leadership Perspective is a major commitment of time,
energy, and resources from the agency. For all but the smallest agencies, it is
not a one-person task. It requires a skilled team – the Leadership Team – committed to establishing and maintaining the
necessary connections at the convenience of the stakeholders and assuring those
connections serve the interests of both the agency and the stakeholders.

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