A Guided Walk For Leaders

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By Ian Sampson

A few months ago I published an e-book entitled: “Misleading Conduct.” It is about the dreadful things that poor leaders do to their people in organisations. If you are a subscriber to our Experientia newsletter you may have been sent a copy with our compliments.

As with any work that describes something that doesn’t work, some readers have asked what good leaders actually do.

While the litany of poor leadership behaviours is long, the essence of leadership seems quite simple.

However you wouldn’t know that if you read all the material on the internet that has been written on the subject. As the old saying goes, and it applies aptly to leadership:  “when all is said and done, more will be said than done!” 

That is not an approach which we favour. We at Cause & Effective stand for building great leaders and great leadership in the “for cause” sector.

My working definition of a good leader is “one who guides and influences others to safely accomplish shared goals that would otherwise be unachievable.”

A guide is one who knows the terrain, or at the very least has good map reading skills. The guide knows the destination, the lay of the land, the dangers to be managed and the objective. Guiding leaders usually lead forward, even if returning over ground previously covered. They often lead from the front but not always.

Good leaders influence others. Their actions and words encourage support from their followers. Safety is paramount in leadership. Good leaders know the risks and manage them for success. Good leaders accomplish objectives. They always move the action towards the goal.They help followers achieve things that they could not achieve by themselves.

 Are you a good leader?

If you would like to discuss …..

  • how to be a better guide,
  • how to increase your personal and leadership effectiveness,
  • how to build safety for others into everything you do,
  • how to increase an achievement focus for yourself and your team and
  • how to accomplish otherwise unachievable objectives

……. please contact us.

We are currently designing a one day ”guided walk” for leaders who want to build their personal effectiveness. Participants get to identify good leadership practices and develop a plan for their own leadership going forward.

If you want to build your leadership strength as an individual leader we can support you with one-on one advisory work and coaching. If you want to work with your team on building leadership capability we can support you in a variety of ways that are designed for your specific needs.

 Ian is a Cause & Effective Associate. He is a Strategic Advisor to Boards, a Leadership Coach and a Facilitator of our Powerful Leadership in Action Program . He can be contacted here

 

 

 

 

Answer a Question With a Question?

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By Joe Moore

One of the challenges for leaders and managers is making the daily grind so interesting and constructive that no one can wait to get to work! The challenge is tough – consider that many of the tasks performed in your organisation are also performed in all organisations.  A deadline is a deadline, customers are customers, reports are reports, financial reports, meetings, and we all get to experience these.

Estimates vary – what is your experience of the places where you have worked? Some say that 90% of what an organisation does is common to all organisations. Few of us get up early to go to work to be the same as everyone else though. Few organisations find that “coming here to do what 90% of all organisations do” is a useful concept in winning employer of choice.

It’s in the daily grind of our jobs where we most need to find ways to look forward to coming to work, to be energetic, and alert. Are there opportunities to improve, develop and learn in the day-to-day?

One of the things leaders and managers can do to breathe more energy and development into the day-to-day is to stop answering so many employee questions.

Just because someone asks you a question does not mean you have to answer it. It’s fine to answer a question with a question. Let’s face it – most of the questions your employees ask you are questions to which they know, or could figure out, the answers themselves. When you answer one of these questions, you are meddling.

You are meddling with employee energy and development. Look at it this way – every time you solve a problem for your employees that they could solve for themselves – you are robbing them of the opportunity to learn something, to feel progress, and to feel a little bit more alive.

Sometimes – many times – it is more helpful to answer a question with an open question and listen to the answers. When the person stops talking, you might feel their answer is finished – just pause – they will probably come up with another answer or idea.

Questions like:

  • What are you thinking?
  • How do you see it?
  • What if?
  • How would you get this done?
  • What’s a good reason for doing that?
  • What do you think you’ll do?
  • What do you think will happen?

This challenge asks you to move away from concentrating on having answers and asks you instead to focus on asking a question or two.

Build life into the day-to-day at work by building in lots of opportunities for employees to solve problems and find answers to the majority of their questions – themselves.

Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore & Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact him here

When Reviewing Performance First Find a Mirror

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By Chris Gandy

An area of leadership most of us seem to struggle with is objectively and constructively reviewing the performance of others. When annual performance review time comes around all of sudden our calendar becomes jammed. We put off and reschedule those difficult one on ones. And when it inevitably occurs we often dodge and weave and skirt around the major issues.

There are a number of reasons for this generally less than satisfactory situation not the least being, that as a group,  not for profit leaders aren’t real good at asking tough questions.

Nell Edgington wrote an interesting article on this where she argues that to be a truly effective not for profit leader we need to regularly ask some pretty hard-hitting questions of ourselves and suggests these key questions for starters:

  1. Am I Leading or Managing?
    A fundamental question! As Nell says “A manager shuffles resources around, waits to be told what to do, and focuses on checking things off her list. But a leader crafts a larger vision of her organisation, articulates what he non-profit is trying to accomplish  and then marshals all the resources at her disposal ..toward that vision”.
  2. How Can I Address My Weaknesses? 
    Good leaders know the areas where they are not up to scratch and do something about it. They hire a coach or strategically recruit a person to fill the skill gap.
  3. Am I Selling Myself (and My Nonprofit) Short?
    Do you whine and moan about this and that and tolerate second best or fight for what your Cause really needs? Effective leaders stand up for themselves and their organisation and demand what is needed to properly deliver on this mission.
  4. Which Other Leaders Should I Align With?
    Am I a lone voice in the wilderness or effectively networked with other leaders and influencers impacting the field?
  5. Am I Still The Right Person for The Job?
    A toughy but it has to be asked. Do you still have the skills and enthusiasm to take the organisation to where it needs to go?  If not are you doing the right thing by your Cause and yourself by clinging on?

If you are not regularly asking yourself whether you are doing the best you can for your Cause it is difficult to ask others the same question. And the more often you look in the mirror and challenge yourself on these issues the easier your next round of performance reviews will become.

About Chris:  Chris Gandy is the founder and a director of Cause and Effective – an organisation dedicated to assisting cause-based organisations maximise their social impact through permanent and contingent resourcing

 

In An Amalgamation, Remove Price And What Are You Left With?

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By Steve Dixon

A fundamental prerequisite to successfully amalgamating two Not-For-Profits (NFP) is trust.

Attempting to combine any two NFP’s is hard enough at the best of times; doing so without building trust usually engenders an unhappy outcome.

Why?

A distinguishing feature of NFP Amalgamations is the absence of price.  Remove the driving market force of price and replace it with ego and ideology and you are one big step closer to understanding the complexities of NFP Amalgamations. So to extrapolate by analogy,  just as a favourable price in a profit driven transaction can go a long way towards appeasing shareholders or vindicating Directors, so too can trust in the NFP world go a long way towards appeasing stakeholders or validating the decisions of Committee Members.

Our society abandoned arranged marriages long ago. Relationships take time to build if they are likely to succeed. NFP leaders who think they can negotiate Amalgamations without building relationships are not giving potentially valuable transactions their just desserts. In essence, an amalgamation in the community sector is 10% process and 90% people; trust is fundamental to winning the hearts and minds of those who are the key to successful amalgamation transactions.

So how does one build trust in such negotiations?  Stay tuned.

About Steve: Steve Dixon is a Cause & Effective Associate who specialises in assisting organisations with Amalgamation Transactions and Strategic Development initiatives

There Is Seldom A Happy Ending To a Benign Neglect Story

13826059_sBy Chris Gandy

Alf was pottering in his front yard when I drove by so I stopped for a chat. I commented how good his garden looked coming out of winter and he responded:

“Its all the result of benign neglect mate, and you should be an expert at that having worked for not for profits”

It was a typical cryptic Alf remark and I let it fly by and, as we inevitably do, moved on to the weather.

That evening as I was clearing my emails I came across a new post by Laura Otten expressing her frustration with Not For Profit Boards who seem to be attempting to turn benign neglect into an art form.

