Capacity building and leadership
The term “Capacity Building” has become a de rigueur term in . What does it actually mean? Does it mean to be able to grow? To be able to adapt? Or to be able to simply have extra capacity? From a managerial and efficiency perspective the final option, to have extra capacity, is simply a waste if the potential extra space built into the organization is not used. So we need to find out exactly what we mean by saying “Capacity building” as a leadership characteristic.
The “capacity” to grow is within each and every human. We actually seek growth and indeed cannot help growth in many areas. People grow older, wiser, and sometimes a bit more cynical thinking they’ve seen all the things they can in this world. We simply grow. Solid leaders who realize that organizations must also have the ability to grow, realize this and also realize that getting new ideas and fresh people is healthy for the organization. These solid leaders realize that people want to grow and that remaining stationary for long will result in a truncated future for the organization. Our world simply moves too fast to remain stagnant.
The role of leaders is to lead people while managers manage “things.” You can certainly have good leadership skills and be an excellent manager and be an excellent leader with a solid tool box of management skills. Its when these two functions of leaders become imbalanced that you’ll have problems. From a managerial perspective, stability is desirable so that we can predict future needs. When you have wildly fluctuating demand for a product its difficult to ascertain what the requirements for raw materials will be. If you “predict” wrong, you’ll either have too much money wrapped up in unused raw materials or not have enough raw materials and a competitor can step in and take over the gap. Conversely, leaders are mandated with change. We need change in order for the organization to move forward, explore new markets, experiment with new products and services, and provide higher quality performance for their customers. So if a manager is striving for stability and a leader strives for change, how do we reconcile this mismatch?
The answer is people. We must engage our people in the process. One of the key elements in Deming’s Fourteen points (2000) was “The Transformation is Everyone’s Job.” It’s not the responsibility of leadership to mandate change, it is the responsibility of leadership to LEAD change. This means empowerment and engagement of the mental, emotional, and committed resources that our people in our organizations have. They are the capacity builders. Give them the power to help you build the capacity and you’ll simply be amazed at the new capacity and fulfillment of the “capacity building” strategy.
Deming, W. (2000). Out of the Crisis. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA