Nonprofit leaders and the people who make the organizations hum have a deep desire to impact the world positively. Creating an engaging workplace, or what my colleague and I call a Magnetic Workplace, is essential to have that impact.
An engaging workplace exudes magnetic qualities. It is a workplace that fosters growth, openness, belonging, generativity, and creativity among its people. This type of workplace inspires individuals to contribute to something larger than themselves, instilling a sense of purpose and meaning in their work. At a magnetic workplace, employees know that they matter and feel cared for, which creates an environment that draws people in and fills them with energy.
I introduced you to The Intentional Leadership Model to create a Magnetic Workplace. The Intentional Leadership Model, an infinity loop, is a continuous process of moving back and forth between, on the right-hand side, turning inwards in self-reflection and on the left-hand side, engaging with your team. The loop has the four components of the Inner Guidance Cycle on the right; pause, ponder, pivot and proceed. A 5th point, people, is on the left.
To develop yourself and your team using The Intentional Leadership Model, you will need to deliberately build a habit of purposefully ebbing and flowing between being self-reflective and engaging with the people around you. To do that, the following four building blocks of The Intentional Leadership Model will help you.
🟨 Building Block # 1 - Curiosity is Critical
The first building block towards a Magnetic Workplace is curiosity. In Magnetic Workplaces, people are openly curious about improving their impactful work, sharing their ideas and collaborating on innovative approaches.
Curiosity allows for reflection, new perspectives, and the courage to act and engage with your team. It helps to create a magnetic work environment that draws people in. When you learn to be more curious, so does your team.
TIP to help you be more curious
Creating Comfortable Coaching Conversations
🟨 Building Block # 2 - Inner Work is Imperative
Magnetic Workplaces prioritize the inner work of their leaders and their team members by giving them time, space, and freedom to think and reflect. This time for "inner work" allows them to think strategically, make effective decisions and improve their emotional intelligence.
In most organizations, leaders and team members are constantly busy, running from one meeting to the next and dealing with crises and fires all day. To create a magnetic work environment, distractions and interruptions must be intentionally reduced, and time must be deliberately created to reflect, process, and resolve issues.
Scheduling time to pause, prioritize, and proactively plan a way forward for everyone on the team is essential to improve decision-making and foster an environment of growth and development.
TIP to help you make space for more inner work
📚 Resources to Help:
The Pause Principle by Kevin Cashman
Leadership from the Inside Out by Kevin Cashman
🟨 Building Block # 3 - Vulnerability is Vital
Magnetic Workplaces encourage vulnerability because trust is grown by being open, honest and vulnerable with each other.
Vulnerability is also critical for you to engage in the inner work of The Inner Guidance Cycle. It's hard to look at what triggered you, why and how you will deal with it differently without being vulnerable with yourself.
Start by learning what vulnerability is (courage) and what it isn't (weakness). Then, role model courage and vulnerability. When you do, you'll create more of that sense of trust and the understanding, respect, kindness, and compassion required to develop a magnetic work environment.
Tip for learning to be vulnerable
Make a list of leaders you admire and what you admire about them. Look at that list for places where they demonstrate vulnerability. Use these as your role models for doing it yourself.
Another great place to start is to identify and speak to your values. The Values Verification course in The Training Library helps you put voice and action to the value words you identify.
📚 Resources to Help:
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
The Boy, The Mole and The Fox by Charlie Mackesy
🟨 Building Block # 4 - Movement is Mandatory
Building a Magnetic Workplace requires movement and growth. These elements are necessary to create and sustain a workplace where team members feel safe to be curious, take time to do the inner work and then do the impactful work that moves their nonprofit forward.
Leaders must break out of this pattern of holding on to old ways and resisting change. It's essential for leaders themselves and their people to move outside their comfort zones. Leaders must model this behaviour and create an environment where people feel safe to try, flounder and sometimes fail.
Tip for learning to move into action, even when it's scary
Move. Get up and move. Go for a walk or move around your office or house. Movement in your body creates movement in your mind; sometimes, that is exactly what we need to move into action with our team.
Having a plan also helps you move. When you know the steps, it's easier to take them. To help you with that, try this webinar in The Training Library: How to Prepare for a Tough Talk.
📚 Resources to Help:
Leadership and Self-Deception by The Arbinger Institute
The Confidence Gap: A Guide to overcoming fear and Self-doubt by Russ Harris
Your next steps
You must create an engaging workplace to have the positive impact you desire in your workplace. An engaging workplace, also called a Magnetic Workplace, fosters growth, openness, belonging, generativity, and creativity among employees, inspiring them to contribute to something larger than themselves. You'll do that when you put the Intentional Leadership Model into action.
The continuous process of moving back and forth between self-reflection and engaging with the team helps you to process what's going on inside of you so that you can be your best self in your leadership role. Remember though:
As a Nonprofit Leader, you likely want to build and sustain a team that continues to make a difference. However, finding the time, energy, and focus to make that happen can be challenging. Being overworked, overloaded, and overwhelmed may lead to burnout and keep you in survival mode.
