Food for thought

When you’re in charge
of a successful
organization, it’s important not to confuse
management with leadership, says Bill Clark.

“Good managers control
process and projects, and
they focus on due dates and
dollars, and that’s critically
important,” says the president
and executive director of the
75-employee food bank and
hunger relief organization.
“But good leaders need to
focus on the organization’s
values and its culture.”

Clark aims to create a culture where people aspire to
do great things, and he does
so by communicating with

Smart Business spoke
with Clark about how to
communicate effectively and
how keeping employees in
the dark can hinder growth.

Q. How do you create an
environment where people
can succeed?

In our organization, we’ve
been lucky enough to grow at
a pretty substantial clip.
There have been times in the
past five years where we have
grown 30 percent annually.

We’ve gone through a merger where we’ve worked with
other organizations and
brought them in and had to
incorporate their staff into
ours. And it’s very important
when you are growing that
rapidly to value integrity and

Growing very fast for a
good purpose is a very exciting thing for people to have
to experience. But, growing
fast in darkness can be very terrifying. To be able to keep
that upbeat sense of, ‘We’re
going out there changing the
world,’ it’s a constant
amount of communication,
and we don’t try to spin
what the future is going
to be.

We share what we think the
future will be as best as we
see it, but I try to make it
very clear I don’t have a
direct link to God. I can see
what it looks like to me, but
it’s subject to constant
change. That, on the one
hand, is not certain,
but it does support the
integrity that we are
sharing what we know,
and when we know it,
and, when it changes,
we will share that, too.

Q. What is the role
of a leader in an

The role of a leader
in any organization is
to be the communicator and chief of what
the grander purpose of
the organization is —
what are we really trying to do? Bill Gates
doesn’t say, ‘Go out
there and work so I
can be richer.’ Bill
Gates fires people up to say
what the role of technology
can do to change the world
and make it a better place.

That is a key component
that you’ve got to push all
the time. You’ve got to first
understand how the work
your organization is doing is
going to change the world,
and then you’ve got to communicate that and realize
when people go home at
night, that’s really what they
want to tell their kids.