Sketching out leadership for Webmasters
- By Rich Kellett
- Sep 14, 2000
Understanding and developing skills in the "art" of leadership and the "science"
of management provides the greatest potential for Webmasters to create change
within their organizations or communites.
By taking on the position of Webmaster, the people who fill that role
have already demonstrated their leadership capabilities. Mastering the "science"
of management will assist Webmasters in continuing to create positive change
in their organizations.
After reviewing a number of leadership models over the years, I've found
that there are four dominant characteristics that define the art of leadership:
1. Leaders volunteer.
Leaders make a conscious choice to lead. Leadership is about volunteering
to contribute to the success of the organization or community. Leaders decide
they are willing to take the lead on some issue, topic, project or activity.
They willingly work visibily and openly with an organization or community
to create some positive outcome. Leaders volunteer to get involved in the
"public" debate within their organizations or communities and make visible
commitments as a result their interactions. Leaders emerge at any grade
or from within any formal or informal organization or community. Webmasters
are leaders because they have publicly stepped up to the plate (volunteered)
to be involved in improving the business of their agency.
2. Leaders attempt to achieve some positive outcome for the greater good
of their communities.
No leadership methodology or paradigm can replace a clear message from
a leader that the larger organization or community comes before the leader's
personal interests. The leader's energy comes from this commitment. For
this reason, I maintain that leadership is from the heart. It is a fundamental
"I care" attitude that drives the leader and creates motivation in others.
The community gives influence to the leader because the leader has placed
the community's welfare first. Webmasters are leaders because they seek
to achieve some positive success far beyond themselves for their agencies
and the public.
3. The most effective leaders understand that both leadership and management
skills are needed to guide organizations.
The most effective leaders seek to understand and apply principles taught
in the "science" of management when practicing the "art" of leadership.
Leaders are often good managers because they study management as a means
to improve their ability to create positive change. Management paradigms
such as "Management by Wandering Around," "Balanced Scorecard" and "Total
Quality Management" are all attempts to define the activities of managers.
These management models are components of what I call the "science" of management.
The "science" of management is the professional body of knowledge dealing
with the activities of people in the context of the organizational setting.
There are many good managers and many good leaders, but the most effective
have combined the qualities of both.
4. Leaders build sustainable infrastructures.
It is hard to build an infrastructure that outlasts the leader. But
real leadership involves thinking through how to build up people and organizations
to sustain a long-term achievement of goals and benefits. The real leader
understands that what they give back to the community is a lasting solution
in return for the community's support. Further, an "I care" attitude implies
creating real and lasting solutions and not sound bites that are more often
than not self-serving.
In closing, it is important to understand both leadership and management
in order to make the most change within the organization.
Webmasters are managers even if they do not have formal management or
supervisory responsibility. Anyone who is interacting and guiding an organization
or community formally or informally is a manager. Because Webmasters are
significantly involved in guiding the future business of their agencies
and working with the formal structure of the organization or forming their
own informal organizations, they are managers.
Understanding management principles (the "science" of management) will
assist Webmasters in creating change as they lead their organizations into
the new virtual world of electronic government.
I suggest reading at least one book on leadership to enhance your own
career journey on practicing the art of leadership. I recommend reading
the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," by Steven Covey, as an excellent
source to develop your own models and frameworks for leadership.
—Kellett is founder of the Federal Web Business Council, co-chairman of the
Federal Webmasters Forum and is director of the General Services Adminstration's
Emerging IT Policies Division.