Staying stuck in survival mode, if you aren't careful, can taint your workplace energy and create disengaged teams and toxic work environments. But there is another way. Keep reading to discover a model you can use to become a leader who creates an engaged team of difference-makers!
What we don't want:
Leaders and organizations do not want uninvolved, unenthusiastic, uncommitted, and disengaged team members that contribute to a toxic work environment.
What we do want:
Leaders and organizations do, however, want engaged teams that are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace, which is how Gallup defines engagement.
The way forward:
For leaders and organizations to increase engagement and build a team of involved, enthusiastic, and committed employees, you need a system, processes and habits of interacting that will help you get there. Let's learn the framework to help you create that way of leading.
Your individual path is connected to the organizational path
Learning how to move from surviving to thriving as an individual leader is important to understand how you can impact your organizational culture. This blog teaches you how to move along the surviving to thriving continuum. Let me summarize the continuum here.
On the left, survival mode is characterized by fear. You are always afraid of falling apart, dropping the ball or losing it emotionally. You are barely hanging on, just getting by or just trying to stay alive.
The opposite, thriving mode, is characterized by energy, enthusiasm and engagement. You bloom and flourish as you learn new things, take on engaging projects, and have strong, developed working relationships that allow you to do your work purposefully.
Most of us hang out in the middle, coping. Here you are doing more than barely getting by, but you're not feeling so alive that you want to yell from the mountaintops about how much you love your job. This middle ground is where the idea of being on a hampster wheel fits: round and round you go.
Surviving, coping and thriving are all places you "live" in individually. They may overlap, though, with your workplace culture and thus your workplace continuum also. So, first, let's review what workplace culture is.
Your Workplace Culture
Your workplace and every other workplace has a specific culture - a feel to it, an impression it leaves. Each workplace has a certain intangible quality that makes something about it distinct and decidedly different but difficult to define or describe. You know whether you like it or not, want to be there or run away quickly.
The Points on a Workplace Continuum
My colleague Bill Scott and I developed a workplace culture continuum that stretches from toxic to magnetic. In the middle is the place that most of us are far too familiar with - a tolerable workplace. As you read the following explanations of each of the points on the continuum, we expect you'll know if that "feels" like your workplace or not.
A toxic workplace sucks the energy out of its people.
A toxic workplace is characterized by:
A toxic workplace is unhealthy and destroys individuals and team connections.
In a TOXIC workplace, employees are actively disengaged.
A tolerable workplace is not bad enough to leave, not good enough to give it your all.
A tolerable workplace is characterized by the following:
In a tolerable workplace, people have tolerated far too much for far too long.
In a TOLERABLE workplace, employees are not engaged.
A Magnetic Workplace draws its people in; they know they matter and feel cared about.
A magnetic workplace is characterized by the following:
In a magnetic workplace, people contribute to something bigger than themselves. Magnetic Workplaces draw people to them and fill them with energy!
In a MAGNETIC workplace, employees are actively engaged.
It's not a static point you are at
There are more than three points on a continuum. In fact, there are an infinite number of points. As a result, many of us simultaneously find elements of toxic, tolerable and magnetic experiences in our workplaces. It can shift depending on the day, the day's agenda, your work location, and who you are interacting with.
Creating a Magnetic Workplace
Imagine being in a workplace where people feel an irresistible pull to be at work because of some strong positive vibe, energy or even magnetism. Bill and I know that's possible because we've seen it happen. When you create magnetic teams with involved, enthusiastic and committed employees, you will lead a magnetic workplace that attracts good employees and keeps them around long-term. So how do you do that? By becoming a thriving leader.
Thriving leader to magnetic workplace
To become a thriving leader, you've learned to use The Inner Guidance Cycle to take time for self-reflection to be a more intentional leader. But it doesn't end there. You can't "stay in your head" to lead. After thinking, reflecting and sometimes making decisions, you'll need to reengage. Reengaging is about engaging with the people you work with, your community and your family. Thus, another cycle links with The Inner Guidance Cycle creating a new model.
The Intentional Leadership Model
To become a thriving leader, you've learned to use The Inner Guidance Cycle to take time for self-reflection to be a more intentional leader. But it doesn't end there. You can't "stay in your head" to lead. After thinking, reflecting and making decisions, you'll need to reengage. That's about the people you work with, your community and your family. Thus, another cycle links with The Inner Guidance Cycle creating a new model.
Bill and I developed the Intentional Leadership Model (ILM), a continuous process of moving back and forth between turning inwards in self-reflection and engaging with your team. Both model components use curiosity as fuel for continued learning, resulting in an engaged workplace.
Think of this model as the infinity loop. The loop, with the 4 components of the Inner Guidance Cycle on the right, pause, ponder, pivot and proceed, and the 5th point, people on the left, demonstrate the ebb and flow between self-reflection and engagement with others.
