Welcome to the Wishnick & Associates blog! There is lots to read, based on experiences from my 16 years working with nonprofit, mission-driven organizations. I have written about strategic planning, capacity building, executive leadership transition, boards of directors, and more – lessons learned, effective principles, tips, and advice. My intended readers are nonprofit chief executives, board members, nonprofit staff (especially those aspiring to leadership roles), and anyone with an interest in myriad organizational issues. My hope is that through these blog articles, I can pass on a bit of the inspiration I get from my clients. Please let me know what you think, or if you have ideas for a future post … and do share these posts with others who may be interested. While I have moved to writing on a more occasional basis, there is a lot here to think about. Thank you for stopping by!

 

How to Talk About Succession Planning Without Causing Anxiety

I have never seen nonprofit executives and board members react with such discomfort as when someone mentions “succession.” There are usually awkward half-laughs, glances around the room to see how others are reacting, and then, a sense of liberation – finally, someone has mentioned the dreaded topic. The chief executive is concerned that mentioning succession will make the board think she/he is thinking about leaving. The board is concerned that it will send an unintended message to the chief executive that she/he should be thinking about moving on. If a founder is involved, let’s face it, the level of uneasiness skyrockets.

Are You Leading your Nonprofit with Courage?

Leading a nonprofit is hard work. Internal and external issues arise that demand attention, and the solutions may not be easy. When issues go unattended, they may become so significant that they potentially endanger the organization in some way. But this doesn’t need to be the case. With a strong leadership and skillful use of board meeting agendas, nonprofit executives and their boards can have the important conversations so they may be proactive and responsive and not caught off guard.

When It’s the Leader’s Turn to Be Reviewed

This post is adapted from a white paper I wrote several years ago. The topic continues to be relevant.

A nonprofit executive director’s performance review is about more than just how well she/he is doing the job. For the chief executive it is about leadership, professional development, sharing accomplishments (personal and organizational), receiving feedback, and goal setting. For the board, the chief executive’s performance evaluation is about leadership, fiduciary responsibility, being a responsible employer, goal setting and achievement, and success – success for the organization and the individual.

February 9th, 2018|Performance Review|

Old Year New Year: Permission to Dream

What is the best approach to the end of one year and the beginning of the next? Is it to continue carrying with us the weight of 2017? Or is it to enter 2018 unburdened and hopeful?

Sometimes when working on a strategic planning project with a client, they have difficulty keeping their eyes on the future. While all that has led up to strategic planning is formative, depending on the situation, it can serve to propel the organization forward, or it can impede its movement.

December 15th, 2017|Strategic Planning|

Why It’s Important to Pause

Earlier this fall, an executive coaching client introduced me to the following quote by Existential psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl, which continues to resonate in my mind:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

I can’t get it out of my head! It is relevant and important every day, for all of us. It helps us think before we speak. It keeps us from reacting in habitual ways. It affords us opportunity to shape our lives, to do our finest work, to tackle seemingly insurmountable obstacles, to continually strive to be our best selves. It signifies our maturity.

It is in the pause that I have the privilege of working with my clients – the engagements related to strategic planning, executive leadership transitions, board development, or other organizational development issues are often set off by some stimulus. In the case of strategic planning, it may be as routine as the conclusion of a prior plan or as exciting as charting the course for significant organizational growth. The departure of a nonprofit CEO or retirement of a founder sparks an organization into transition mode and the need to seek new leadership. A nonprofit whose programs and management have matured more quickly than its governance model may inspire a board development project.

When prompted by any of these stimuli and myriad others, nonprofit leaders need to respond. The hope is that before responding, they take advantage of the space that lies before them. Too often, when facing these triggers, an organization’s leaders may be inclined to plow through, perhaps because they work in such high-tempo environments. When leaders respond without taking advantage of the space, there is the likelihood of overlooking or missing the potential or opportunity.  But when they seize the space between stimulus and response, not only do they find growth and freedom, they can become exceptional leaders.

November 13th, 2017|Nonprofit Leadership|

HALT – So Your Board Members Can be Their Best Selves

During his freshman orientation, my younger son was introduced to HALT – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired – a stress management technique. For entering college students, it was supposed to help them increase self-awareness and understand what was going on with themselves and how this affected their interactions with roommates and others. It was geared to help them from becoming less pleasant versions of their normal selves.

HALT resonates with me. Especially regarding nonprofit boards and board meetings. After all, aren’t nonprofits better served by directors who function at their finest and highest levels?