Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Leadership

One of the perpetual issues in the system is that of leadership development and the good friend who scolds me behind the scenes when I go long between posts has this issue often on his mind.  So, good friend, here is a post in which we can discuss leadership.  

Leadership is one of those things we mostly all yearn for but, like other nearly-universal human hungers, we may disagree on what kind of monkey we want to be satisfied by.  In a system in which power, control and sovereignty are the largest common currency, leadership generally may even be dangerous.  I suspect some would say we don't produce enough leaders to meet demand and Tom Pomerantz' touring schedule supports that position.  Others argue that we are producing plenty of leaders in the form of plain-spoken clients and uncomfortably empowered family members (cf. Stanley) but that these leaders are A) Too locally focused and personally interested to lead in harmony; B) Not listened to; and/or C) adorable but hardly authoritative.

If you all are waiting for me to say something smart about leadership, that had also been my hope but I think I'd best turn the floor over.  Here are some questions:

1.  Do we need more leaders?
2.  Can we develop leaders without indoctrinating them?  And if not is it leadership we're developing?
3.  Do you agree with Voltaire who is often quoted saying he would rather obey one lion than 200 rats?
4.  If herding cats is the paragon of leadership in chaos, what is being herded by a herd of cats the paragon of?

20 comments:

Ariel the Thief said...

I agree with Voltaire.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank Doug for placing this issue on the blog. Leadership has the real potential to cause good things in our system and in people's lives. For years in the education system there were system wide grants to help local educational agencies learn to support people with disabilities in inclusive classrooms and schools. For the most part, this effort failed. Why- simply: it never took into the account the importance of one principal in one school who could really make change; the downside is when the principal left little was left; the same is true in adult services. When my friend Jay Klein left Colorado, the organization that he helped transform declined - it didn't take a nose dive, but over time it just spiraled downward. i am convinced that if we do not cultivate leaders - families, consumers, providers, policy makers, etc. we will never have the system that we want to see happen. there are no efforts that i am aware of in california helping new leaders to evolve their styles of leadership;
jeff

Doug said...

Ariel, I thought you might.

Jeff, I think it depends on what definition of leadership you use and what constitutes development. I would contend that CDCAN, by focusing on the engagement and education of people across the state is a leadership development program. One of the challenges to very focused leadership development programs is that those tend to be top-down programs with curricula and leaders tend to be insurgents and malcontents. If Jeff Empowers The Community, Regionally, Artistically Socially, Holistically, Inc. begins a leadership development program to identify and train the next generation of leaders, I suspect you'll get the avid fascination of potential caretakers while the leaders at your agency are in the parking lot smoking and mocking the whole affair. Of course, I might be inclined to agree with someone who suggested we need more well-trained caretakers in senior management and fewer leaders.

stanley said...

[anon say] if we do not cultivate leaders

[doug ask] Can we develop leaders without indoctrinating them? And if not is it leadership we're developing?

At what leadership level is the focus...ie, well-trained caretakers (supervisiors), leaders (directors)...both are critical and desired attributes overlap...but may help discussion to distinguish thoughts on how to cultivate.

following comments relate to agency, department, parent/advocacy organization, directors

how do we (can we) cultivate, indoctrinate, leaders...how do we cultivate a director...certainly not by sucking up (good job brownie)...w/o constructive criticism we only get more of the same...the status quo...eg,

Belshe also praised Cliff Allenby, former director of the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) for his service there http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DDRIGHTS/message/2275

Praise for Allenby? Now he probably is a nice man, good smoozer, etc...butbut what were a few of his accomplishments...the deplorable conditions pointed out in 1998 by SFChron and HCFA were again described in 2006 Broken Homes articles...and they did exist then and they still exits now...1998-2006 conditions were on Allenby’s watch.

perhaps by calling leaders on their lack of positive outcomes...vice sucking up...honest evaluation of results might cultivate or improve leadership, if not develop a RFK or MLK.

BTW there are leaders who should be eliminated...those who play the game without any guilt...just enjoy the game w/o any compassion for those with special needs.

stanley seigler

stanley said...

BTW, btw...re cultivating leaders...