Putting the ILM into action, we move consciously back and forth from our inner thoughts to our external connections. When we do this more consciously, intentionally and deliberately, we move individually from surviving to thriving and our organization from toxic to magnetic.
Be an intentional leader
Take time today and every day to pause, intentionally going within and ponder and then engage with your people more consciously. The more intention you put into who you are and how you show up, the more authentic you'll feel and the bigger impact you'll have!
Do you like to read? The ladies whom I recently finished a six-week Mastering Confidence book club with were a group of leaders who, readers or not, wanted increased confidence. They read the book and worked through additional exercises to build their confidence over the weeks.
At the end of the final session, I asked them to come up with three summary points of what they had learned. Here is what they came up with.
How to master your confidence in 3 steps:
Step # 1 - AWARENESS
Step one is to become aware that you need to build confidence in a particular area of your leadership.
Without awareness, you keep settling, putting up with and feeling uncomfortable. Increased awareness of what area you need to grow confidence in starts you on the journey.
Answering those questions gives you increased awareness.
Step # 2 - Pause and Ponder
The second step to increasing your confidence is to pause and become self-reflective because confidence is not about what other people think you can do. It's what you believe you are capable of.
You need to examine your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, values, and perspectives to shift your confidence. Therefore, the second step to building confidence is to change what you're thinking and experiencing inside you so that your behaviours change outside of you.
One of the reasons the book club members identified pausing as a critical step is that it starts the process of examining your thoughts. It's the first step of the Inner Guidance Cycle, which I teach in the book.
What do I believe about my capacity, competence and confidence levels?
Answering these questions will help you feel more competent, capable and lead with confidence.
Step # 3 - Build your support team
The ladies in the Mastering Confidence Book Club quickly realized how similar their challenges, stories and solutions were.
The final point that the Mastering Confidence book club members identified is that you need to create a support network. You are not the only one who has struggled or is struggling with your leadership. Leaning into others on the journey or who are a few steps ahead of where you are can be incredibly helpful in navigating the journey.
When you connect with others, you can share a human experience with many striking similarities and learn from each other.
When you create your support team, you will find confidence-building becomes easier.
BONUS Step - Teach what you learn
Watching these leaders grow over six weeks is a powerful experience for me.
I experienced a lack of confidence in my leadership multiple times in my career. As I learned and grew, I taught others. First, it was my team leads and my program managers. Now my students and coaching clients. As I teach confidence, I learn more about it, become more confident in new areas and expand my comfort zone.
Mastering Confidence is about the journey to mastery. Masters know they are never really masters. As I said in the book:
Mastering your confidence is a transformational journey. You will realize that, in many ways, there is no endpoint to your trip. You won't "get confidence" one day and be done.
Instead, you will continually strive to find this place.
Then, just when you think you have, you will find that something happens, and you lose balance, feeling unsure again. As you go along, you'll discover an inner process, the Inner Guidance Cycle, to keep you growing as you move forward and bouncing back each time you get knocked down.
Inside the book, you get access to a free course. You can join it now!
Join the free Mastering Confidence Course.
What makes a world of difference is when you turn around and teach what you know. Teaching others helps you grow even more, and your confidence builds exponentially.
When you find the answers to those questions, not only will you be helping someone else build their confidence, but you'll also be mastering yours!
📙 If you want additional help that, grab Mastering Confidence.
👭👫 If you'd like to build confidence in your leadership team and would like to do a six-week book club with your team, message me, and I will make the arrangements. It might be good to do before summer hits, and it might also be a great Summer experience for your team.
✏️ ☕️ If you want to join The Training Library and join us for the monthly Coffee at the Library calls, you can join here and find more details about the Zoom calls here.
You've got this!
Confidence for you and your team is yours!!! Become aware it's time, and then do work to make it happen!
p.s. When you grab Mastering Confidence: Discover your leadership potential by awakening your inner guidance system, you get access to a free online course!
Do you ever try to give appreciation to your employees and feel sometimes it falls flat? Have you ever wondered why you bother, what you are doing wrong or if it is even working?
You aren't alone! Many leaders attempt to give appreciation but miss the mark leaving both them and the employee wondering, "What the heck was that?"
You: Thanks for helping me out with that project.
🤨 You in your head: That's it! Just sure. It doesn't even seem like you heard what I said!
You: Take the afternoon off. You deserve it!
Them: Nah, I've got lots to do. I'd rather get it done.
🤨 You in your head: Um...Does a whole afternoon off not sound good to you?
You: I wanted to acknowledge the work you've all put in over the last few months. Here's a mug and t-shirt!
Them: Later, you hear two staff mumbling in the coffee room; A stupid mug and a t-shirt I'll never wear!
🤨 You in your head: Really! How ungrateful!
Why bother with recognition?
It's no wonder many leaders throw their hands up and wonder why bother. Yet we know that when employee recognition hits the mark, employees are:
Given we are struggling to get and keep good employees who don't burn out, the stats are worth looking at! And it would behoove us to consider what we need to do to get employee recognition to stick!
