Being An Excellent Leader

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There is no fixed definition of excellence in leadership, but we all know it when we see it; when we feel it.

There is a different skill set required in managing a project, than there is in leading the team and we all manage and lead in some capacity – whether it’s our children, our family, our community, or our workplace.

We all influence others.

This opens up a conundrum for us – what kind of leaders are we? What is the trail of afterthought we leave behind? Do we inspire people? Would we challenge people to be more than even ourselves?

What kind of leader do we want to be?

In knowing where we are, and knowing where we want to be as a leader – how do we walk towards it in a real, experiential, practical manner -using our own lives as the template for our own improvement?

Large corporates seek to build capacity as a leader by assessing their employees who are judged to be “high potential.” High potential leaders have a suite of leadership experiences, competencies, values and fit with their organization. They identify your specific areas for development and act to build your capacity (Study by Aon Hewitt).

Not all of us work for an organization where we are a good fit. Not all of us will be assessed as high potential and not all of us work well in this environment of support; but the beauty of leadership is that we do not need to be any of these things all the time – we only need to the right person in the moment and practice. Anyone can do that if they are willing to step forward to create change.

Leaders who want to build their total performance will be seeking opportunities to develop and practice their leadership in their lives. Being a leader occurs one moment at a time – sometimes we lead and sometimes we follow. We all build our mastery of leadership in the tapestry of life and our strength as a leader is defined by how we weather all moments in our lives. By playing 100% in life, we hone our leadership skills, and hopefully we evolve into the leader we hoped we would be.

At The Leadership Foundation, we support you to answer these questions for yourself, and provide opportunities for you to be exposed to leadership across a smorgasbord of professions. We create an environment where leaders can reflect on their leadership moments and explore their leadership style. From there, we can build our personal resilience and confidence as a leader, and better our performance as a leader.
We help people to understand the people that follow them, so that they can help create the leaders of tomorrow.

We welcome all new attendees, so if you are a ….

  • person newly appointed to a leadership role and want to learn how to be more effective
  • captain of a sporting, project or work team
  • board member
  • person who wants to influence a difficult situation or relationship
  • new or experienced manager
  • recent graduate of any kind of program
  • community organisation office bearer
  • leader who wants to develop a group of colleagues
  • person who has just been nominated as being high potential ….

…..please join us at one of our events.

By Ian Sampson – Ian is a Cause & Effective Associate and Executive Chair of The Leadership Foundation. The Foundation aims to create opportunities and an environment where you can hold yourself to account and provides the mechanisms and time to reflect on who you are, why you choose to lead, and what matters to you most. 

 

The One Way to Get Donors to Give Again and Again

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Does your nonprofit live and die by donations? Chances are you’re dying.

You work so hard to get a donation, especially at the end of the year. By next year, however, more than half those donors–59%–will disappear. You will never hear from them again.

It’s even worse with new donors. Three-quarters of them never repeat.

This is a race nonprofits can’t win.  That’s why your nonprofit will die, maybe even in 2016 …unless you find a way to make donors want to give to you again and again.

Fortunately, there is a way.

How can you increase the chance that a person who gave once will give again?

People give their first gift to your organization for a variety of quirky reasons. When they  continue to give, it’s for one reason: because they have come to know, like, and trust you.

People give when you build a relationship with them, and the key to that relationship is great communication.

Great communication begins with the thank-you letter, but it doesn’t end there. A newsletter is a good thing, too, but a newsletter full of what’s happening inside your organization will do nothing to keep your donors.

So what kind of communication does work? A June 2014 survey by nonprofit technology research firm Software Advice found that sixty percent of donors want impact stories to see how their first donation is making a difference.”You must find, recognize, collect, and share those stories in all your communications.

Become a storytelling nonprofit

It takes a team of people to collect and tell your stories.

  1. People with day-to-day experience. They could be your direct service staff or volunteers, your Board members, your customers or clients. Develop them as sources, so they look out for stories you can tell.
  2. Writers. Someone who can take other people’s words and make them sing in print is essential to your team.
  3. Photographers/videographers. A picture may not be worth a thousand words. It may, however, make all the words you write more meaningful and memorable.
  4. Artists. Sometimes a good graphic is more powerful than a photo (and often, easier to produce when you need it).
  5. Tech people. Because your newsletter, blog, email, Facebook post, or video is no good if nobody sees it! Someone has to keep the system up and running and figure out the glitches as they occur.
  6. Editor. You need a consistent tone to your communications, and they must appear regularly so your audience expects them. Put one person in charge.

