I feel a little guilty writing a leadership book when there are so many on the shelves already. So let me explain why I wrote my new book*, Re-imagining Leadership in Jewish Organizations. When I left my position at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington a few years ago, I gave a speech that outlined the lessons I had learned from being the CEO of that Federation. Many people approached me afterwards to thank me and also to share their own observations. There was so much to say that I had culled from both reading and leading that the book almost wrote itself. Every leader should have his or her own ten commandments of leadership.
Decades of Jewish communal service has taught me the importance of Jewish literacy, of inspiration, of being mentored and mentoring, of creating certain kinds of lay and professional partnerships and of working quickly. I am honored that Larry Moses, the former president of the Wexner Foundation, wrote the forward to the book because so much of what has inspired me and helped me build a foundation for my leadership came from my exceptional years with the Wexner Foundation.
There I also learned the value of thinking about leadership within a uniquely Jewish framework. Leadership learning is not Jewish per se. Just as ethical values are universal but can have their wellspring in Jewish sources, I feel that most of the lessons I learned about leadership are universal but tinged with a Jewish flavor and apply to our particularistic work cultures. In writing the book, the ten lessons I shared are true of most leaders I know, no matter their faith or if they run a for-profit of a non-profit organization.
But when it comes to Jewish organizations, we need a more “for prophet” approach. We need ancient voices and modern musings and the discipline to take leadership lessons and translate them into the way we actually run organizations. We need more leaders, more ethical leaders and better-qualified leaders for the complex challenges ahead. I’ve discovered many lessons and have many more to learn. I am exicted to share them and can’t wait for you to read the book and give me your feedback and your ten lessons.
*All author's proceeds from the Re-imagining Leadership in Jewish Organizations are benefiting The Jewish Agency for Israel.