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Practicing a Value Proposition Perspective

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization. 

By Scena Webb
February 16, 2019

Leadership is such a general term that can represent a myriad of perspectives. Leading a multi-generational workforce demands a leader who can demonstrate various leadership styles. Today’s article offers my insights on one way to effectively lead others by practicing a value proposition perspective. The term value proposition is not new but normally appears in articles relating to marketing.  For example, Pennie Frow wrote a nice article in 2011, “A stakeholder perspective of the value proposition concept,” advocating for aligning value with relationships within an organization. I agree with this perspective.  I advocate that leaders who practice a value proposition perspective seek what’s considered valuable to internal stakeholders.  For the sake of clarity, let’s assume you have a goal to increase collaboration between your department and two others in your organization. Here’s one way to implement leading from a value proposition perspective:

“What’s valuable to you may not be what’s valuable to your internal stakeholders.”

  • Seek to understand what the other department needs to become successful.  Borrowing from the brilliant work of the Arbinger Institute, in the video, “An outward mindset,” you plan to focus on the value you can help achieve for the other department. Your goal as the leader of your team is to demonstrate what collaboration looks like in an effort to role-model expected performance.
  • Create a plan of action where you enable your employees to engage in strategies that foster collaboration by becoming members of teams across the organization. Here you are placing people in close proximity to members of the other department so that familiarity can grow. Remember, your goal is to increase collaboration between your department and that of two others in your organization.  I am reminded of a powerful quote from Julian Castro stated on January 12, 2019.  He said, “When we want change we don’t wish for it. We work for it.”
  • See your department as one of the branches to the tree of success inside your organization. As depicted in the image above, this tree has several branches.  Each person in your organization has unique talents and gifts that have the potential to shape collaboration within your organization.  Use the skills of your employees to help propel conversations around what brings value to other departments.  Effective leaders don’t try to carry out the mission by themselves. Rather, effective leaders execute strategies that empower others to carry out the mission. 

Thinking about others in your organizations from the perspective of what brings them value has a tendency to demonstrate an outward way of leading. This leadership style shows significance in how conducive it is to modeling behavior that others can follow.  Coming back to the opening sentence of this article, leadership is such a general term that you, as the effective leader, can contextualize what leadership looks like by following the above actions.  Again, you can demonstrate leadership by seeking to understand what brings value to other departments in your organization. You can strategize a plan of action that delivers their value by engaging your employees in cross-functional teams. You can visualize your department as one of the branches on the organizational tree of success by capitalizing on the talents of your employees. This is all towards the goal of increasing collaboration.

The context of leadership in this discussion is an action word, meaning, the action of leading a group of people or an organization.  Much research has been done on various perspectives of the word leadership. Such research has been from a scholarly perspective, a practitioner perspective, a nonprofit perspective, a clergy perspective, and many I have not mentioned.  Many people use the term leadership interchangeably with the term management.  For clarity, I am using the term as an action word: to plan, coordinate, seek to understand and then to put into action a strategy that leads others toward a successful outcome.

Increasing collaboration toward successful organizational goals must employ using the skills of the talented individuals who work under your leadership.  I invite you to check out the book, “Leadership Her Way,” where I share insights from retired military women who work in public and private organizations.  In this work, you will find helpful insights that are not complicated but very actionable.  I invite you to create your leadership library, where you can create a virtual mastermind of ideas and practices to help demonstrate effective leadership from a value proposition perspective. As said by Martin Luther King Jr., “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Author:Dr. Scena Webb is a military veteran having completed 21 years of naval service. She is the author of two books and owns a small business, Celebrate Incorporated, that offers coaching services for veterans and doctoral students. She is an instructor for Indiana Wesleyan University where she teaches graduate students in the Masters of Public Administration program.

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