Inspirations and Opportunities for the Future

By Frances HesselbeinSpring 2012 | Print
Our Institute now has a new name. On January 1, 2012, The Leader to Leader Institute became The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute, a decision made by the Board of Governors.

I remember twenty-two years ago when we established The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management. At that time, Peter maintained that the new organization should bear my name. That was one of the few battles he ever lost; our board and I were determined that this new organization, founded to honor Peter Drucker, would indeed be The Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management.

We presented great leadership conferences, with Jim Collins speaking at our first one, reaching thousands of nonprofit leaders and their partners in business and government around the world. We celebrated Community Innovation Fellows and worked in partnership with many organizations to reach leaders across societies. Workshops and seminars were developed for social sector leaders based on our organizational Self-Assessment Tool, and we introduced leaders to strategies for developing social sector, business, and government collaboration.

We created a website including hundreds of articles from this journal, providing premier leadership wisdom and insight from more than 500 thought leaders, whose intellectual contributions have furthered the Institute’s work in publications and presentations, as well as on the ground in organizations both in the United States and abroad.

The Next Decade of Collaboration

Twenty years later, 28 books in 30 languages, including Peter Drucker’s The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization, are still moving around the globe. We begin our next decade with a focus to reach, and collaborate with, global leaders at all levels in all sectors.

On December 8 we presented the third free webinar in our 2011 Global Webinar Series, Leadership by Example, all available for replay on our website. It was imperative for us that the webinars be free of charge, so that the least affluent leaders and the poorest countries, worldwide, could be represented. We can report that more than 40 countries and more than 1,000 leaders all over the world have joined our online dialogues, so far.

On November 1, 2011, our sixth annual Leader of the Future Award was presented to Patricia Shinseki, the wife of General Eric Shinseki (U.S. Army Ret.), in a most moving ceremony. That November evening 130 guests came together to honor Patricia, including General Shinseki, currently Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

We joked with him about how the tables were turned: this evening brought Patricia to the podium, and it was General Shinseki who sat at the table, the observer of the beautiful award ceremony and even more beautiful acceptance speech. Here are a few lines from her remarks:

Just as our nation’s men and women in uniform have answered the call to duty, their families, especially the children, have also borne the sacrifice of service. Tonight, I wish to dedicate this award to military spouses, past and present, who also shoulder the responsibilities of service—while often managing careers, households, and raising the family alone. Throughout our nation’s history, as early as Martha Washington, military spouses have been known to provide support and render assistance—quietly, without seeking recognition.

As volunteers, their giving spirit smooths pathways and encourages others to follow. Leaders from all three sectors celebrated the life and contributions of this great global leader. You can view Patricia Shinseki’s speech in its entirety on our website.

The Best People, the Best Organization

I write this as I have just come from a very emotional experience, speaking to 1,800 Girl Scout leaders, board and staff members, and Girl Scouts from troops celebrating their 100th birthday at the Girl Scouts of the USA celebration and national council meeting in Houston.

I served as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 1976 to 1990, for 13-plus years, about 5,000 days, and I never had one bad day; a few tough ones . . . but never a bad day. My last year was my most exuberant, as it should be. I reminded the audience that when I talk about the Girl Scouts, I describe them as “the best people in the world, the best organization in the world.”

I came back to New York to find a wonderful interview and photograph in Fortune magazine: "Learning from Peter Drucker and the Girl Scouts."

The article was accompanied on the magazine’s website by a five-minute video, "Frances Hesselbein’s Life in Leadership." We have highlighted both on the Institute’s website.

It is overwhelming to have this kind of recognition, and we are happy that the title Fortune gave to the article paid tribute to both Peter Drucker and the Girl Scouts.

Then I was on to Chicago to present the Linkage Frances Hesselbein Excellence in Leadership Award to the Honorable Keiki Fujimori, the daughter of the former President of Peru, Albert Fujimori, who herself ran for the presidency of Peru in 2011 and lost. She will run again, and having heard her speak, I am sure she will win!

This was just part of November’s inspirations and opportunities. I now approach a quiet Thanksgiving.

I have much to be thankful for, and high on my list is you, our subscribers, our readers, our authors, all our friends, who share their copies multiple times with friends. I thank you from my heart as we say, together, "To serve is to live."

I hope you had a Thanksgiving filled with love, gratitude, hope, and anticipation of the bright future of 2012 we will share.

Frances Hesselbein is editor-in-chief of Leader to Leader, founding president of the Drucker Foundation, president and CEO of The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute, and former chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.

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