Get expert help

Most of all, what you need is someone who will look at your organization with the eyes of a donor. It’s all too easy to fall back into “We held this event” or “We hired this new person”–but that’s not what your donors want!

A communications consultant can help you recognize and shape the stories your donors want to hear. There are ways your organization can afford a consultant, even if you don’t have one in the budget yet. And the investment is worth it.

Your donors are waiting to hear what difference their donations are making. They won’t wait forever. Get the help you need to make sure they give again and again.

By Dennis Fishman – Dennis is a Cause and Effective Associate Cause and Effective Associate who helps not for profits gain loyal friends through their communications.

Overstaying Your Usefulness

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Let me tell you about my little mate Malcolm.

Malcolm is a Dorper Ram. He has been our primary stud ram for the past three seasons and has been a diligent worker, siring over 300 offspring over his time with us.

Clearly he has been a very productive asset for our farm. But here’s the problem. Malcolm has reached his “use by date” as our current breeding stock almost entirely consists of Malcolm’s daughters.

The harsh reality for Malcolm is that he is no longer useful.

Thinking of Malcolm I reflected the same situation happens with our careers. We aspire to and are recruited into a role. We do it well for a number of years. We heroically cope with the constant changes that confront us in the work place. But eventually there comes a point where we can’t or don’t want to continue changing. There may be  motivational, physical or competency factors relating to this. But the undeniable reality is that we are beginning to overstay our usefulness.

It happens to us all and there is little point fighting the inevitable. Once we are no longer useful the way we used to be our choices are clear –  we have to adapt and become useful in a different way, or useful somewhere else in the same way.

In Malcolm’s case he could have become useful again as a lamb roast. Fortunately, for him, he is now doing his thing on another farm.

By Chris Gandy – Chris is a Director of Cause & Effective. He specialises is helping NFP Boards find the right CEO for their organisations

 

 

Small Change

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Sometimes when we are considering making a change at work or outside work we struggle. Some of the steps and tasks towards making the change seem so minor we skip them.

One more chocolate – what difference could one make to our healthy living objective? We’ve decided to focus at our team meetings and not email during them, we slip on the avenue of good intentions. Surely we say to ourselves – it’s just a little thing – email, I can do that and listen at the same time.

Many of the goals, resolutions, changes people make are impressive, lofty and ambitious. Not all the steps along the way to make those changes successful are equally impressive, big or ambitious.

The quality of our relationships changes one conversation at a time, one feeling not expressed angrily at a time. Financial success does involve taking care of small change. A business entrepreneur makes many small changes in the way she feels, thinks about, and acts on opportunities. While achieving a lofty ambition – becoming a successful entrepreneur – is more than the sum of the steps along the way – many of the changes along the way were small.

Here’s a tip to help us take those seemingly small steps.

Whatever your goal is – you are not there yet. You have been thinking about the goal and considering what steps to take to achieve it. Maybe you are talking to others, reading stories of other’s experiences in pursuing similar goals.

One of the things we can learn from the field of Appreciative Inquiry is to focus on the positive. Let’s take that idea a little further.

Set aside some time to recall when you achieved a goal, a time when you were successful. Mull over how that felt. Breathe life into that memory and relive how it felt, remember how wide your smile was, how you felt you could do anything?

Now – bring that vivid experience back to life in the future, when you have achieved the goal you have now set for yourself. How will it feel to be introduced on stage as a successful business entrepreneur? See how big your smile is; listen to your heart beat as the facilitator lists your achievements, how confident you sound when you talk. How does it feel to see the impact you are making on the lives of people who make your product, who buy your product?

As you imagine future success you are giving life to your hopes and inspiring a new way of looking at yourself. You create a new image of yourself as you see the value of taking many small steps to achieve your big goal.

I worked with a woman who dreamed of starting literacy programs for older women failed by our education system. Her dream was that she would hear a grandmother say that now she could read stories to her grandchildren – rather than make up stories as she pretended to read from the kids’ books. These grandmothers felt deep embarrassment when their grandchildren mastered reading and knew their grandmother had not – Coral’s dream was that the women she taught would no longer have to feel that way.

Imagining hearing that from grandmothers kept her going as she sought funds, space, desks, tutors – and you can imagine the list of naysayers. She used to say “I can only think well of myself if I can bring my expertise of how to teach adults to women who never got the chance they needed.”

A powerful thing is our imagination. Whenever you feel that a step towards achieving whatever goal you have is too small to take, ask yourself –

  • Will I feel good about myself if I achieve my goal?
  • Am I really too busy to do this?
  • Why am I not taking this step?
  • Is this really not me?
  • Is this really the best thing I could be doing?
  • Will I feel stronger and more confident if I take this step?

