Research Proposal: Models as Related to a Given Organization

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¶ … Homeless Youth in Minnesota:

The Leadership Challenges

To effectively develop and implement leadership initiatives such that these drives may be utilized in efforts to confront issues of homelessness as experienced by youth in Minnesota, HMIS must capitalize on its internal resources.

Background of Homeless Youth in Minnesota

Every three years, Wilder Research Center conducts a one-day study, revealing the approximate number of people experiencing homelessness throughout Minnesota. This massive project constitutes the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind in the United States (U.S.). When the Center conducted its latest study, October 26, 2006, researchers concluded that on any given night, nearly 9,000 Minnesotans may be homeless, with almost 11,000 more estimated to be "precariously housed" - typically doubled up with friends or relatives. In addition to the 2,700 children experiencing homelessness with their parents, more than 600 youth, 17 years old or younger, are reportedly homeless and surviving on their own (Wilder Research, 2007). Young people on their own comprise some of the least visible, yet most vulnerable of the homeless population. They less likely stay in shelters than do adults. More often, homeless youth stay temporarily with friends or in places not intended for habitation.

Homelessness depicts a composite of a myriad conditions and events, such as poverty; changes in residence, schools, and services; loss of possessions; disruptions in social networks; and exposure to extreme hardship. From an early age, a number of youths experiencing homelessness regularly face serious and challenging situations. They frequently experience conflicts with parents, abusive relationships, unreliable housing, and mental health issues. Over one third of homeless youth (35%) reported their parents neglected to provide food, shelter, or medical care, and/or consistently ignored their physical or emotional needs. Over half of homeless youth (54%) have been physically and/or sexually abused. Nearly one third (32%) of these youth reported they have remained in an abusive situation because they had no other housing options (Wilder Research, 2007).

Youth Homelessness Factors/Issues

In the journal article, "Youth Homelessness: A Call for Partnerships between Research and Policy Homeless," Sean a. Kidd, and Larry Davidson (2006) assert that the gripping need exists for researchers and policy-makers to exert collaborative efforts to improve social policy; informed by research findings. Factors/issues contributing to youth experiencing homelessness include "…young people being thrown out of, or running away from, homes in which abuse and neglect are occurring. Also frequent are histories of domestic violence, parental criminality and substance abuse, and poverty" (Kidd & Davidson, ¶ 2). Although no accurate estimates regarding the extent of youth homelessness, statistics indicate their numbers are increasing and that a minimum of one million youths were perceived to be homeless in North America during 2006.

Significance of Youth Homelessness

Beyond the toll homelessness takes on the youth themselves, the cost to the community proves substantial. The financial liabilities include the costs associated with of out-of-home placements, juvenile corrections, child protection services, lost future workforce, along with a potential tax base lost to the community. Nevertheless, according to E. Hart-Shegos, E. (1999) in "Homelessness and its effects on children," the Family Housing Fund found that the cost of supportive housing for a chronically homeless family, which depicts a step toward alleviating the problem, totals less than half the cost of the aforementioned public services required if these youth remain homeless (Hart-Shegos). Although a myriad of myths surround homelessness, with some discounting its significance, this critical issue proves significant. The reality purports that unless those empowered to counter the contemporary crisis start acting today, the concerns and impact of the issues associated with homelessness will only intensify and become literally and figuratively more costly tomorrow.

Research Questions

Research questions this paper addresses include:

1. What leadership challenges exist for Minnesota HMIS?

2. What strategies might leaders implement to better confront the issue of homeless youth in Minnesota?

II. Aspects of leadership as specifically applied to HMIS goals, mission and vision with respect to confronting the issue of homeless youth in Minnesota