Twice in one day for some spooky reason two totally disconnected people on opposite sides of the earth were talking to me about benign neglect AND in the context of the not for profit sector. My interest was sparked!

So what is this Benign Neglect?

As you may or may not know, the term  seems to have been coined in the late 1960’s by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. As a staff member of the Nixon Administration at the time, Moynihan proposed a policy of “benign neglect” to deal with the racial tensions being experienced in the US. The proposition being that if the Administration stopped giving the issue oxygen by focussing on it, it would at best resolve itself and at worst not deteriorate any further.

From that point the term seems to be broadly used to describe an attitude or policy of non-interference or neglect of a situation, which may have a more beneficial effect than assuming responsibility.

So we are talking about conscious well-intentioned neglect. Sound familiar?

While I can sympathise with the Board scenarios described by Laura, regrettably in this country where benign neglect is in full bloom is in the area of people management.

Quite frankly as a sector we seem to have an aversion to dealing with “difficult people” and have perfected a standard list of excuses to justify turning a blind eye to such matters

  • We are here to be kind to people
  • X has a heart of gold
  • Lets understand our pay rates are low
  • X is having problems at home, they will come good
  • Our clients absolutely adore X
  • We operate in a small community, if we take action with X it will effect our reputation.
  • We have so much going on at the moment we just can’t deal with another crisis.
  • X wont find another job if we dismiss her/him

So the problem festers and festers because there is seldom a happy ending to a benign neglect story.  Morale drops, service delivery is impacted, contracts placed in jeopardy, reputation is tarnished.

As leaders we are charged with the responsibility of improving situations. Not maintaining the status quo. By ignoring the problem, crossing our fingers and hoping things wont get any worse serves to improve nothing. Which is where Moynihan’s proposal falls down.

Unlike Alf’s garden, a not for profit is no place for well intentioned neglect.

About Chris:  Chris Gandy is the founder and a director of Cause and Effective – an organisation dedicated to assisting cause-based organisations maximise their social impact through permanent and contingent resourcing

The Ultimate Gift

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By Patrick McFadden

Dignity is more important than riches. Everyone needs a certain amount of money to live. But once we have that amount, what we crave and want is dignity. Given a choice between dignity and “more” (wealth, riches, and material possessions) most people choose dignity.

Respect matters. Respect in all things, for your employees, co-workers, and the people your organisation serves. The ultimate gift you can give, the one that will repay you today and tomorrow and heal our world , is that gift. The gift of connection, the gift of art, the gift of love, and the gift of dignity.

About Patrick: Patrick McFadden is a Cause & Effective Associate. He is the marketing expert to call when you want social impact … not just words. He is also an advisor and featured marketing contributor to American Express Open Forum and has been named a marketing thought leader for small organisations. He is available to help make your Cause remarkable.

Fighting the Flow

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By Attila Ovari

This morning as I prepared myself for the office I got thinking about flow. One definition of flow is “move steadily and continuously in a current or stream.” The flow I am referring to is that sense of everything heading in the one direction in your life. The question that I have been asking myself today is am I fighting the flow?

When we look at water, it heads from high points in the mountains down to the sea. Just as we do not imagine that water flows uphill, why is it that we expect to fight the flow in our lives? Yes, I agree that we control the destiny of our lives, so how does that work with the concept of flow? I think that martial arts holds the key to this question.

In martial arts when you block a punch, you are not necessarily stop the punch, but instead you deflect the punch. You use the opponent’s energy and flow to move towards your desired outcomes. So in fact you are using the flow and energy that exists and not fighting it. Going back to our water example, this can be seen in the way we have build dams and water infrastructure to use the flow to our advantage.

So, how does this impact on my life…. I am going to spend less time fighting the flow and more time using the flow to lead my life in my desired direction….

  •  Think back over the last week, are you fighting the flow or using the flow?
  • What is one thing that you can do today to use the flow better?
  • How can you take advantage of the flow in your life

About Attila : Attila Ovari is a Cause & Effective Associate. He passionate about life and thrives on empowering others, in particular when it comes to leadership. Contact Attila here.

