For weeks now, we all have been reading emails and website homepage notices outlining actions in response to COVID-19. As a consultant to nonprofits, I am deeply moved by the deliberations and decisions made by my nonprofit clients and other organizations I know. Daily, our clients are meeting human needs in profound ways. Most must push through to attend to their vulnerable clients and take care of their employees at the same time. Others are faced with the need to pull back for the safety and health of their staff and clients. Nonprofit responses are unique and situational. […]
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “infrastructure” as: “The underlying foundation or basic framework (as of a system or organization).”
Not particularly alluring.
Programs and services. Working with clients. Effecting change. Now we’re talking. Yet, without effective infrastructure, these are not achievable. […]
“People always accommodate the most difficult person in the room.”
Shining City: A Novel, by Tom Rosenstiel
So many mission-driven organizations focus on improving and enriching the lives of individuals and families, enhancing communities, furthering understanding, and much more to make things better. Compassion and the desire to be responsive to needs is important in working with clients. However, when it expands into nonprofit management, manifesting as being slow to address the behaviors of a difficult staff member, it can cause dysfunction in the organization. In this post, I share one such scenario as a cautionary tale. […]
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. […]
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. […]
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. […]
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 […]
You have just hired a new senior executive. Congratulations! Now what?
When the search activities conclude, the transition continues and a well-planned onboarding process is critical. In the best scenario, a transition task force (which might be the search committee) will have contact with the new executive in the period from offer acceptance to first day on the job. Having a plan for this “in-between” time will make onboarding go more smoothly. It will also permit the transition task force to discuss onboarding with the new executive to learn what she/he would like included.
Onboarding a new nonprofit executive may seem daunting. Depending on the size and complexity of an organization, […]
Welcome to Your (New) World!
It’s 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night. The doorbell rings. You open the door and greet your dinner guests. You say, “So glad to see you! The coat closet is over there (pointing). Make yourselves at home. Just go in the kitchen, I think there’s some wine and some food. You’re smart, I know you’ll figure it out and cook up something. I’m going to run upstairs and take a shower. Back soon.”
It’s difficult to imagine inviting guests over with such little forethought. What would Miss Manners say about this inhospitable “hello”? […]
Nonprofit chief executives and their board members do not simply wake up one morning with the following revelations:
- The demographics of the area they serve have changed;
- Funding for a signature program is at risk; or
- High staff turnover is a dangerous threat to service delivery.
Yet, nonprofit leaders confront these realities often. When I read a story or hear about a nonprofit in extremis, I wonder if the leadership has been asleep at the wheel. Did no one see the signs? Why did they not point these things out to each other? What were they (or were they not) talking about at board meetings? […]