News, comments, resources, and more for nonprofits.
In Disney’s Aladdin, our hero’s disguise is betrayed when he asks Jasmine, “Do you trust me?” This is a bottom-line question. It sets the bar of any relationship, and gets down to the naked truth of where you stand and who you are.
Trust makes an impression.
Whether in a family or business relationship, trust means more than just doing what you say you’re going to do. It means that you can speak freely and openly with those you trust. You’re comfortable being totally honest and transparent with them. You’re willing to place your reputation in their hands.
In the workplace, trust’s impact goes beyond individual relationships. It affects the key organizational matters of maximizing performance and achieving desired outcomes. Without trust, we question our colleagues’ intentions and judge their personalities. Productivity disintegrates in the acidic pool of office politics.
So, how can we begin the process of building trust? A first step, as suggested by Patrick Lencioni, is the Personal Histories Exercise – a low-risk, 20-minute activity to help team members understand one another as people. By having each person state where they grew up, how many siblings they have, and an interesting or unique challenge from their childhood, team members connect at a personal level and begin to see each other as trustworthy human beings.
Lencioni offers other exercises and models on his website. The foundation of it all, however, is trust; and it is up to the organization’s leader to make the first move and model the desired behavior – not a bad New Year’s resolution!
Over the past two weeks, one lesson has presented itself to me in a variety of forms – the importance of clarity over and above certainty.
Without going into all the gory details, suffice it to say that processes have stalled waiting for every last fact to be gathered, people have adorned their arguments with extraneous and jargonistic detail to prove the absolute rightness of their point of view, and meetings have been endlessly prolonged while meaningless minutia was debated. It’s exhausting!
In his book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni names “choosing certainty over clarity” as temptation number three. While he affirms the importance of working with good information, he argues that many of us (CEO or not) take pride in our analytical skills and keen insights. Consequently, we spend too much time honing even-more-finely-detailed analyses into conclusions that get a nod but don’t move our organizations forward. Further, the higher impact issues before the group are left to the final few minutes of an already-too-long meeting.
Clarity, in contrast, means that you take a stand, and people understand the argument being made. They know points on which they agree and, perhaps more important, points on which they disagree. To speak clearly, however, requires us to set aside our fear of being wrong (or, at least, not-completely-right) and willingly invite others to challenge and improve our arguments.
Also, clarity makes accountability possible. Clarity of mission and purpose as well as clarity on individual roles and responsibilities means everyone knows why we exist, where we’re headed and who’s doing what. Everyone knows what’s expected and each person participates in keeping the organization on track.
In the study, Fearless Journeys, the researchers describe how several orchestras took on innovative ideas to invigorate their organizations. In the closing, the writer observed that what made all the difference was NOT the choice each made, but the fact that they dared to choose.
Any decision is better than no decision.
The Five Temptations of a CEO
Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed getting to know some of our area’s consultants. The topics of our conversations vary at first, but they always come back around to leadership.
While there were many common points of agreement among these conversations, one that stands out to me is that everyone can be a leader. Indeed, our organizations need leaders in every area, creating what Jim Collins (Good to Great) calls “pockets of greatness.”
Developing leadership requires long-term investment in building technical skills and nurturing adaptive skills. In the months ahead ONEplace addresses both technical and adaptive development through a series of programming:
Take the Lead: Attention – Tues Nov 27, 1:00-2:30 pm – Learn what defines leadership vs. management and why you need both. Discover how you can take the lead from your current position – wherever that may be. Explore practices that will develop your leadership ability.
Project Management – Wed Nov 28, 9:30 – 11:00 am - Learn how to prioritize an overwhelming array of activities. Discover a rational, methodical process for defining, planning, and managing your projects. Examine steps you can take to protect your plan from potential problems and capitalize on potential opportunities.
ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy 2013 – January-May, 2013 – An in-depth exploration of nonprofit executive leadership over ten sessions plus a mentoring experience. Applications are due November 30.
Consider these opportunities as well as resources found on our Leadership ONEpage to help you develop your leadership skills.
Good to Great
Recently, I heard Mario Morino of Venture Philanthropy Partners speak of the “…acute shortage of the kind of leaders that high-performing nonprofit and public agencies require.”
This comment tracks with what I’ve heard from business and nonprofit leaders for years: leaders are in short supply.
Mario also says, “Bluntly put, the number-one limiter on our ability to create meaningful, lasting change in our social and public sectors is an acute shortage of the ‘right people on the bus.’” The “right people” he refers to are leaders, i.e., “people with a professional, personal, and passionate commitment to solving a problem about which they possess a commanding and deep understanding.” To be truly effective, organizations need leaders not only in the top jobs but throughout the organization.
ONEplace@kpl has doubled its commitment to bring you leadership training. Our ONEplace Nonprofit Leadership Academy 2013 will begin in January and address every area involved with running a nonprofit. We also are looking to the character of a leader and offering an occasional series called, Take the Lead. The first session is November 27 and explores the importance of focused attention – committing to it, practicing it, and maintaining it.
Consider these opportunities as well as resources found on our Leadership ONEpage to help you develop your leadership skills.
A Mindful Nation
You’re leading a staff meeting, giving a report to the board, addressing a group of program volunteers, or having coffee with a donor. In these situations and others, you have the opportunity to tell a story.
We have the stories – volunteers, staff, and participants tell us wonderful tales of how they have been greatly helped and deeply touched. The challenge becomes presenting that story so the full impact is felt by the listeners.
On October 24, we’re hosting “Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Tell,” a webinar by Kivi Leroux Miller, president of the Nonprofit Marketing Guide. This event explores the dramatic plot lines used by writers and offers steps on how to craft your story to achieve maximum impact (more info).