[Anon say, re quality] "the professional ED these days, spends their time looking for money, raising money, reducing expenses... and once in a blue moon...actually passes by a consumer with disabilities they once knew”

who cultivated (maybe appropriate) the above...who cultivated gaming the system...

[anon say] "Leadership has the real potential to cause good things in our system and in people's lives"

w/o results, change, oriented leadership people are condemned to the unacceptable status quo...

stanley seigler

Doug said...

Stanley, I prefer that this blog isn't about people. I think Allenby was excited about making change in 2003 and being a more activist department but your comment actually illustrates what I meant by caretaker, not supervisor but someone in the executive position who takes as their function preserving the current state of the agency as opposed to a leadership who makes changes for better or worse. By the way, I subscribe to the theory that the best served clients can't be recognized by the executive director.

stanley said...

[doug say] I prefer that this blog isn't about people

will comply...but who do we hold accountable for positive outcomes...the system or people...who do we cultivate for leadership...the system vice people...

not sure I know or understand what Allenby was excited about...perhaps, if so inclined, you can explain off blog (issjr@aol.com)

agree with Eleanor Roosevelt: "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people"...butbutt;

see public figures equivalent to ideas and events...ie, should we not discuss pro/cons of current presidential candidates...or DDS directors.

BTW I hate to criticize DDS people as they interceded for my daughter in a RC fair hearing...but

DDS has NOT enforced Lanterman over the decades for all...who is accountable: THE SYSTEM or people...

seems over the decades people (leaders) are an elephant in the bathtub...

stanley seigler

paul said...

Do we need more leaders?

Is there a hill, a belief that it needs to be climbed, no ascent or plan in progress? If so, then that lonely hill begs for a leader. no?

Therefore, if we find a lonely hill we find the need for a leader?

“I would contend that CDCAN, by focusing on the engagement and education of people across the state is a leadership development program.”

I have not problem with your contention, but are the type of leaders that CDCAN produces the type that is absent?

The leaders coming out of CDCAN will lead us to SACRAMENTO, and help us point our fingers at the legislature, DDS, and the Governor. They will lead us in our requrest for “more funding”

“The problem isn't the lack of good alternatives or solutions - or the fact that the State (including the Legislature) simply needs to be "educated" on the issues. It underscores that what is lacking is not a better proverbial mousetrap - but the political will.”
CDCAN

I would submit that CDCAN hill IS NOT the hill that is discussed on this Blog. A perfect “proverbial mousetrap” does not have serious problems assessing quality and accountability in the levels opined by this blog. The CDCAN hill might indeed need a leader, perhaps many [which I assert it has] because of the sysiphian nature of the money hill, but I do not think that the MONEY/SACRAMENTO fight is in WANT of leaders.

I would now defer to Stanley's question, and submit that our vacuum lies leaders from the RC level down, and most critically at the provider level. There seems to be plenty wandering around chanting “Imhotep” [that is Latin for MONEY], but few on the provider level that seem even be able to recognize a bad situation when they see it.

About 7 years ago I was involved in an investigation involving the abuse of a dependant adult. The FACT that abuse occurred was NOT in question, and therefore not critical part of my anecdote.

Staff B, the witness to the incident, was a mandated reporter and DID NOT report.

The Director of the program, WAS a mandated reporter, and DID NOT report the incident once the message was delivered by Staff B.

The Human Resource person circulated a memo informing ALL staff to NOT discuss the incident to ANYONE (a conflict with the duty to report under the law), and that the incident was being investigated "INTERNALLY."

ANYWAY – you get my point. If providers do not have the types of leaders that understand their duties, they certainly DO NOT know how to promote a safe and effective programs for people with disabilities.

The Regional Center, once it discovered the incident through the IPP meeting, filed a report with Adult Protective Service. This process revealed the failure to report by the staff person and the Director of the provider.

Regardless, there were no consequences, and life went on as usual. Another failure of leadership.

What is being herded by a herd of cats the paragon of?

A fine zebra dinner

Doug said...

Stan, it's absolutely appropriate to hold people accountable. On this site, I prefer to talk about what will help the system better serve the end users and I've noticed once the topic turns to people, it's hard to get back to any other subject.