 

 

 

So You Want To Go On A Course?

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By Sara Harrup

Learning has changed. Ten years ago if you wanted to learn something new you went to university, a private college or TAFE, or booked yourself into a short course. You might have dabbled in a bit of online learning, depending on the size of your organisation and its emphasis on staff development. You may have wandered down to a bookstore and browsed through their educational books to see if anything fit with your aspirations. You might have held a magazine subscription.

Things have changed dramatically in the last ten years. Thanks to the prevalence of the handheld device, the smartphone and tablet, learning has become a deeply embedded and personal experience which is completely responsive to the needs of the learner. Entire university courses can be found on social media platforms like YouTube and iTunes. There are webinars to access, blogs to subscribe to, online learning courses to engage in, videos to watch, podcasts to listen to and plain and simple answers to just about any question you want to ask courtesy of Google and other search engines.

You can learn anywhere! You learn about what interests you and what will be of use to you. You often learn in small chunks which fit well with your attention span. Your learning is completely self-directed. It’s fantastic! The learning is meaningful so it sticks and becomes something you can try out during the course of your work. The best part is the vast majority of it is free or low cost.

With the changes in how, where and why we learn, it’s interesting to consider whether the workplace has kept up. Once upon a time, if you were lucky to work for an organisation that had a learning and development budget, you found a course you were interested in, proved to your manager that it would directly improve the work you were doing, got a signature and off you went. You came back from a few days away full of praise for the course and possibly applied 2% of it, got caught up back in the day to day grind of work and promptly forgot the other 98%.

Many organisations still feel this is the only type of legitimate learning and that engaging in our modern way of self-directed education is not appropriate. Large organisations that sport a learning and organisational development department dedicated to the ongoing development of staff are fortunate to espouse learning in their culture. Many of the small organisations seem to be falling more and more behind.

So what does an organisation truly committed to flexible and responsive learning and development look like? Here are a few cues!

  1. Each staff member is enabled to identify learning opportunities which are responsive to their needs.
  2. No one is “sent” on a course to fix issues that could be dealt with by appropriate in house mentoring, coaching and performance management.
  3. There is a quiet and private space dedicated to learning with a webinar enabled computer and a tablet or IPad.
  4. Staff are allowed to spend regular time engaging in webinars, android and iPad applications, online learning, podcasts, reading online journals and researching new subject matter.
  5. Value is placed on peer to peer learning. Even if an organization only has a handful of staff, the collective knowledge and expertise can be harnessed and shared in a formal and informal way. Peer to peer learning can be formal or informal.
  6. Learning does not stop the further up the corporate ladder you go. The CEO or senior executive team can be seen engaging in learning as often as the other staff. Learning is considered a highly legitimate use of time.
  7. The staff’s learning may be unstructured or there may be themes. For example, if the organization is currently reviewing its customer relationship management processes, staff may focus their efforts on researching current processes and data management.
  8. The organisation has a “no blame” policy. That is, if an error is made, the focus is on taking any corrective action needed and learning from the error, but not blaming individuals. This sort of culture can promote transparency around mistakes, where people are open and actively report errors, as there is no fear of recrimination. It’s not uncommon to see this policy in airlines where hiding mistakes could lead to safety issues for the public.

If you are part of a small organisation that has fallen behind, you could hold a meeting and discuss your learning strategy, create a working group and a project plan. You might get something off the ground sometime in the next year. Or…you could just start to dabble. Keep it informal at first. Consider it a trial. See whether the dabbling has any impact and then formalize it if you need to.

About Sara: Sara Harrup is a Cause & Effective Associate and a highly experienced not for profit Senior Executive and Board Member.

If Only I Knew Then What I Know Now

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By Chris Gandy

How often do you find yourself thinking something like: “If only I knew then what I know now”?

I seem to be thinking that quite a bit lately, particularly as Cause & Effective grows and we assist more and more Causes to realise the benefits of contingent resourcing.