No, but we do need to speak their appreciation language
Gary Chapman and Paul White wrote The 5 Languages Of Appreciation In The Workplace: Empowering Organizations by Encouraging People. This was a follow-up to Chapman's best-selling book The 5 Love Languages. In The 5 Languages Of Appreciation In The Workplace, leaders and coworkers learn to understand each other by speaking each other's appreciation language. When you learn t do this, you' will also learn to make appreciation stick!
The 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace
Here's a summary of the 5 languages of appreciation in the workplace:
And it needs to stick
If you're offering recognition or appreciation in a way that doesn't land for an employee, you're not making them feel appreciated; instead, you might actually be turning them off.
For example, if you acknowledge someone at a staff meeting for their work, and they don't like a public announcement, they may be annoyed, embarrassed, and hope you never do it again. On the other hand, that same person might've appreciated you coming into the office, sitting for five minutes and spending quality time with them.
Therefore, it would help to learn and use the languages of appreciation. However, as I said in this post, 5 Keys to Meaningful Employee Recognition appreciation isn't just your job. There is no way you have the time, the resources, or the capacity to do this all by yourself. That's a heavy burden to take on and one that you will not have the time for.
Also, when we encourage peer-to-peer recognition and appreciation, there is increased collaboration, and stronger peer-to-peer relationships are built. Your employees will communicate more effectively, get along better, and they're going to support each other, especially in those crisis moments.
How to use the book The 5 Languages Of Appreciation in the workplace to create a culture of recognition
So, how could you use the book The 5 Languages Of Appreciation In The Workplace to create a culture of recognition? Here are four suggestions:
1 - Identify everyone's language of appreciation
Clear up miscommunication by communicating appreciation in languages you all understand. That starts with identifying everyone's language of appreciation.
Give your team members access to the assessment that helps them identify their preferred language of appreciation. This could help them understand how they prefer to be appreciated and also help them recognize the preferences of their colleagues.
Language of Appreciation Assessment
You could purchase an assessment for each team member or buy a book for each, which has a code to complete the assessment so that everyone can identify their language of appreciation.
2 - Start a book club
You could suggest the team read The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace as a group and discuss the concepts presented in the book. Then, you and your team could meet once every two weeks for a couple of months to discuss the book and share ideas on implementing the concepts presented in their work environment.
3 - Train your team
You could read and study the book and use the book as a basis for a training session or workshop for your team. You'd want to cover the different languages of appreciation, how to identify them in team members, and how to use them to create a culture of recognition.
4 - Give them the tools to appreciate each other with the 5 languages
You could encourage peer recognition by providing team members with the tools they need to identify the languages of appreciation in their colleagues.
These tools can help team members understand and use the various languages of appreciation in the workplace and create a culture of recognition and appreciation that can improve team morale and productivity.
It's important to note that everyone has a preferred language of appreciation and that not all languages of appreciation will be equally effective for every person. The key is to identify each team member's preferred language of appreciation and use it regularly to create a culture of recognition and appreciation in the workplace.
Staff recognition and appreciation are important. How important?
Well, let's say essential.
When staff recognition hits the mark (according to Gallup), employees are 73% less likely to "always" or "very often" feel burned out.
When staff recognition hits the mark (again, according to Gallup), employees are 56% less likely to be looking or watching for job opportunities.
For employee recognition to be effective, it has to land. In the stats above, Gallup said: When it hits the mark...
Sometimes, what we think of as good recognition, isn't landing in the way we intend it to.
Let me ask you...
I'm guessing you said yes to at least one of those, so you know what it feels like when recognition doesn't land. It doesn't feel so great.
So, how do you make your employee recognition stick? Let's look at 5 considerations that will help!
5 things that can make employee recognition land and feel good to the employee:
Timeliness: Recognize the employee after their achievement or contribution as soon as possible so they feel their efforts are valued and appreciated.
Hey Sarah, thanks for staying late and helping clean up. It's been a long day for all of us, and I appreciate the extra help!
Specificity: Be clear about the specific behaviour, action, or contribution you recognize the employee for, so they understand what they did well and can continue to do so in the future.
The way you handled that guardian was impressive, Lindsey. They were argumentative, and I noticed you kept your body posture open. You remained curious and asked lots of questions when it would have been easy to get defensive. As a result, I watched the situation settle down. It was impressive to see you apply the skills you learned in your conflict resolution course.
Sincerity: Be genuine in your recognition and communicate your appreciation in a way that feels authentic and heartfelt.
There is no example here, but genuineness isn't what you say. It's how you say it. It's a feeling, and you have to feel it before they will feel it!
Personalization: Tailor the recognition of the individual's preferences and needs to feel personalized and relevant to them.
I so appreciate everyone's contribution to the move of offices. It was a lot of work. So I wanted to give everyone a small token of thanks!