Paul, every advocacy group, gripe, association, coalition, collaboration, network, nabobbery, affiliation, salutation, mob, blog and dog goes to Sacramento, points fingers and frets about money. That's why I started this site in the first place, it drives me bug-eating crazy. And I hear you on the internal investigation of abuse. Too often what passes for leadership is a preference for shade.

Doug said...

I feel I should add, though, that CDCAN has been more focussed on rights than money in my opinion which I prefer.

stanley said...

[doug say] I've noticed once the topic turns to people, it's hard to get back to any other subject.

OK, agree...but you eliminate opines from people w/ small minds and there are a lot of us out here/there...ie, i may not have much to say.

stanley seigler

Doug said...

Nonsense, Stanley. I just prefer my pettiness grand in scale.

paul said...

“I feel I should add, though, that CDCAN has been more focussed on rights than money in my opinion which I prefer.”

I agree, and I would add that CDCAN is a fine junction of communication, that brings much needed information to some consumers and advocates through objective reportage.

While CDCAN may place its focus upon “rights” rather than “money”, my preference as well, CDCAN focuses its advocacy on the state level, and little is focused below that demarcation line.

So – We have leadership that focuses upon “rights” and leads us through N street. The void in leadership is not here

The void is in the realm of a focus on “rights” from the Regional Center on down.

How many pages of the Lanterman Act are dedicated to Regional Centers and below? How many pages are dedicated DDS?

Why does the smaller slice of the Lanterman Pie (Sacramento et al) have a “leadership development program” in CDCAN, but the largest piece of the Lanterman Pie (Regional Centers, their board of managers, providers..et al) has virtually no leaders representing the consumers, and their “rights”?

The fact the we do not is very telling. Are we willing to listen?

Doug said...

Paul, that was a great point about the lack of of leadership at the local level. I'm following you now. Incidentally, I think you also solved my riddle. What is being herded by a herd of cats the paragon for? Regional Center boards.

Doug said...

By the way, I'm reading the DDS report on controlling regional center costs. Expect several upcoming posts on topics taken from that report.

paul said...

By the way, I'm reading the DDS report on controlling regional center costs. Expect several upcoming posts on topics taken from that report.

Oh boy..

Well – I cannot say I wait with excitement. It seems that each year advocates wait with breath abated for Spring time, and the excitement of the budget battle.

While there is a tone of angst [the sky is falling] it serves more as much of a fascade to cover the excitement associated the most fertile season in advocacy.

Like the peacock in spring it is a chance for a fecund display of “advocacy”. Like shooting fish in a barrel we can yell, scream, and point at the intangible “politician” that has no heart, and simultaneoulsly display to the world how our hearts are bursting at the seams.

ALL*Our woes exists simply because Sacramento lacks the “political will”, for our “proverbial mousetrap” is perfect and if Sacramto simply had the “political will” all would be peaches and cream

But I guess it is justified. After all – the rest of the year we focus exclusively on the frontline of service provision; accountabilty, measuring outcomes, Regional Centers, and providers…etc. [Sarcasm intended]

So – this is the season, only a few short months, that we get to point the finger at Sacramento and provide for ourselves that most usefull solution to our cognitive dissonance – if any still exists.

BUT – Doug, you have shown the light from a different angle in the past, and if you do so know then I recant!

That is -I hope and pray that a “pod” was not placed in your bedroom by the local camarilla, which “body snatched” you and formed a new drone!

*Certainly, the lack of political will has SOME, if not a large, influence upon many of our problems - Just not ALL.

stanley said...

[paul say]...our vacuum lies leaders from the RC level down, and most critically at the provider level. There seems to be plenty wandering around chanting “Imhotep” [that is Latin for MONEY], but few on the provider level that seem even be able to recognize a bad situation when they see it.


[doug say] What is being herded by a herd of cats the paragon for? Regional Center boards.


gawd it would be nice if the great minds would talk to the small minds (the only thing I know about Imhotep is he was a wide receiver for UVA who built a pyamid)...and

Have no idea what a herd of cats has to do with RC boards being a paragon...butbutt;

If point is RC boards constitute a major leadership vacuum...agree. As said early: “BTW perhaps the most egregious frontliners who have let the Lanterman dream become a bureaucratic nightmare are parent board (RC and provider) members who acquiesce in hopes of better treatment for their child...the greater good gets the nasty end of the stick...in this regard”

hate to agree with paul so;

re: [doug say] By the way, I'm reading the DDS report on controlling regional center costs. Expect several upcoming posts on topics taken from that report.