During my CEO days, our organisation, like all others, had its share of thorny problems. And typically we had a hierarchy of responses which went something like this:

  1. Let’s suck it up and try to wing it ourselves. This was by far the cheapest response but not necessarily the most effect. Sure I had the good fortune of working with some highly talented people but they were also flat-out on day-to-day operational matters. Pulling people off-line to deal with a big issue meant we were often robbing Peta and pay Pauline! One problem may have been solved but other opened up on other fronts.
  2. The Chairman knows a retired Bank Manager through Rotary and he might be able to help. Again a relatively cheap option but often created more problems than it solved. And how do we tell the person thanks but no thanks especially when they have delayed that holiday just to help us?  
  3. What about Jane? She did a reasonable consulting job for us last time. We know this isn’t quite in her area but she’s pleasant, knows the organisation and doesn’t charge the earth. For some reason I always felt this option tended to give us about 75% of the solution. Somehow they missed it by this much!
  4. Ask for a quote from the big end of town. You will be familiar with this scenario – you almost go into cardiac arrest when reading the proposal. Go straight to Plan B which is to drastically review the scope. Admittedly often the Consulting Company tries to come to the party by assigning a relatively junior member of staff to the project to reduce costs. In the end you either gulp and pay an exorbitant fee or decide to go back to your first option and do it in-house.

In fondly reflecting on each of these scenarios that I have been through more than once during my working life I can’t help but think our Cause would have significantly benefited if we knew how to quickly find and engage affordable subject matter experts to help us deal with these problems. You see:

I now know…….

  • All manner of fantastic subject matter experts exist. And through changes in workforce patterns and advances in technology this pool is growing wider and deeper.
  • Contingent resourcing providers like Cause & Effective are making it easier to quickly find the right expert for your particular need.
  • These experts are highly affordable. There are two main reasons for this. One is the competition between the experts themselves which is serving to rein in hourly and daily rates. The second is less obvious and relates to time on a task. Today time is money and what we tend to find is that true subject matter experts take much less time to complete a task than the more generalist consultants we may have used in the past.

… I only wish I knew it then!

About Chris:  Chris Gandy is the founder and a director of Cause and Effective – an organisation dedicated to assisting cause-based organisations maximise their social impact through permanent and contingent resourcing

Can Your Organisation Tell a Story to Save Itself?

By Dennis Fischman

scheherezadeHave you heard the tale of Scheherazade? She was a noble lady who married the king of Arabia.  Her new husband had a grim habit: marrying and killing off a wife every night. Scheherazade’s  beauty couldn’t save her, but her stories did. Night after night, she told him one fascinating story after another, always ending with a teaser or a cliffhanger.  The king kept her alive another day…to hear the end of the story. After 1001 nights, he had fallen in love with her and remained faithful the rest of his days.We all love stories–but many not for profit organisations can’t tell their stories to save themselves.  Is yours one of them?  Here’s how to become the Scheherazade of cause-based organisations.

Six stories your nonprofit should tell

Andy Goodman believes there are six stories every organisation should be ready to tell.

  1. The nature of our challenge story: This story describes the problem that you are trying to address with your programs/services. “Too often, we express this as a number,” warns Goodman.
  2. The creation story: This is the “how we started” story. “It’s primarily for internal use,” Goodman says, “but I think everybody who works in an organisation should know it.”
  3. The emblematic success story: This story shares your unique approach and why it works.
  4. The values story: These are the stories through which your organisation shows how it lives out its core values
  5. The striving to improve story: This story is for internal use and says “sometimes we fall short, sometimes we outright fail, but we always learn from our mistakes and do better next time,” Goodman says.
  6. The where we are going story: This is a story that says if your organisation does its job right, this is what it will look like in five to 10 years.

Some of these stories are for your stakeholders.  Some are for your Board, staff, and volunteers.  All of them say more about your organisation than any mission statement or set of numbers can do alone.

Put it in writing

Sometimes you’ll tell your story in person, or on video, or through graphics.  Often, you’ll tell it in writing.  When you do, heed these 10 Tips for Writing Your Nonprofit Story from Network for Good.  I particularly like #7!

Effectively assisting people doing good to do it even better

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