High Impact Leadership

Posted by on June 25, 2011 with 0 Comments

Becoming a great nonprofit leader…what does it look like and how does one become one? The topic of leadership has been around a long time and studied at great length. Books have been written and studies have been published, but the focus has primarily been on the private sector. There isn’t much in the literature that looks at leadership in nonprofits. And, let’s face it: while there are similarities in the attributes needed in both, there are also some distinct differences.

Based on research I’ve conducted and my own experience working with and in the social sector, there are seven key areas of focus I believe are necessary to become a great nonprofit leader. They are: 1. Be clear on your mission and purpose; 2. Invest in yourself and others; 3. Inspire others; 4. Think strategically; 5. Share leadership; 6. Build strong relationships; and 7. Achieve results. Further, my contention is these skills may be learned and practiced to produce a great leader. In other words, a person doesn’t have to be born with these skills to demonstrate great leadership.

So how does one learn and practice these competencies? My colleague, Stephanie Small, a former executive director and now the Chief Synergist at Synergy Partners, and I have partnered to develop a two-day course that outlines the skills needed to become a great nonprofit leader. Called High Impact Leadership (or NMI 105), the two-day program is packed with hands-on learning activities that stretch and challenge participants to identify and own their strengths, get clear on their purpose, and practice tools that will help them inspire others, think strategically, build strong relationships, share leadership, and focus on outcomes. Click here to register.

Class size is limited, and the class is filling up fast. If you miss this round, it will be offered again on November 2-3, 2012. We are excited to bring this leading edge learning opportunity to our fellow nonprofit colleagues in Arizona.

Karen Ramsey is President & CEO of Lead for Good, a nonprofit organization dedicated to leadership development in the nonprofit sector. Look for her upcoming book entitled Lead for Good: Seven Steps for Unleashing the Great Nonprofit Leader Within.


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Inaugural Post

Posted by on June 11, 2011 with 0 Comments

Welcome to the inaugural blog post of Lead for Good, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to helping nonprofit professionals unleash their great leadership skills.  This blog is intended to be a forum for sharing ideas, questions, and comments regarding leadership issues facing the social sector.  And believe me, there is a lot to discuss!  For example, an executive director was recently struggling with a situation involving a poor performer in her organization.  While she really didn’t want to confront the employee (who does?!!), she knew the situation was negatively impacting morale and the organization was suffering.

After exploring options, the executive director decided to have a courageous conversation with the poor performer.  Before having the talk, however, she did some prep work that included: 1) coming up with SPECIFIC, factual examples of the poor performance; 2) identifying a “benefit of the doubt” reason the person’s work might not be up to snuff (e.g. the person didn’t have the necessary resources) so she could ease the tension and find out the REAL reason for the crummy work (if it was something other than a resource issue); 3) and thinking through what had to change and what successful performance needed to look like going forward.  In addition, she made sure to set aside plenty of time (1.5 hours) for the meeting, so they wouldn’t be interrupted and she could devote her full attention to the conversation.

I’m happy to report the meeting went very well.  It turned out the employee did not clearly understand what was expected of her.  Once the executive director understood what was happening, the two partnered to come up with a revised job description with more clearly defined duties and responsibilities.

Have you had a similar experience?  Please feel free to share your stories and opinions, pose your own questions, and/or share resources as the mood strikes you.  The purpose of this blog is to create a mutually supportive community of leaders (or aspiring leaders) who are working in the nonprofit sector.

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