The Challenge for the Next Generation of Leaders
CQL’s Quality Measures 2005® emphasize community as the lens through which we view quality of life for all people. Organizations can provide supports to connect people to each other to and resources in their communities. We are moving from a focus on quality assurance and service quality of programs and organizations, to the quality of life that people experience in their communities. Program and organizational quality are important when they support people’s connection to the larger community, provide more opportunities for meaningful personal relationships, and a chance to build trust and social capital with others.
Our ideas about community are changing. At one time community represented a physical place – neighborhood, village or town. Today, community can mean a community of interest that connects people with a common interest in sports, music, art, volunteering, religion, culture, heritage or hobby. In addition, community can be defined by the people and relationships that keep us connected.
At the same time that our definitions of quality and our concept of community are changing, we are encountering great challenges in succession leadership in disability services. National estimates are that 60-75% of the leadership in disability organizations will retire in the next 3 to 5 years. This expected turnover will require a new generation of leadership.
The near simultaneous change in the definition of quality (from quality of service to quality of life), the shift in the place for quality (from program and organization to community) and the transition in quality leadership (from the current to the next generation), combine to create a sense of immediacy and urgency. We’ve got to get beyond the past – managing to improve programs and organizations – and on to the future – quality of life in a community context.
We need now a cadre of leaders who can manage the future vision of enhancing quality of life within a community context. We need leaders with a vision of community, and the opportunity for relationships, social connections and social capital. We’ll need good managers, but, more importantly, we’ll need to prioritize the development of leaders with a vision of community and quality of life for all citizens.
The connections among quality of life, community and leadership transition, reveal deeply held beliefs and strong convictions about the values and priorities in our current system of services and supports. The common theme that emerges is that we need urgent and vigorous leadership to address the quality of life for all in our common communities.