If there were not a void of leadership in Sacramento...the report would have been a simple: “NO cuts recommended. We break the EXISTING LAW if IPP needs are not adequately funded.”

weel maybe California dreaming and thinking of RFK/MLK type leadership...but if we had it everything just might be peaches if not cream...

stanley seigler

Doug said...

Paul, I wondered what that husk was. No, I don't mean I'll be talking about the budget, rates or anything very fiscal. I meant the ideas referred to in the report. It was a well done report, actually.

Stan, you are correct, Imhotep is Egyptian not Latin and you are also correct that I mean that regional center boards, as a means of accountability at least and as a source of discipline at most are, in my opinion, beyond the argument stage of failures. Many good people are on them and many people use regional center boards as a platform to do good things but the original purpose- to direct and discipline management- is just not happening anywhere so far as I can tell. If they were, there would be two or three new Executive Directors every year. It's just not healthy to have so little turnover.

andy said...

A long time ago I knew a guy prone to rather bizarre seizures. Loud, frantic humming accompanied by repeated attempts to ascend the nearest wall, sideways. Each time, as he regained his wits, he'd point to his forehead and state, "It's just spaghetti up there."

I know how you feel, brother . . . when I think about this "Leadership" topic.

Do we need more leaders? Yes. No. Depends on where they're leading us, I guess. If they're leading us to the pseudo integration of hobo day programs or any other restrictive mandate, than, no, we have enough already. If they lead us to new frontiers which will broaden and expand an individual's options, than yes, we need more leaders . . . we desperately need more leaders. In other words, if they think like me: Yes. And if they think like the advocrats preaching the one, true way: No . . . no mas!

If they think about clients, yes . . . if they think for clients, no. If, for them, expanding services means expanding their organization---it's geography, size, donor base, influence---than, no. If expanding services means expanding the options and opportunities for those they already serve, than yes, yes, yes.

A long time ago, I wrote the Vision Statement for the large, multi-service nonprofit where I worked. It was: "The [agency name] will become a leader by following the ambitions and aspirations of the people it serves." A good vision statement, I thought, but like so many other pretty, saintly organizational directives brought forth from long-forgotten management retreats, it lived only as a banner in the lobby . . . its irony getting sharper as its words blurred and faded.

Can we develop leaders without indoctrinating them? I don't see how, without at least pointing them in the right direction. What is it you ask of a leader? Vision? Inspiration? Competent management? Fund raising? Growth? Profits? I think most boards of directors, those charged with identifying and selecting leaders for their respective organizations, would say the four final attributes (actually, they would say, "all of them," but they would only care about the latter ones).

Since growth and profits are far more easily gotten by doing the same old services---only more of them---these leaders are not going to be taking any risks by breaking new ground or relinquishing their control, or by following the wildly diverse ambitions and aspirations of a bunch of intellectually impaired homeys.

Sadly, the latest I see from so many our leaders of community services, is their "shrewed" assessment of the disability demographic. "Whoa! One out of three babies is diagnosed with autism! Let's start some autism programs!" . . . (whatever the hell that might be . . . the same old crap programs with a liberal sprinkling of the words "autism," "Aspbergers,"
"spectrum," et. al., in the program names, brochures, and program descriptions . . . some Temple Grandin books in the "resource library" . . . and some "sensory stimulation" baubles--"hey, I bet we can write a grant for that stuff."

Do I agree with Voltaire? . . . rats? or a lion? He may have said he preferred the lion, but his influence produced the Jacobins and the rats on the Committee for Public Safety . . . before his countrymen made a lion emperor. Voltaire, of course, bolted for eternity before he got the chance to live with what he wrought. I think maybe, you have more choices with rats . . .

I hate to keep harping on this, but we could develop several thousand new leaders, by first listening, and then following the you-know-what of the you-know-who. You could even do that in an "autism program."

--Andy the Rat

Doug said...

Great ramble, Andy. What makes this all so tricky is that we sometimes seem to be looking for younger generation of people to continue our work. In other words, followers.