Articles about leadership in non-profit organisations.
Integrated Leadership – Solving complex problems with the power of many
How to solve complex problems with integrated leadership teams that harness the power of many. The world is an increasingly complex place to navigate, especially in the stakeholder heavy NFP space. But that is your job. Our leaders are busier than they have ever been. The problems they face require people with diverse skill sets and perspectives to work together to solve. Talent alone is not enough. There is a lot of noise (especially in the NFP sector) about ‘diversity’.
What Are Your Leadership Anchors?
Many people are talking about the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world we are living in right now. The pandemic, natural disasters, financial and funding insecurities over the past few years are just a few factors destabilising many people and organisations. The consequences include significant levels of poor mental health, constant change and overwhelm. Unfortunately stress and overwhelm kills creativity and innovation, which is exactly what we need to counter the effects of a VUCA environment.
What Is It About the Role of the Chair?
Once upon a time there was a board member who was passionate and diligent but inexperienced and naïve who was asked to take on the role of Chair of the Board. “I’m really flattered. I don’t really know what I have to do other than chair some meetings, so how hard can it be?” they thought to themselves. A fairy tale it might appear to be, but this was me. Twenty years on, I reflect on my transition from well meaning board member with little experience to having held the role of chair on a few occasions in my career.
Which Comes First – the Purpose or the Behaviour?
The theme of the Better Boards Conference for 2020 was ‘passionate directors – purposeful boards’. The conference website neatly defined a ‘purposeful board’ as one that is “united, collegial, focused and disciplined, led by a chair who not only facilitates discussions and decisions, but is guided by strategy, KPI’s and timeframes.” One might gauge from this definition that contrastingly, a board that lacks purpose is therefore divided, argumentative, disinterested and irrational.
Lessons Learned from a Listening Leader
“Um, Jeremy, there’s an issue with the data in the Board paper.” So it began. I’d been in the role but days as the new CEO, taking over a team who were finalising a major meeting with our Board, including a significant financial decision that had to be made.** The words from one of my team stopped me in my tracks. Somehow, the data on which we were framing the paper was wrong.
The Discipline in Developing a Winning Culture
Culture is the buzzword of current day governance. A panacea for underperformance, inefficiency and conduct risk. Boards and executives are tasked with developing the right culture in their organisation. But we need to talk about what this means in practice for directors. There is increasing expectation that directors will get out and ‘kick the tyres’ to develop greater understanding of their organisation and its culture, empowering more active and meaningful leadership ‘from the top’ by boards.
Evaluating the CEO: essentials for not-for-profit boards
Like any employee, your CEO needs a regular formal evaluation of their performance in the role. It holds the CEO accountable to their role, but also ensures that the board is actively meeting its duties to their organisation. The benefits of doing a proper CEO evaluation are invaluable. Growth Evaluations provide a CEO with an overview of their efforts. It helps them to understand their strengths and weaknesses and gives them direction for areas where they can continue to develop professionally.
Get Real: What Are The Questions Boards Need to be Asking During Mergers and Acquisitions?
So you’re on a not-for-profit board and the question of a merger or acquisition comes up. What’s your primary objective as a board member as you navigate these often complex discussions? Is it: To safeguard the organisation’s legacy? To rigorously examine the potential business case and its financial viability? To thoroughly explore the risks and push for detailed due diligence on the potential partner? To dust off your AICD training (or get legal advice) on your fiduciary duties as a Director during a transaction?
The Collective Voice – A Crucial Leadership Element
Numerous professional development resources dispense advice with the presumption that directors will approach objectives with a shared attitude and intent, that the board will reach a consensual decision and speak with a collective voice. The reality is that often this is far from the case. Resolution can be difficult and that collective voice may be impossible to achieve. While healthy dissent can be a sign of an effective board, differences – habitually ill-managed – are obvious drivers that can lead to substantive leadership and organisational damage.
Top Tips For Developing Collaborative Leaders
To illustrate how workforce requirements are changing, the DDI Global Leadership Survey (2018) found that collaborating within and across organisational boundaries is regarded by CEOs as a premium capability. Working collaboratively is harder than your leaders might think because it’s about balancing common agendas with individual goals. For example, when helping leaders from grassroots community organisations, not-for-profits, government departments and the business sector come together in a regional New South Wales town to pursue indigenous employment outcomes, we first focused on articulating the common goal and developing collaborative ways of working, which contributed to its success.
Explore Other Authors
Senior Research Fellow @ Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (QUT)
Consultant & Facilitator @ Beth McConnell Consulting
Chief Executive Officer @ Inventium
Executive Coach PCC @ Leadership Space
Senior Consultant @ Australian Strategic Services Pty Ltd
Consultant @ NFP Finances