Leadership in Context. Shared Leadership and Power

The leader who focuses on building shared-power arrangements enhances the strength of the group and contributes to achieving external agency goals. Barbara C. Crosby and John M. Bryson (2005), two public affairs professors associated with the University of Minnesota proffer their concept of public leadership in their book, Leadership for the common good; tackling public problems in a shared-power world. As they detail how their approach may be implemented to develop coalitions that solve problems, Crosby and Bryson explain the dynamics of a shared-power, "no-one-in-charge" world. The shared leadership and power approach, they stress, may be utilized to help advance the efforts of those committed to resolving the crisis (Crosby & Bryson, chapter 3). Personal Leadership

Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (2007) stress that leaders possess their own unique style and each individual leader may develop leadership strengths. The greatest leaders recognize their natural talents. Even though they realize they are good at what they do, however, they still invest time to improve themselves in their areas of expertise. For leaders to be effective, they need to recognize that developing people and developing strategies are both vital. An effective leader will be successful in each of the four domains of leadership strength: Executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. These components constitute critical components of the individual's personal leadership abilities.

Effective leaders also make a point to leverage their natural talents. As they practice what they know to work best, they also and add knowledge and skills to their base of skill. They are not only naturally gifted in particular areas; they invest effort to hone their skills. Talent without effort proves about as useless as a great amount of effort with diminutive talent. One minus the other reflects a waste. To become a great leader and develop strong leadership, one needs both a great amount of effort and talent (Rath & Conchie, 2007).

For optimal organization, organizations require strong leadership, as well as strong management. In the journal publication, "Team leadership: Concepts, roles, strategies & attributes," P.C. Bansal (2008) points out that collaboration and cooperation drive leadership, while they simultaneously demonstrate a deep faith in the interdependence of individuals, as well as, their creative/innovative abilities. Time, perceived as a finite source and flexibility, serves as a vital ingredient of the recipe for success.

Bansal (2008) identifies the three general categories of skills that prove to be relevant to leaders. These include:

1. Conceptual skills

2. interpersonal skills, and

3. Technical skills.

Alongside having a memory for detail, other skills complementary to help leaders be successful in a variety of situations include their analytical ability and their speaking ability. Sill other pertinent competencies a leader may benefit from include the ability to learn and adapt to change, as well as, emotional and social intelligence. Obtaining information about a person's traits and skills helps identify training needs for the organization's current jobs or to help prepare leaders to serve in to higher level positions.

Team Leadership

Teams constitute a central focus in new systems of organization. For a team to be effective, it must consist of both membership and team leadership (Bansal, 2008). The team's capacity to create synergy constitutes its most critical characteristic. Leaders build their teams by making them responsible for different tasks, allocating resources they need, recognizing the significance of team work, and in turn implementing team rewards. Attaching high value to team in performance appraisal systems and instituting particular programs helps reduce conflicts and increases collaboration.

Conflict management -- moving beyond the common ground of compromise to higher ground of creativity and innovation is necessary to move a team forward and build cohesiveness (Gerzon, 2006). This mandates that the leader nurtures an environment conducive to team work and pulls people together when conflict strikes in the organization or community. Mark Gerzon, author of Leading Through Conflict…, regularly works with leaders of conflicted groups and fragmented organizations. Gerzon encourages leaders to utilize the following eight tools to convert conflicts or challenges into progress: Bridging, conscious communication, dialogue, innovation, integral vision, inquiry, presence, and system thinking. He explains that leaders may be perceived as:

1. Those implementing a fear-based leadership strategy, who establishe a win/lose mind set;

2. those who mean well but operate only within their department, not perceiving the big picture, but denoting issues as us/them;

3. those who think systemically and see the entire picture; who identify each of the significant elements relating to the conflict; who understand the relationship between these various elements.

Tools for Effective Team Building

Great leaders recognize not only their strengths but also note their deficiencies. They reportedly excel in only a relatively limited number of leadership areas, however they successfully identify other individuals who compensate for those particular deficiencies. Rather than mimicking others, they understand their strengths and develop their way of leading. To build their teams, leaders may draw from a number of effective team building tools, including StrengthFinder, Thomas-Kihlman Conflict Management, and MBTI (Rath & Conchie, 2008). StrengthFinder… [END OF PREVIEW]

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