Sasha - Get yourself your favourite drink at Starbucks (gift certificate)
Beca - I know you are looking for the right thing to put on your office wall. I hope this will help you find that (Gift certificate to Homesense)
Ben - I know you used a lot of sticky notes labelling stuff getting moved. Make sure to head to Staples to grab some of your favourite coloured ones.
Follow-up: Follow up with the employee to reinforce the behaviour or contribution that was recognized and encourage continued success. You won't know if it landed if you don't ask.
Hey Saba, you put extra effort into that preparing for the review. I know I acknowledged that at the staff meeting. I'm curious, though, what's your preferred way to be recognized? Do you like it in public, or would you rather I mention it privately?
When staff recognition lands, it sticks. That stickiness makes it linger, feel good and keeps people engaged, around and more vibrant. I want to make sure you learn how to do that! So this month, I'll release a new course in The Training Library called Staff Recognition That Sticks.
In Staff Recognition That Sticks, I'll walk you through the employee recognition and engagement connection. It's essential to understand how vital frequent and genuine recognition impacts your employees' engagement.
You will also learn how to give timely, specific, sincere, personalized, effective, and sticky recognition and achievement. Finally, you'll discover how to create a culture of recognition where it becomes second nature for everyone to acknowledge and recognize each other.
We've all been to a nonprofit staff meeting where there are items that shouldn't be on the agenda. And often, it makes for a painful and long-drawn-out meeting. We wonder to ourselves or text our colleagues, "Why are we even talking about this?"
Often that's because nonprofit leaders haven't learned what belongs on a staff meeting agenda. Without training on how to run a staff meeting, we are left to follow what our predecessor did. If they did it for so many meetings, it must be the right way, no?
Learning what goes on your staff meeting agenda will help you feel more confident, competent and in control.
Ask yourself these questions:
Let's start first with what's on your staff meeting agenda.
Your staff meeting agenda should be prepared and provided to those who will be in attendance several days before the meeting. They need to know what to expect. Therefore, they may need to prepare. Additionally, if you are running an engaging and collaborative meeting, your team members may have items to add to the agenda.
So what should go on a staff meeting agenda? Here are 10 questions you can ask yourself when you prepare for your next staff meeting
Does this belong on your nonprofit team staff meeting agenda?
1) Does everyone need to know it and discuss it?
If it is an item that only certain people need to discuss, either put it on a different meeting agenda or put it at the end of their agenda so that those people who the topic is not relevant for can leave early
2) Can it be done as an email update?
If you were providing information, an email update might be fine. If you need a discussion around something, you may want to give the email update first so that people have time to prepare before the meeting. It's important to be clear on the agenda item what the agenda item is. It's not information sharing.
Instead, the agenda item becomes
3) Is it the right time?
Often we start talking about things before we have all the information, knowledge or information, and it can create anxieties, tension and confusion. Or we talk about things that aren't yet resolved, and really people shouldn't be privy to yet.
Be cautious and trust your gut when you ask yourself, "Is it the right time to talk about this at this meeting?" Your intuition will know best.
4) What is the point of sharing it?
Are you sharing information because it's something employees need to know, because it will help them somehow or because they need to prepare for it? If you can't figure out the point is for sharing it, don't share it.
If you do know the point, be clear on what the point is. Please don't assume that everyone knows why you're sharing it.
5) Is everyone there that needs to be included to discuss this item?
It's annoying to have a discussion that can't be resolved because the key stakeholder isn't at the meeting. When this happens, we often go around and around, but no one can make a decision or answer a question because the person with that power, authority or knowledge isn't at the meeting.
Be sure the key players are at the meeting for that particular item if you put it on the agenda.
6) Do we have time for that discussion?
Some discussions take time. When an agenda is crammed full, and we throw a topic in there and expect to brush over it, that often causes frustration for the people in attendance. They won't have time to explore, ask questions, provide suggestions and dig deeper.
Brainstorming, for example, cannot be done well in three minutes. If an agenda item needs more time, create a separate meeting for it.
7) Is this the most efficient use of our time?
Pulling a team together is costly and takes significant organizational time and resources. So make sure you're using that time and those resources wisely.
8) If this is a sensitive conversation, is it the right time to discuss it?
Even though some topics are relevant for everyone, sometimes those conversations are difficult. It's not always the right time to discuss them. That may have to do with what's going on organizationally, in the world, or someone's family. Remember to be sensitive about the topic you put on your agenda.
9) Consider the urgency of the matter.
Even though everything may be relevant to the agenda, that doesn't mean it needs to go on the agenda. If it's not an urgent topic and the agenda is already full, hold onto that topic for a future meeting. Give time and attention to the most pressing things, not just for you in the organization but also for your employees.
10) Is this the right place for this agenda item?
Lastly, once you've decided that it does go on the agenda, be considerate of where you place it on the agenda.
Things that need more discussion and focus should be done earlier on.
Additionally, things that need more composure for a difficult conversation should be done earlier.
You want to end on a positive, uplifting note. Therefore ensure the last item will make people feel good as they leave the meeting.
