What Makes a Dynamic Leader?
Intelligence: The Ability to Achieve Your Potential

by Larraine Segil

Can intelligence be taught? While the answer is controversial ---- I believe that it can.

Intelligence, as it relates to dynamic leaders, is filled with insight and perspective. It has a healthy dose of maturity and a sense of self-worth thrown in. It has to do with emotional control in dealing with stress and interpersonal conflict, as well as relationship sensitivity and a humanistic empathy for others. The manifestation of this kind of intelligence is the willingness to identify others who have talent and place them in the appropriate positions where they can excel, then arrange the environment in such a way that they will not only excel, but be rewarded for doing so.

Few organizations can do this while serving over 30 million customers, all of whom are individuals with local needs and constraints. Even fewer can do it with little or no capital, few assets other than knowledge workers, and an army of people with only the belief, the commitment, and the time to make it happen. I am speaking of D.A.R.E. --- Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

The leadership system of D.A.R.E. embodies the traits of a dynamic leader. The founder, CEO and chairman of D.A.R.E. is Chief Glenn Levant, former deputy chief of police for the Los Angeles Police Department. He had a dream, and his dream now brings its anti-drug/anti-alcohol message to over 55 million schoolchildren worldwide.

D.A.R.E. is based on the ounce-of-prevention theory from any angle you look at it: The business community wants stable employee and a good customer base. School systems want to prevent drug abuse. Law enforcement wants to reduce crime. The challenge for D.A.R.E. was to come up with a solution that could apply an ounce of prevention to create a pound of cure in a cost-effective and widespread way. What evolved was one of the best models of private-public partnerships ever to be created.

The strategy was to set up a memorandum of understanding that would be the standard for all communities. Every community that wanted a D.A.R.E. program would have to create agreement between the stakeholders --- the local business community, the school district, and the local police.

The implementation was cost effective. The private sector financed the education materials and the costs of training. The city government paid for lodging and transportation. The police department was already paying the local instructor's salary because a department veteran was selected to do the training.

As more communities learned about this program, enlightened police chiefs promoted D.A.R.E. in their communities as a way to prevent children from choosing a life of crime. Rather than being seen as a force hired to "beat up on bad kids," these police officers were perceived as proactive and enlightened ---as helpful partners of their communities.

When leadership is based on a value system that is generally acceptable to most people, when the result is the teaching of intelligence, good judgment, and something that contributes to well-being of individuals and communities, then the idea and its spread is irresistible. The approach I have been talking about regarding dynamic leaders has qualities similar to the D.A.R.E. program in that the top-down approach is not needed to make the idea work. People will see the efficacy of the concept and it will spread rapidly throughout the organizational ecosystem.

Other important aspects of the D.A.R.E. program involve the fidelity of its delivery. The curriculum is the same everywhere the program is taught. Police officers who become D.A.R.E. teachers are told how to do things. They are not permitted to skip information they are not comfortable with. D.A.R.E. officers are made to feel comfortable with the material and the fact that they are influencing young people to stay away from bad behaviors.

This is the most important thing that they will do in their careers. The D.A.R.E. program reinforces in officers the very reasons they went into community service and law enforcement in the first place. For many officers, that idealistic belief becomes tarnished over the years by tough experiences and stress. D.A.R.E. training re-establishes their early idealism. They know they are making their community a better place. What D.A.R.E. has done for police communities worldwide is to restore faith in their jobs and their valuable contribution to society.

A fundamental belief of the D.A.R.E. program is that there is no such thing as a child who is not intelligent. D.A.R.E. believes and espouses that no one should be doomed because of his or her environment or economic situation. Everybody has the ability to achieve their potential. By the same token, companies need to understand that employees must also be given the opportunity to be the best that they can be and must not be typecast because of their environment or history. D.A.R.E. --- as well as the dynamic leader model that I have been proposing --- believes that circumstances and opportunity make people terrific leaders. People need to know what opportunities are available and how to position themselves to take advantage of them. As this shows, intelligence and judgment can be taught by example.

Is your organization one that teaches intelligence? Consider these questions:

  • Do you or those around you suffer from a lazy mind? Ask your colleagues to read a book this week on something unrelated to your work --- and sponsor lunch with the group to discuss what was read. Stretch the mind a little and, at the same time, learn more about the personal and intellectual preferences of your team.

  • How does your organization deal with mistakes? Do you identify them to each other and then discuss how they were handled or how they could be handled?

  • Re-examine the commitment of your organization to learning and training and education. How many hours are required annually from each level of the organization?


Larraine Segil is a Thought Leader on mergers, alliances and the importance of business relationships. Her latest book, "Dynamic Leader, Adaptive Organization: Ten Essential Traits for Managers," was published in March, 2002 as the lead book for Wiley Publishers. She is also the author of "FastAlliances™: Power Your E-Business" (Wiley, 2001), and "Intelligent Business Alliances," (Times Books, 1996). Larraine has been featured in BusinessWeek, CIO, CFO, Bloomberg News, and Internet World. She is a commentator on CNN, CNBC and Yahoo FinanceVision on alliances and mergers, and consults worldwide on alliances for domestic and global companies. Larraine can be reached directly at (310) 556-1778 or via email at lsegil@lsegil.com . More information can be found on her website at www.lsegil.com .

Media Contact: Cindy Kazan (414) 352-3535; cindy@communik-pr.com .

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Copyright 2003 by Larraine Segil. All rights reserved.

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