Section 4. Leading a Family Violence Task Force

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A FVTF leader has a responsibility and an opportunity to lead the FVTF in developing policy and practices that improve the lives of those affected by family violence.  Guiding a FVTF involves leading across different systems, organizations, and professional roles. Among other qualities, leadership requires determination, vision, active listening, collaboration, conflict resolution skills, and creativity.

While there are a number of different leadership styles, effective leaders share some common skills. Below is a list of leadership skills GCFV recommends for FVTF leaders.

Leadership Skills

1. Results Oriented and Strategically Focused
While it can be easy to repeat the same activities year after year, an effective leader encourages FVTFs to be strategically focused by consistently monitoring progress, seeking feedback from survivors, FVTF members, and stakeholders, and reflecting on the FVTF’s goals to ensure the FVTF activities align with those goals.

2. Effective Communicator and Effective Listener
Effective communication skills are essential for a FVTF leader.  Listening to FVTF members, communicating the needs of family violence survivors, and moderating discussions are important abilities of a leader.

3. Addressing and Managing Conflict
Conflict is a normal and inevitable component of collaborative groups. However, being able to manage the varying opinions and perspectives of members in a way that does not alienate one from another is a necessary skill for FVTF leaders.

Five Tips for Resolving Conflict

  1. When a problem arises, make sure it is thoroughly explored until everyone understands what the problem is.
  2. Consider why the problem exists and what the causes are before proposing answers.
  3. Make sure everyone involved discusses the pros and cons of several different alternative solutions to a problem. Do not necessarily accept the first solution that is proposed.
  4. When a group decides upon which solution to adopt and implement, make certain it is clear what the decision is, who should carry it out, and when. Do not assume that those involved will take care of issues without much structure.
  5. Follow up with decisions reached at meetings to see how they work out in practice.

(From The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence Toolkit)

4. Ability to Appreciate Diversity
One key to developing a strong and effective FVTF is the ability to appreciate the benefits and differences each member represents.  Achieving goals can be best achieved when diversity of opinion, background, and skill are engaged. Our age, gender, race, cultural background, and ethnicity all affect who we are and how we interact with others.  Differences broaden our perspectives and enrich our teams, and the FVTF’s membership and decision-making should reflect that.

Leadership Succession Planning

Leadership is a key characteristic of successful collaborative. Furthermore, skilled leadership is important to provide direction to and sustain the life of the collaboration. Leaders should take measures to ensure that the balance between member needs and expected outcomes of the FVTF is maintained (Allen 2003).

Proactively identifying and developing new leaders to succeed current ones and meet the FVTF future leadership needs is critical to the sustainability of the task force.  Thinking through how the organization's leadership needs will evolve in the future, identifying future leaders, and identifying activities to strengthen leadership capacity are the core of succession planning (Hogue 1995). Creating a plan enables the FVTF to develop leaders more intentionally and effectively.

Key steps in planning for leadership succession include:

  • Define the length of term for each leadership position in the bylaws
  • Determine the month and frequency which elections will be held
  • Decide the manner of nominating and voting for leadership positions, and memorialize in the bylaws
  • Plan for a transition period, to ensure the FVTF is not negatively impacted by change in leadership.

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