Small change? No change too small.

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

Taking Inspiration From Yesterday

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Invariably at this time of year as we catch-up with family and friends, conversation at some point focuses on the year just passed and various prognostications for the one ahead. Not sure about your circle, but those around me seemed to feel 2015 was a pretty lousy year.

I must admit, they appear to have a case when you consider the terrorist attacks around the world, including our own backyard; the wave of humanity attempting to escape Syria and over war zones; a sluggish economy with a burgeoning deficit; yet another Prime Minister asking us to trust them; and seemingly more erratic weather systems – I could go on.

Listening to all this gloom and doom one would think the world is going backwards in a handcart. And, unfortunately, the not for profit sector is seen by some as being a contributor to the current sorry state of affairs. We a constantly bombarded by articles and commentaries from so called experts that eagerly list the sector’s shortcomings. Each failing then being followed by a call to adopt a bright new approach that will solve all the sector’s problems.

Honestly, in the midst of this depressing talk, I was thinking of throwing in the towel and wandering off into the bush. And I may have just done that had I not come across an article from Charles Kenny in The Atlantic .

Charles has been trawling through data, mainly from UN sources, that makes you stop in your tracks. The article is well worth reading when you have the time but the main conclusion to be drawn from the facts provided is that…

“2015 was the best year in history for the average human being to be alive”.

To support his claim Kenny cites a host of data that actually paints a picture of meaningful progress being made by a range of Causes which has resulted in decreasing rates of child mortality to the expansion of civil and political rights to eradication of a number of diseases.

Hold the presses! Despite what we are being told, as a planet we are making real headway on  a whole range of social issues.

Now, of course, this brighter than expected picture doesn’t mean we should relax in our efforts to achieve positive social change – so many battles are yet to be won. And creativity and innovation will continue to be a key to future progress. By the same token, however,  it would we equally fallacious to ignore what has worked in the past and blindly replace it with a shiny new, and probably untested, model. 

So as our 2016 journey begins we could do well by heeding the advice of Phil Buchanan who implores the sector to….

…learn — and take inspiration — from that progress as we seek to change today and tomorrow. It is the progress we have made that should give us hope that, indeed, this year can be better than the last.

I am now looking at 2016 with renewed optimism, what about you?

By Chris Gandy – Founder of Cause & Effective

 

 

 

Avoiding That Sinking Feeling

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I visited  Titanic – The Exhibition recently – you may have caught it when it was in your part of the world.

While the exhibition was quite a moving experience, I couldn’t help but think that the people in leadership positionsthe White Star Line (WSL) Board and their faithful servant Capt. Edward J Smith – who sent the ship out on its ill fated maiden voyage, have a lot to answer for.  More to the point, someone like me shouldn’t be standing there 103 years later reading through the names of the 1514 people who perished on that dark April night.

What went wrong? Well, fundamentally the leadership group let technology get ahead of them and didn’t follow basic governance processes. 

One hundred years ago a fortune was to made from plying people and things back and forth between Europe and the US by sea. So shipping companies would throw big dollars at larger, faster and grander ships.

The WSL was no exception and went for the top end of the market and concentrated of what would appeal to this demographic – speed, opulence and, of all things, safety. To get this group’s attention,  they decided to build the biggest, most luxurious, fastest, technologically  advanced and safest liner the world had seen. To beat all others it had a system of water tight compartments enabling them to claim that the Titanic was UNSINKABLE.

Strategically it looked like the WSL had made a brilliant move. And they didn’t skimp on the resources, investing over $400 million in today’s dollars.

But as the plan became a reality the Board  stepped beyond the bounds of good governance – they got involved in operational matters. For instance, they ordered that lifeboats be removed from the First Class deck so the millionaire passengers would have more space to promenade – got to keep the customers happy at all costs. Also the Managing Director of the WSL, J.Bruce Ismay, was handed a radio message while on the voyage from another ship in the area warning of ice flows ahead which he screwed up and placed in his pocket – can’t set a speed record if we slow down, besides we are unsinkable.

Capt Smith, of course was as culpable as the Board. He  had a long and very safe history with the WSL. But with this he seems to have develop complacency and an almost abdication to technology. In fact a few years before the Titanic was launched he is quoted as saying:

“I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that”

This blind faith in technology plus a total subservience to the Board seems to have caused Capt. Smith to not only agree to removing the life boats, but he only bothered to ensure that one officer and four crew members were trained on how to deploy the remaining lifeboats and he allowed the ice lookouts that to man their stations without the aid of binoculars.

