What to do When Doing This Important Job (or how to survive nonprofit leadership)
Most Nonprofit leaders are picked to be unicorns but what they find out immediately, is that they may be under-resourced and over-promised when taking the position.
Leadership with such a committed pursuit, such as in a nonprofit organization, is not always easy.
How do you get off on the right foot and manage to stay in the game and not be placed on the bench? Try these suggestions adapted from “The Anguish of Leadership” by Jerry Patterson. Patterson’s book was aimed specifically for school superintendents but can easily be modified for nonprofit leaders.
Key activities that will increase your effectiveness as a nonprofit leader.
1. Build a positive relationship with your board
- Meet with individual board members outside regular board meetings to get to know them better
- Ask the board up front what they would like to change and what is necessary that it stays the same.
- Help your board make tough decisions on emotional topics
2. Create a clear understanding of the board and the leaders’ roles
- Have an effective orientation process for all new board members
- Develop training and evaluation processes for your board and leadership
- Use clear and effective communication when conflict arises
3. Build and maintain trust and confidentiality
- Provide annually effective board training on their roles and responsibilities
- Participate in board and leadership team-building activities
- Have clear processes for handling conflict
4. Develop a positive relationship with your community
- Be present in the community in which you serve
- Partner with potential and current stakeholders to address community issues
- Speak well of the community in which you represent
5. Work with and not against those in your care (staff, volunteers, clients, etc.)
- Practices building relationships through trust, honesty, and mutual respect
- Be accountable and hold others accountable
- Teach and train others to use the expected processes required
- Be a role model by not being afraid to get your hands dirty
6. Present the organization in the best possible light
- Design opportunities to highlight the work that your organization does and the impact it makes
- Assist others to accomplish their goals and help them to grow
- Be collaborative to those partners outside of your organization
Leadership with such a committed pursuit, such as in a nonprofit organization, is not always easy. It can take a toll on you if you don’t have the right processes in place or don’t learn from our experiences. Leadership is also a very human experience. It can be incredibly rewarding and painful just as many experiences in this journey we call life.
Learn. Grow. Survive.
Passion and purpose is generally the fuel that makes the leader’s engine go. For leaders, if they can improve their effectiveness in their leadership skills and understand the challenges that lie ahead, they are most likely to have a successful and rewarding career. Focus on doing the job in the most effective manner possible and bring others along with you. You will see that the bonds forged through your will strengthen the organization and its movement towards fulfilling its mission.
Making a positive impact in the lives of others can be the ultimate gain for any worthwhile pursuit. Why not do it the right way and reduce your struggles.