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The Leadership of Change

In the past, leaders worked hard to persuade others to change. Nearly everyone now accepts that change is a given. Today’s leaders must help people determine how to change.

As one of the leaders of your nonprofit, you must teach others how to successfully change. Your nonprofit’s sustainability depends on changing at a speed slightly ahead of the world around your nonprofit. When someone (board member, staff member, donor, volunteer, or other stakeholder) is slow to change, it slows your nonprofit’s change process and threatens your nonprofit’s sustainability.

The starting point is to recast change as evolution. Species must evolve to survive. That means traits must change to better fit with the new world that is emerging. Luckily, humans can evolve by choice as individuals rather than hoping the next generation develops the traits necessary to thrive.

As a leader, you need to be constantly assessing each of your nonprofit’s stakeholders and identifying the new capabilities needed by each individual. In addition, you must be able to communicate the value of those capabilities to the individual, the clients, and the community. When the stakeholders understand the value for themselves and others, they will have a compelling reason to develop the capabilities you recommend. Implied by this process is your willingness to invest in the individual (education, mentoring, training, etc.).

As a leader, you must also be willing to place the development of the stakeholder ahead of the short-term demands of the budget. Evolution is nature’s investment in the sustainability of the species. Just like with nature, when your nonprofit’s evolution is successful, it ensures sustainability and creates the potential to thrive at a new level. Successful evolution pays big dividends.

When your assessment identifies capabilities that are mission-centric, raises program effectiveness, increases client success, and creates additional value for your community, your nonprofit will enjoy increased sustainability and your nonprofit, clients, community, and stakeholders will be able to thrive at a new level.

Next Step:

Determine the new mission-centric capabilities each of your stakeholders must develop

Share with each stakeholder how the new capabilities will create added value for the stakeholder, your clients, and your community

Partner with the stakeholders by investing in the development of their capabilities

Focus on the long-term value created by the new capabilities rather than the short-term impact of the investment

It is hard for many board members to remember that each stakeholder is an asset. It is easy for them to recognize the value of staff members yet nonprofits seldom talk about the value of their volunteers, referral sources, advocates, or others. The value of donors is often assessed based upon their gifts. However, their increasing generosity, retention (loyalty), engagement, and willingness to recruit others are usually more valuable than their financial support. Donors need their capabilities nurtured just as much as anyone else.

Helping each of your stakeholders to grow is one of the best ways to say thank you and demonstrate how much you value them as individuals.

Take It Further:

Remind your board quarterly, with anecdotes and statistics, how valuable each of your stakeholder groups are

Remind your board that any asset worth having is worth investing in to sustain its relevance and increase its value

Work with your board to create a five-year strategy for asset development which includes new capabilities needed by each stakeholder group as well as the capacity of your facilities, the features of your technology, and growth of each stakeholder group

 

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