Put the power of story to work in your fundraising, board development, and community relations.
P.S. We also recently added November programming to our ONEplace calendar (check it out).
We redesigned our ONEplace@kpl website to serve you better. The new design streamlines the navigation and organizes information by work areas. At the heart of the design is our new ONEpages service.
ONEpages provides a one-click webpage for each of four target areas:
Executive Leadership Program Management
Fund Development Marketing & Communications
Each ONEpage offers downloadable resources, links to recent articles, a list of upcoming events, and a comment section for you to post your questions, comments, and insights. ONEpages are updated frequently, so bookmark the landing page(s) relevant to your work.
The comment area works like an ongoing roundtable. This is your area to post questions, respond to questions, provide links to helpful sites, and generally find and offer help.
I hope you find this redesign helpful. Take a tour a let us know your thoughts and suggestions. The purpose of this site – as in all we do – is to be useful to you.
Great grant proposals begin with research. In fact, approximately 70% of the grant writing process is research. Knowing the right tools and how to use them makes this critical element efficient. So, we again present our Grant Research Tools Workshop on September 26 at 1 p.m.
During the session you will identify what you need to know about your organization and learn how to match your needs with the right funder. You will discover websites and directories with relevant information, and explore the Foundation Center Directory Online with over 100,000 foundation and corporate funders.
Bailey Mead, ONEplace Associate, leads this important class. Bailey joined ONEplace last spring. Previously, she served as Development Director at WARM Training Center (an organization dedicated to building sustainable communities in Detroit through energy efficiency and job training), Grantwriter at Area Agency on Aging 1-B, and Annual Fund Manager at THAW (The Heat and Warmth Fund). With more than 13 years of fund development and leadership experience in organizations ranging in size from grassroots to statewide, she brings a breadth and depth of nonprofit experience to assist you.
Essential nonprofit fundraising handbook
It’s easy for those of us in nonprofits to get so engaged in running our programs and organizations that we forget to tell the general public. We communicate with those close to us, but the wider community may not even know we exist.
Let’s change that!
Like most important endeavors, marketing and communications needs a plan, clear task assignments, and effective execution. In the weeks ahead, ONEplace offers help to jump start your efforts.
First, the Marketing & Communication Roundtable restarts on the third Tuesday of every month beginning September 18 at 11:30 a.m. Like all our roundtables, these are lunch and learn discussions with colleagues where you reflect on your efforts, articulate your successes and issues, and learn from each other’s experiences.
Second, ONEplace hosts four events targeted to your communications needs: “Facebook for Nonprofits” on October 10, “Measuring your Nonprofit Success” on October 17, “Managing your Editorial Calendar” on October 18, and “Three Stories Every Nonprofit Should Tell” on October 24. Visit our website for details and registration. These events are free of charge.
Make October the month you nail down your marketing and communications strategy. ONEplace can help via the resources above and providing direct assistance with your specific needs. Call me (269) 553-7899 or email ThomA@kpl.gov to find out more.
Let’s be real…September really starts the year. In addition to school, many programs, seasons, and endeavors of all sorts begin in the fall.
As I look ahead to this, my first year as director of ONEplace@kpl, I look forward to the activities, the people, the fun, the challenges, and all the ups and downs. I make plans secure in the knowledge that few things go as planned. I set a course confident that I will, more than once, find myself off course. I claim a vision encouraged by surety of surprising twists and turns.
Emboldened by the barriers, hurdles and miscues that lie ahead, I open my eyes wide and dive right in. But, that’s leadership – keeping the endeavor mission-focused over the long haul while events and circumstances (largely beyond our control) would draw it off course.
Fortunately, while we may feel isolated from time to time, none of us have to face our challenges alone. My greatest joy over the past two months has been the daily confirmation that all of us in the nonprofit community are on the same team. Every engaging post-workshop Q&A session, roundtable discussion, and counseling interaction draws upon a shared commitment to building a Greater Kalamazoo. We’re on the same team – not by virtue of common funders but because of a common passion and our common commitment to live, work, play and thrive in this place we all call home.
So, here we go! Another year kicks off promising nothing more than the opportunity to engage. Go for it – great things lie ahead.
A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. English Proverb
I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand
Charles Schultz bestowed those words on Linus Van Pelt in November 1959, and supervisors far and wide continue to quote him. Why? Because, like a siren’s call…
Beautifully constructed and multi-colored, the geometric artifices of management process leap from the page into our unfiltered imagination, and we bask in the glow of a well-ordered workplace. Suddenly, our idyllic vision explodes! “Real people” have entered the picture and our so-called process is mangled and shredded to bits. Men and women – full of their own “thoughts” and “opinions” – actually care and act upon their unsolicited thoughts and opinions. What’s a manger to do!?!
I trust that your supervisory task is not that bad. Even so, our clean, well-ordered supervisory systems get various degrees of messy once applied to real life. That’s why ONEplace@kpl is bringing back Paul Knudstrup’s Nonprofit Supervision and Management Series.
Based on his book, The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors, this five-session series explores key issues and strategies in supervision and management:
• What do managers really do?
• What’s different about managing a nonprofit?
• How good communication helps create healthy relationships and a strong work environment
• Focusing on achieving the results needed by your organization
• Empowering your staff
• Taking responsibility for your ongoing growth and development
• And much more
While each session is independent, they build upon each other, so committing to the entire course will bring the greatest benefit. As an incentive, those who attend all five sessions receive a free copy of Paul’s book.
The sessions run Monday mornings Sep 10, 17, 24, Oct 1 and 15 (more info). Space is limited for this popular course, so sign up early.
The 8 Essential Skills for Managers and Supervisors