Running an effective and engaging staff meeting is much easier when you are more conscious and intentional about creating your staff meeting agenda.
1) Schedule a few minutes into your calendar to prepare your agenda.
2) Consider what belongs on your agenda, running potential items through the above list of questions.
3) Feel confident, capable and in control as you run your next team meeting.
Preparing is one of the first steps to feeling more confident running a staff meeting. When you prepare your staff meeting with intention, you will feel more confident, and your team will find it much more valuable and engaging.
Jennifer recently came to a coaching call infuriated with her boss. Jennifer was a middle manager and found herself entangled in a triangle of sorts with her boss, herself and her team.
Often her boss would undermine Jennifer in meetings. Without knowing all the facts, he would make a decision and announce it before conferring with Jennifer.
By the time we got onto our coaching call, the above scenario had happened numerous times. Jennifer noticed how it triggered her anger and prompted ineffectiveness in the team. The team didn't know whom to believe anymore. It was all a big mess, and Jennifer felt undervalued and unsupported. However, Jennifer hadn't had the courage or understanding of how to address the issue with her boss. Therefore, she'd been avoiding it.
Have you ever avoided a tough conversation?
We have all done it, but avoiding tough conversations does not resolve them. On the contrary, it only worsens them and often leads to deteriorating your team's effectiveness. Jennifer had realized that. It was why she'd brought the issue as a topic for our coaching call.
Jennifer started with why it was important to figure out
Through coaching, Jennifer was able to get reconnected to why she needed to engage in this potentially intimidating conversation with her boss. She was passionate about her staff members being supported and wanted them to have solid supervision. In the end, addressing the conflict with her boss would be better for her and her team. Even though it would be difficult, it was worth figuring out.
Take the first step to resolve the issue
Jennifer realized that in a "perfect" situation, her boss would recognize incongruences in messaging and deal with them himself. However, life isn't perfect. Jennifer knew she needed to be the one to tackle the problem head-on. She did just that. Jennifer took the first step and arranged a time to meet with her boss and then shared her concerns.
The result isn't always perfect, but it's a movement forward
Now, of course (remember, this isn't a perfect world), he didn't quite see the story like Jennifer. He did, though, become more aware of checking with Jennifer before he issued new standards of practice. As a result, Jennifer felt more confident and sure of herself. By stepping into the difficult conversation, Jennifer discovered she could fight her own battles rather than hoping they would magically disappear.
What is the tough conversation you need to have?
Perhaps you've found yourself in a similar situation, sandwiched between frontline staff and management. Other times you may have found it is the supervisor who isn't dealing with their team, and you see the mistakes happening. In that place, the tough conversation needs to happen with your subordinate, encouraging them to handle their reports more effectively. It could also be peer-to-peer where your co-worker is stirring the pot, causing havoc on the team.
When you realize a storm is brewing and know it's not going away, it is probably time to wrestle the tough conversation yourself. Below find the steps that will assist you in moving through the challenge.
Your 3 step plan to help navigate your nonprofit leadership challenge
1) Identify the issue
Notice that you may have been avoiding or hiding from the issue. Perhaps you push it away, praying someone else will deal with it. You've probably noticed, unresolved, that the issues continue to rise again and again. Each time you become aware of it, you probably tense up, get a knot in your stomach or feel anxious. By noticing when something is off, you help identify the problem that needs to be dealt with clearly.
Jennifer recognized the challenge was when her boss skipped over her role and function and did her job. She would have preferred that here and her boss discuss the issue before communicating them to the team. But instead, she identified the problem as feeling undermined.
This step is about getting clear on what precisely your challenge is so that you can communicate it.
2) Take responsibility for moving things forward
Stop pushing the problem away and blaming others for not fixing them. Instead, recognize that it is your job as a leader to resolve the issue. No, it may not be your problem but acknowledge that it is your responsibility to lead your team into a more effective, cohesive working environment.
That may mean that you need to be the one that grabs the bull by the horns. Jennifer did just this when she initiated a conversation with her boss.
3) Create your plan for dealing with the challenge
When you realize the problem is not going to go away and no one else will deal with it, it's time for you to address it. The best way to move through the muck is to be clear about what you will do it.
Dealing with challenging exchanges is not always easy but worth it
Even though they are tough, I encourage you to take the initiative to have tough conversations. You will find your confidence and courage increase the more often you tackle them. As a result, your team will be more effective, and you will also discover that you can enjoy your work more.
If you need more help planning for your tough conversation, try this.
How to be an effective nonprofit leader? Continue to grow and develop yourself!
Do you love to learn? Perhaps not. I know that not everyone is a lover of learning like me. But what I also know is that learning is part of leadership. It's necessary if you want to be an effective leader to continue to grow and develop yourself.
But if you struggle with the learning component, it's hard to make it happen on an ongoing and effective basis. Yet when you do, the results are astounding.
Is your learning too shallow?
Learning in a way that helps you apply it and get value from it requires some effort. So often, when we learn, we're just going shallow. We read a book, listen to a podcast or attend a session at a conference and get some good ideas. And that's as far as it goes. Perhaps you apply one of them, but more often than not, it's a fleeting thought.
What if you spent 3 weeks diving deep into how to develop your employees?
Mark These Leadership Training Suggestions
Consider taking a topic like learning how to develop your employees. For example, perhaps you listened to Strengths-Based Leadership on your commute to work. Then you listened to 10 Ways to have better conversations with your team leads and discussed it. Additionally, you completed the course Staff Supervision That Transforms.
Do you do this as you learn?
As you read the book, listened to the video, and completed the training, you wrote down what you were learning. You also had a couple of discussions with a peer who read the same book. On those calls, you added any new learnings or deeper understandings of how to apply the concepts to your notes. Then over the 3 weeks, you went back to your notes regularly. You added to your notes what you continued to learn as it related to your day-to-day world. You also became intentional in identifying where you could practice or apply the concepts.
What would you expect would be different in your leadership abilities?
Can you even imagine the change you might experience? I bet you would feel way more confident! Think about it. It's only a 3-week commitment. That's it. And it wouldn't require much time, just intentional scheduling of your time.
Will you make a 3-week commitment that allows you to go deep on a subject?
To be a stronger leader, you must go deep on one subject rather than bounce from book to podcast blog, but never really dive deep. Are you ready to dive in?
Keep reading as we break it down more as you learn to create your 3-week learning plan.
How to deepen your learning into a leadership topic in 3 weeks
If you want to dive deep into a topic, here are three strategies. Once you've picked the topic:
1️⃣ Identify 3 places you will learn about that topic
There are a ton of places to learn from. Pick 3 that will give you various insights, perspectives and strategies.
2️⃣ Identify 3 ways you will integrate that learning
3️⃣ Identify a time to review your learning
Set aside 15 minutes and answer these questions
When you set aside three weeks to deepen your learning about a topic, integrate your knowledge by implementing strategies, and practice it, you'll find that a quick dive into learning something has benefited you exponentially.
Do you wonder how to be the best leader you can be? One who makes a difference, has a great team and finds some balance in life?
Unfortunately, it's not the easiest thing to do. One of the reasons we struggle is that we don't see a lot of other women doing it, so part of us doesn't believe it's even possible. We need more women mentors. I keep looking for them and sharing them with you so we both have more inspiration.
Let me introduce you to Yvette Vargas.
I was listening to an interview with Yvette, Head of Development at Citizen's Bank in the states. Yvette was part of a Women in Leadership conversation series for LHH, an organization that focuses on recruitment, assessments, coaching, and career transitions.
I found Yvette's story, persistence and intentional personal and professional growth as a woman leader inspiring. So many of the suggestions she made for women in leadership had me thinking of the four fundamentals I teach leaders.
Let's dive into them together.
The four fundamentals of leadership:
Lead with Authenticity - Be yourself
On Citizen's Bank website, Yvette is quoted as saying, "I used to have separate selves — mother to my children, wife to my husband, caretaker to my parents, employee and friend. I thought that compartmentalizing my 'different selves' would help me manage each relationship better," she said. However, it's only by working to integrate her selves — and finding a job that allows her to bring every aspect of herself to work — that she's found true meaning in her career.
This quote speaks to the authentic nature that we need to lead with. We are not separate people in different aspects of our lives. We are one person doing various things. The more authentic you are, the more confident and comfortable you will feel, and you'll make a more considerable contribution.
To help you lead your best, I encourage you to identify your strengths, gifts, and personality traits. Then, do the work to figure out who you are and authentically be who you are daily.
Continue to grow yourself personally and professionally - Develop yourself
Intentionally developing yourself is critical to becoming the leader you want to be. Yvette spoke in the interview about being very intentional about this. She indicated you need to develop your growth plant and intentionally spend time working on yourself.
"The amount of time you spend on something is a manifestation of what you value."
If you value your growth and development, you'll put time into growing and developing yourself.
Be a balanced leader - Take care of yourself
4️⃣As I listened to Yvette, I could tell she has drive. That's different than being driven. When the work drives you, it becomes a problem. When you drive the work, you do that with intentionality. You also need the energy to do that! That means you need to take care of yourself.
But Yvette wasn't always that way. She tells the story of needing to shift from being driven by her career to intentionally creating her life and career simultaneously—that required intentionality and self-care.
Taking care of yourself it's not something you do just outside of work. It is something you do all day long. Start by adding teach micro-moments of wellness into your workday.
Be a leader, teacher, mentor and coach - Teach others to do the same
I love Yvette's story of supporting other women to grow and pulling them up as you advance. She learned this early on from her mother and sisters. She's been clear about continuing to do it throughout her career. She sees a large part of her role is developing others.
When we teach others to be themselves, develop themselves and take care of themselves, we do this through mentoring, guidance, coaching and leadership. Our job as a leader is not always correct and fix employees. Our job as leaders is to help our employees reach their full potential.