Seems to me that a failure to understand that state of the art technology doesn’t replace  good leadership lead to this calamity. There was an air of arrogance which caused people and processes to be overlooked. Leaders who follow in WSL’s footsteps will surely be placing their organisations at the risk of similar icebergs.

As an ironic postscript: Ismay made it aboard one of the first life boats and lived till 1937. Capt. Smith went down with his ship.

By Chris Gandy – Founder and a Director of Cause & Effective

 

 

 

Is Your Team Missing the Foundations of Great Teamwork?

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Imagine you are the leader of a team where occasional blaming and backstabbing are the norm. Conflicts are frequent and they don’t always result in a healthy outcome. Occasionally conflict has quite a significant impact on your team’s productivity.

You want to bring out the best in your people but your efforts don’t seem to be working. In fact there are one or two people on your team who you’re watching for underperformance. You have some great people but a couple of personalities present challenges that you need to deal with.

Your role can take the form of police person and judge but you would prefer to be a coach and guide to your team. Unsurprisingly, your team doesn’t handle change very well at all.

If you identify with this scenario then you’re in a normal team. You are a typical manager with great intentions and a mixed team of diverse people with varying attitudes, skills and behaviours.

Most teams are missing the foundations of great teamwork. While great leaders are a fantastic asset for teams, it is a mistake to think that leaders alone create fantastic teamwork – team members can play a huge part in making a team effective. Neither are great teams only the result of exceptional individuals working together. Great teamwork is possible with a few strong foundations in place.

Teamwork happens when people work together but most professionals have limited skills in working together with other people as part of a team. Teams rarely focus on the foundations of great teamwork: conflict resolution, collaboration and information flow. Teams that work together to build these foundations build trust and accountability. They deliver great results while creating an enjoyable experience of work.

Conflict Resolution

We often think of conflict as an extreme scenario. In reality, personal and occupational differences need to be faced on a daily basis. When team members have the know-how to communicate non-aggressively, they cause less conflict. Personality differences are mediated. Turf wars are held politely. Opposing interests can be resolved without confrontation. Feedback can be given clearly and respectfully, without breaking trust. It is often advisable to also have an agreed conflict resolution mechanism in place for when individual efforts fail.

Collaboration

Teams and team members often complain that collaboration is lacking. Collaboration is a process of sharing skills and knowledge to arrive at a joint outcome. It requires some attention to achieve the best from it.

Collaboration depends on clarity around a) the anticipated joint outcome b) individual’s roles and capabilities and c) the decision-making process. With these foundations in place, each person’s contribution can be maximised and respected, meetings can proceed effectively and efficiently and team members can be empowered to make decisions within their remit.

Information Flow

Teams usually evolve organically, without a specific focus on the information flowing in and out. Teams can sometimes need support to create the right systems and use the right tools that will help information to flow between team members. When information flow is supported, team members can trust that they will have access to the information they need to do their job. They can also work well virtually, for example by working from home.

Great teams are created when leaders and individuals work together to focus on building a strong teamwork capability. Leaders and team members can contribute a lot individually but great teamwork results from focusing jointly on how to work together. Leaders and individuals can both enjoy more satisfying careers by building their teams’ teamwork capability.

Great teamwork is a key to work that delivers results and achieves well-being at work. It comes from strong conflict resolution, collaboration and information flow. Without this focus, teams will continue to experience the ‘normal’ dysfunction that steals both results and motivation.

By Nina Sochon. Nina is a Cause & Effective Associate and the CEO of Transformed Teams, a consultancy creating incredibly successful professional teams. Sign up to receive your free Team Health Check for Conventional and Virtual Teams – a comprehensive, commonsense tool.

 

It Takes Guts

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Recently I was at my children’s school for their assembly. Before they introduced the elected Student Representative Council (SRC) members for 2016 the principal congratulated all who nominated. He congratulated all the students who had put their names forward. It takes guts to put yourself out their.

It does take guts, it does take courage. People nominate themselves for representative roles for the most part to make a positive difference in the community. When people nominate for election they are opening up themselves to the community. They are saying that I want to make a difference and then it is up to the community to support them or not.

In the end most nominees do not get elected in elections, however they should be congratulated for their efforts in making a difference. Their nomination has ensured that democracy works. So remember that in a democracy people that put themselves forward for election have courage and are wanting to make a positive difference.

May your passions drive you and your dreams lead you to fulfilling your life’s destiny.

By Attila Ovari : Attila is a Cause & Effective Associate. His mission is to help people become more effective leaders.

