Great organizations have leaders that never take their eyes off the mission. They lead with personal humility and passion for the mission, and they will do whatever it takes to fully realize this mission. They also instill this same passion in their staff by helping them see the larger picture and successfully align their efforts with the mission and purpose. Change can be difficult, but leaders that succeed are able to redirect and mobilize organizational energy in ways that enhance quality and improve effectiveness. Your actions, words, and deeds must be consistent with the desired new culture in order to gain staff buy in.
SureImpact CEO Sheri Chaney Jones was recently interviewed on the NXUnite panel discussion “Advancing Together: Building and Supporting Your Nonprofit Leadership Team. Here are some highlights from the panel. You can also watch the full panel discussion here.
Your nonprofit’s success is fundamentally linked to the strength and effectiveness of your leadership team. But, frequently leadership teams struggle to form a cohesive team to drive the organization forward. This panel provided best practices and recommendations for building and supporting a strong nonprofit leadership team.
What strategies have you found most effective for building leadership capacity within your nonprofit senior management team?
Nonprofit leaders inherently are asked to wear a lot of different hats. So, recognizing that, it’s important to have a clear and compelling strategy that is aligned to your mission. What are the outcomes your nonprofit wants to achieve? What are the goals your funders want to achieve? Why do your participants engage with your nonprofit?
It’s important to have a technology system in place that gives you real-time metrics to guide your work and help you make real-time decisions to guide the company. It’s difficult to be strategic if your time is spent going through spreadsheets of data to see how your organization is doing.
How can you make sure your leadership team is focused on strategy instead of just operations?
It starts with creating a culture focused on achieving maximum impact in your community. You can’t measure your success purely with operation goals, you also need metrics that show how your participants are better off as a result of your organization. Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team:
Do your success measures align with your mission?
How will you know if you have been successful at increasing outcomes?
Do you have the technology to measure your progress in real time?
How can you incorporate discussions about metrics into meetings and one-on-one conversations with staff?
What are some best practices for balancing the workload among senior leaders while maintaining efficiency and effectiveness in nonprofit operations?
It’s important to remember that you can’t do everything yourself. Think about what you need to focus your time and energy on the most, and then delegate to your team. Also, many times as leaders we tell our staff that “the door is always open.” However, sometimes physically closing your door so you can focus on your strategic work is a great way to signal to your team that what you are working on is important. It’s also very important to leverage technology so you can be more efficient and effective with your time.
Why do great people sometimes not make the best leadership team?
It’s important to realize that all individuals have their own gifts and unique brilliance. The whole is greater than the individual. To effectively work together to build a successful leadership team, you have to recognize and rely on everyone’s unique gifts. For example, some people are visionaries, other people excel in operations, and some are the driving force for collaboration. If you don’t recognize your leadership team’s unique gifts, there will be a lot of time wasted in miscommunication. The key is to understand the unique brilliance of your team and maintain a balance to push the organization towards achieving your goals.
Can long-term leadership team best practices be maintained?
One of the best ways to ensure leadership team best practices are maintained is to focus on succession planning and knowledge retention in your organization. Do you have policies and procedures documented for your leadership roles? What about for all roles in your organization? When a staff member leaves, it is common for someone in leadership to need to step into operations and service delivery while you find a qualified replacement. Instead, can you cross-train individuals so you have backup for these roles so you are prepared when a staff member leaves and you have time to look for a replacement?
SureImpact provides the data collection and impact reporting infrastructure to meet the unique needs of social-good organizations as we work to achieve our organization’s mission. SureImpact’s simple and collaborative case management and outcome tracking tools are designed to help manage, measure, and communicate our social impact. This ensures we have impact data available in real time for grant applications, strategic planning, and stakeholder communication, without the burden of doing everything manually.
To learn more best practices, here are some video resources: