Peter Legge, O.B.C. is Chairman / CEO of Canada Wide Media Limited, a $30-million publishing company based in Vancouver with a staff of 140. He is the author of 14 books and an accomplished speaker. Peter is a long time friend and colleague in Speakers Roundtable. Recently he shared this article in his ezine and I wanted to share his insights with you:
William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, was once asked to telegraph his officers using just one word to describe what The Salvation Army is all about. After much thought, the one simple word that he came up with was, “OTHERS.”
“It is not about us,” he said, “It’s about others.”
The Salvation Army has been true to this one word for over 100 years in Canada – helping the needy, the sick, the downtrodden and the disheartened. The book Leadership Secrets of The Salvation Army, written by the former Commissioner of The Salvation Army in the United States, Robert Watson, captures the real essence of leadership as one of service to others.
The Salvation Army’s military style is rooted in the militaristic spirit that was prevalent in the mid-1800s, when William Booth and his wife Catherine began their work in London, England. This organizational style has proven effective in making the Army a highly disciplined and mobile organization, able to respond quickly and efficiently to human need whenever and wherever it arises. Today, The Salvation Army’s uniform is recognized as a symbol of commitment and a sign of availability and accessibility in times of need or crisis.
Peter Drucker once said, “The Salvation Army is by far the most effective organization in the United States. No one even comes close to it with respect to clarity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication, and putting money to maximum use.”
The fact that The Salvation Army is one of only two organizations that were around when the Dow Jones started in 1884 and still in existence today is a testament to the strength of purpose of this organization.
When William Booth died on August 20, 1912, at the age of 83, 40,000 people filled the auditorium to pay their respects. Monarchs sent wreaths and behind the funeral cortege, 5,000 members of the famed and highly respected Salvation Army marched six abreast. Even Queen Mary, an admirer of Booth and his work, chose at the last minute to attend. Because of her late decision, however, no special place of honour had been arranged for her and she took her place among the common folk of England. Finding herself seated in a sea of people, the queen soon discovered that she was sitting next to a one-time prostitute whom Booth had told shortly before his death, “One day, when you get to heaven, you’ll have a place of honour.”
So how did this one man leave behind an organization so prepared for the future that it could continue growing strong nearly 100 years after his death, recently attracting the largest single charitable donation – $2 billion – in history? In Leadership Secrets of The Salvation Army, Robert Watson shares the principles that have made The Salvation Army so effective in the U.S., Canada and around the world. These include the following five laws that would make any organization more productive and efficient:
1. Clarity of Mission – The Salvation Army uses a laser-like focus to evaluate everything it does in terms of its mission of preaching the gospel and meeting human needs without discrimination.
2. Ability to Innovate – The Salvation Army’s investment in people gets incredible returns making it as much “venture capitalist” as it is charity.
3. Measurable Results – The Army has developed a unique way of setting, monitoring and celebrating the achievement of measurable goals that allows it to say, “Look, we promised we would do this and we delivered.”
4. Dedication – It’s how The Army accomplishes so much with a relatively small cadre of officers.
5. Putting Money to Maximum Use – The Army’s bare skeleton of a national organization makes the most of every resource and ensures that each operational unit is self-sufficient.