The View From a Diminishing Window

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Suppose you learned you were developing Alzheimer’s disease. What would you do? Would you take a long-delayed vacation? Spend your time hoping for a cure?

What Mitch Evich did was start a blog.

The Diminishing Window is Evich’s place to explore the meaning of life. Since August 2015, he has written on a variety of topics, from whether green tea and red wine can help your memory to how he feels, and should feel, knowing he has a disease for which there is no cure.

Evich has a distinctive outlook. You could tell it was him and not me, for instance, writing about the raw emotional power of opera, the beauty of cemeteries, and the ways that Ivan Ilych and Gregor Samsa both comment on illness and the attitudes of the well toward the sick.

It’s not the choice of topics that moves me but his voice. He writes like a man who’s savoring things on his tongue, whether they’re bitter or sweet. He’s knowledgeable about history and literature, and yet he’s always personal. A blog entry that starts with novelist Richard Ford and goes on to echo Elisabeth Kubler-Ross arrives at last at this reflection:

My dad died in 2004, when I was forty-two, and I pretty much took it for granted that, barring some terrible accident, I too would live into old age. But it is always foolish to assume that one is exempt from bad luck.

I learned about Evich’s blog because he is a neighbor here in Somerville, Massachusetts. Through the magic of the internet, spanning space and time, I introduce you to him where you live.

By Dennis Fishman – Dennis is a Cause and Effective Associate who helps not for profits win loyal friends through their communications.

Now NFP’s Have Three Options: Merge, Perish or …… Network

For movement to occur every cog needs to play its part

For movement to occur every cog needs to play   its part

 

If we are to listen to some high profile NFP players lately, small to medium cause-based organisations have two options : merge or perish!

All pretty depressing stuff if your organisation is now on this new endangered species list. Even worse if you, a family member or community is reliant on one of these supposedly doomed  organisations.

Maybe it’s just me but have you noticed that these merge or perish apologists tend to be leaders of very large charities or senior bureaucrats. Also they fail to acknowledge there may be other options.

One such alternative which is beginning to show that NFPs can not only survive but thrive is through networking.

Hold the phone, I can hear you saying:

“I am networking all the time – in this group, on that committee, am active on LinkedIn. I am networked out!” 

Yep, more and more good collaboration is happening from this networking – we’re sharing facilities, resources, ideas … whatever. But is all this networking achieving real transformational change in our society? Is it going to help organisations survive in the long term? I, for one, have my doubts.

So why isn’t all of this effort generating more dramatic social change? According to Jane Wei-Skillern, David Ehrichlman, and David Sawyer in the Stanford Social Innovation Review it is about how we network. More specifically, they argue that the sector urgently needs to develop network entrepreneurs – a new breed of leaders whose approach ….

“…expands far beyond the boundaries of their own organisation, supporting peers and partners across sectors to solve the problem. Not surprisingly, the potential of impact increases exponentially when leaders leverage resources of all types – leadership, money, talent – across organisations and sectors toward a common goal.”

These new leaders leave their egos, and those of their organisation, at the door, and set out each day to marshal the necessary resources to deliver true social change. They understand that this is beyond the reach of any one organisation alone and recognise that they and their organisation are but cogs in a much wider mechanism driving social change.

Coming to terms with the fact that one is not the centre of the universe may be difficult for some people and their organisations, but lets not diminish the critical role played by “cogs”. Each needs to be sound and fully functional to allow the entire machine to work. And it is this critical importance to the performance of the whole system that will ensure their continued existence.

As Nell Edington in an excellent post puts it …..

“The network approach involves having the confidence to think there is potentially a larger solution and that you might be part of it”

A further critical trait of network entrepreneurs identified in the SSIR is a genuine desire to achieve maximum impact rather than to promote themselves or their organisations.

They often put the interests of their peers ahead of their own, as “supporting all boats to rise” actually serves the mission best. Network entrepreneurs, for example, often refer potential donors to peers that can better deliver a program or service; they don’t simply seek to maximize their own organization’s budget. When all network participants adhere to this principle, it becomes self-reinforcing; it greases the wheels of current collaborations and opens the doors to future partnerships”.

Of course this type of “servant” or “humble” leadership isn’t new, with philosopher Lao Tzu in the 6th century BC being quoted as saying:

“When the best leader work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”

And finally, if you are having a “pigs might fly” moment after reading this spend five minutes following some of the links in Nell’s post.  Clearly remarkable social change can be achieved, it all depends on how we choose to lead.  

By Chris Gandy – Founder and a Director of Cause & Effective