The four fundamentals of leadership:
What strategy, suggestion, or idea will you begin with today? Hit reply and tell me where you are starting and what you are inspired to awaken in yourself after listening to Yvettes' story.
Perhaps as a nonprofit leader, I'm guessing you can relate to my challenge. I was nattering along in my head the other day about something not going right, as we all do at times! Suddenly I stopped myself, and out loud, I said, "Thank you. That's not part of the vision."
My negative mind chatter needed to change fast!
The direction I was going with my mind chatter was definitely not the direction I wanted it to be going in my head or my life. Swirling down with negativity was not going to help my situation. Instead, pausing, expressing gratitude, and then reminding myself of my vision was much more helpful.
I shifted my mind with this powerful statement.
The statement "Thank you. That's not part of my vision" comes from the book The Ant and the Elephant, which I read last week. In this easy, quick read by Vince Poscente, he encourages us to realize the enormous potential of our unconscious mind and how that can help us lead ourselves and others.
I totally recommend this book to any leader who wants to inspire and motivate their team.
Don't get caught up in this trap.
What happens for many of us is that we tend to focus on what's wrong and try and fix it. But unfortunately, focusing on what's wrong makes us pessimistic, which leads to frustration, bitterness, anger, resentment etc. You get the picture.
It won't help you create an engaged team.
Feeling negative, bitter and frustrated doesn't make you feel any better, and it certainly doesn't motivate and inspire those around you to do better. Furthermore, that kind of attitude will not engage your team; it also helps to make your employees feel connected, inspire loyalty and thus encourage retention of good employees.
Instead, when you can pull in towards the vision with inspiration, you'll get a whole different response.
Gratitude makes the important shift in attitude that will create engagement.
Starting with gratitude is not often thought of as a tool to lead well. Sure it's a happiness booster and something we like to add for feel good extras but using gratitude as a staple in leadership is not something many of us have been taught or currently practice. But it is.
Now, back to my learning from The Ant and the Elephant. Why is this statement, "Thank you. That's not part of the vision," so powerful for leaders? Let's break down each component.
How to use gratitude to be a better nonprofit leader in 3 easy steps
First, we have to pause
First, we have to pause.
Pausing helps us get out of a negativity cycle, reactionary mode and brings us back to the present moment. In addition, it evokes mindfulness, something we all need a bit more of.
Second, we express gratitude.
Second, we express gratitude. Thank you.
The trick is that you can't be angry and grateful simultaneously. You can't be bitter, frustrated and annoyed and feel a sense of appreciation inside of you.
Expressing gratitude recognizes that, while maybe we are where we want to be, there are lessons to be learned about how we got here. Perhaps we are grateful for the reminder to get out of the negativity cycle. But gratitude turns us around.
Finally, we redirect our thoughts.
Finally, we redirect our thoughts. That's not part of the vision.
Do you have a vision? This statement reminds us that we need a vision individually and as leaders. It's an opportunity for us to reconnect to that vision and connect those around us to the vision.
Remember, if you don't know where you're going, any path will get you there. Leading your team around aimlessly is not going to help you generate engagement, motivate people or inspire loyalty.
So you need to know where you're going!
When you pull all these three together, you can see how important each piece is.
Pausing and starting with gratitude is not always easy. Gratitude seems too easy or too fluffy. But, gratitude is more than that.
Gratitude isn't a thing. It's a feeling.
It is not just an attitude of gratitude. Nor is it simply to practice gratitude. It starts with a feeling of gratitude. When I say feel, I mean that literally ⬇️
We need to feel the transcendent sensation of 🙏🏻 gratitude in our bodies.
We need to feel it inside of us before we express it verbally.
We need to feel it viscerally before the expression of gratitude can be genuine.
And when we do this often, we create a culture of gratitude that pulls our team in, engages them and inspires them.
Here is an example of the 3 steps in practice
Let's imagine the employee it's a negative comment under staff meeting. You've just shared a slight shift to the new procedure. One way to respond is to get defensive and explain it again, this time a little bit louder with more emphasis. We all know how that's gonna go!
Another way is to say:
"Thank you for sharing your views. Your frustration shows you care.
I know changes aren't always easy. However, the vision I have is that once we get through the sticky parts of the change, and yes, we may still have to make some amendments, but once we get through all of those, I'm expecting that we'll find it makes a big difference for our client's outings."
Thank you! That's not part of the vision! But let me tell you what is part of the vision...
Extra resources for leadership gratitude
This month in The Training Library, my students are receiving a new lesson on gratitude for leaders.
As a member of The Training Library, you'll receive a video lesson giving you strategies for implementing gratitude as a leader. Additionally, the worksheet students receive will take you from simply expressing "I'm grateful for..." to a whole other way of thinking about gratitude each day and applying it to your own life and your leadership.
Inspiring your team - 3 steps:
Join the membership
Listen to the podcasts
Read the book
Available on Amazon
Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.