We all know the negative typecasts we struggle against: Development professionals are posers. Development professionals are paid to party and play golf. Development professionals don’t really do anything. And, of course, there are some development professionals who, unfortunately, fit these typecasts (although none who read this blog I feel sure!).
But most development pros are interested in performing at high levels and doing quality work on behalf of their organizations. They are the anti-typecasts. They are authentic.
So, what is it exactly that identifies these authentic, effective development folk? How can one discern between the faker and the producer? For some time, I’ve been thinking about a list of qualities or characteristics of what I term, “authentic” development professionals. These are the people who have head and heart aligned wonderfully with the mission of the organization they serve. These are the people who lead regardless of title and make significant impacts over long periods of time. They are producers.
Until recently, I hadn’t had much success in figuring out how to articulate a list of characteristics with clarity. I liked the concept of the Authentic Development professional, and as the old adage goes, “I would know them when I see them,” but I wasn’t easily finding the words to explain the concepts.
Then I ran across a list of 10 Characteristics of Servant Leaders, as adapted from Robert Greenleaf (if you’ve not read Greenleaf’s books on Servant Leadership please do so). And as I read through this list, I thought they were exceptionally appropriate for my list of Authentic Development characteristics.
Here, then, is my list (which is really Greenleaf’s list).
Authentic Development Professionals are:
- Listeners – they are exceptionally adept at listening to all that is being communicated, verbally and non.
- Empathizers – they understand and embrace the circumstances of others.
- Healers – they heal spirits through encouragement and truth.
- Aware – they are keen analyzers of social contexts and individual preferences and interests.
- Persuaders – they have achieved results which has earned them the respect of others and the ability to influence.
- Conceptualizers – they think about ‘what could be’ and are skilled at encouraging others to do the same.
- Anticipators – things rarely happen to them, they are proactive and have keen foresight.
- Stewards – they meet short-term goals while at the same time, strengthening the ability to reach longer-term goals.
- Committed to the growth of others – their ego is not tied to self, but rather to the successes of those around them.
- Builders of community – they create environments in which people are attracted.
Posers won’t fit on this list. Nor will professional partiers. And these characteristics are rather transparent. One cannot pretend to be driven by these characteristics and remain effective for long.
If you work with someone who personifies these characteristics you are most likely instinctively drawn to them. Extend your gratitude to them today for their good work and for strengthening your organization. And if you strive regularly to abide by these characteristics as you practice our craft, please accept my heartfelt thanks. Our work is better because you are in it.