Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

capacityThe Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, a free online resource, captures and organizes good practices for nonprofits and foundations.

There are thousands of effectiveness-building tips and resources on topics including:

  • Accountability and Evaluation;
  • Advocacy;
  • Communications and Marketing;
  • Foundations and Grantmaking;
  • Fundraising and Financial Sustainability;
  • Governance;
  • Management and Leadership;
  • Staff Development and Organizational Capacity;
  • Technology; and
  • Volunteer Management.

Source: National Council of Nonprofits

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Today’s Washington Post, listed the top 10 Kennedy Quotations (i.e.John, Robert, Ted, John, Jr.).  As we send healing and hope to Senator Ted Kennedy while he recovers form recent brain surgery, let’s remember the true leadership of this U.S. dynasty.  The quotes are here.

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One of my all-time favorite management gurus is W. Edwards Deming. In my opinion, Deming along with Peter Drucker were the most important management minds of the 20th century. Here, on a cold, rain sunday night is a wonderful taste of his wisdom:

The prevailing system of management has destroyed our people. People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-esteem, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning. The forces of destruction begin with toddlers–a prize for the best Halloween costume, grades in school, gold stars–and on up through the university. On the job, people, teams, divisions are ranked–reward for the one at the top, punishment for the one at the bottom.

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Greatness lives among us. Nick Anderson, a teenage from Conway, Mass. approached Oxfam about going to Darfur after co-founding a successful national high school challenge to raise awareness and funds for Darfur by using the social networking site, Facebook.  

As the co-founder of a highly successful fundraising initiative, Nick helped to raise more than $300,000 for the people of Darfur. But not content to stop there, he approached Oxfam with an idea: If he could visit Darfur he could help create a vital link between a growing group of youth activists here in the United States and Darfur teens forced to spend years in the camps.  

As premier international organization committed to creating lasting solutions to global poverty, hunger, and social injustice, Oxfam readily agreed. Before Nick left, Oxfam, asked him what the single most important thing was that he wanted to accomplish on this mission. 

He said he hoped to bring back an experience that would touch the hearts of American teenagers. He wanted to find a way for his friends—and teenagers like them—to identify with the youth of Darfur and feel moved to help them as peers. 

In late July, Nick Anderson left for a one-month mission to Dafur as Oxfam Humanitarian Youth Ambassadoron. What Nick found was sobering. More than four years of fighting in that remote western region of Sudan has forced 2.5 million people from their homes.  

Many of them have flocked to overcrowded camps for safety. Others have squeezed into towns bursting with displaced people. Yanked from their homes and villages—and the social and civic framework those places provided—Darfur’s youth are now growing up in an environment riddled with fear and boredom.  

Nick heard about their hunger for places to gather, for simple pleasures like balls with which to play sports, for basic improvements to health standards, for books, for safe ways to get to school—and the list goes on. Returning with first hand accounts on what it’s like to live in Darfur, Nick says more Americans—particularly young Americans—must learn about the ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis in Darfur and help support those who will be struggling to rebuild their lives and their homes.  

 “Wherever I went you could hear the sound of gun shots. There were armed men around every corner,” said Anderson. “I couldn’t understand how violence like that could be so routine.” 

Commenting on conversations he had with a local he was traveling with, Anderson noted, “to me it’s a disaster, to him, it’s life.” In Kebkabiya, a small town that has seen its population swell to over 60,000 people after thousands settled there to escape attacks on their own villages, he spoke with young people, ranging in age from 14 to 20, who had been displaced from their homes and are living in temporary shelters.  

He asked them all the same question: “If there was one thing you could ask Americans to help you with, what would it be?” Anderson found that the responses varied little regardless of whom he asked. 

He heard two things consistently —the need for health care and technical training for jobs. The health care Anderson heard about is not what immediately comes to mind in the U.S. “They need shovels to fill in holes and ditches in their schoolyards because during the rainy season, stagnant pools of water form and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry infectious diseases like malaria.  

In addition, many of the young people in Darfur are looking for training in technical skills—things like carpentry and metalwork so they can get jobs and help to rebuild their communities,” said Anderson.  

Also, he observed that young people did not have any way to become active participants and leaders in their communities, to have a voice in what was happening around them. Now back in the U.S., his personal goal is “To define us as a generation that takes action and one that cares about such important causes as the one in Darfur.”  

Check out Nick’s You Tube video here. Now, get into action, and consider supporting this important cause.  

Greatest lives among us. 

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My September 14, 2007 post was on nonprofit board performance . An important context for the article was the book Good Enough . . . Isn’t Enough by Alan Weiss, PhD. Dr. Weiss kindly commented on my post. This drove me to review his website. What I found was a treasure trove of great resources.

In particular, I discovered an outstanding keynote speech that he delivered to senior healthcare consultants entitled Tools for Change: The 1% Solution. This speech is available as an audio file for those with Microsoft Media Player (most computers already have this application). I encourage you to listen to this great speech. The link is here.

He makes some excellent points including:

  • If you improve your operation by 1% each day, in 70 days you are twice as good
  • Our organizational mindsets are far too often focused on training rather than educating and empowering employees
  • The moment of truth for any organization (forget about the aphrodisiac of written mission statements) appears on the frontlines
  • Innovation is right under your nose – in your employees who are too often harness by foolish restrictions and trapped at the bottom of organizational triangles that would make Frederick Taylor proud
  • Effective leaders are personal role models of change. It doesn’t matter what you say; it matters what you do.

To listen to his speech (about 20 minutes), simply click here. If you computer tells you that you don’t have the application (Windows Media Player) needed to listen to the presentation, click here to download the application. Then click on the audio link above.

Also, don’t miss Dr. Weiss’ excellent website here. The site also has an RSS service.

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mvvThe Salvation Army is rightfully considered one of the most effective, best-managed nonprofit organizations in America.

In five brief paragraphs, they summarize their value-based operating guidelines.

  • Keep first things first. To put it another way, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. It requires a constant reminder to everyone in the organization as to why there is a Salvation Army in the world and what its mission is.
  • Maintain strict integrity in business. There should never be any question about that. Our word must be our bond, and anyone dealing with us should rest assured that there will be no misrepresentation, no shortcuts, no special interests or conflict of interests.
  • People are important. The paperwork and administrative functions in this complicated age are more than burdensome. Sometimes they are overwhelming. Every person must be of immense importance to us. People are the reason for our existence. People are the focus of our mission. People provide our ministry and people receive it.
  • Service is essential. We are to shun materialism and avoid greediness on the one hand. On the other, a prudent, careful allocation and use of resources is incumbent as we seek to spread limited resources to meet unlimited needs. Our cherished reputation for making the dollar go further than most other organizations must be more than a reputation. It must be demonstrated every day by our stewardship.
  • Results are more important than plans. We are in a bottom-line oriented society. Salvation Army supporters want to know and have a right to know what results are being produced. It is important for us to be able to clearly identify families we have reunited and restored, wayward youth turned in the right direction, alcohol and drug abusers cured, liabilities turned into assets.

The older I get, the less patience I have for the slobbering hyperbole so common in nonprofits — (best, greatest, excellence, leading-edge . . .). Spare me! Are you making a difference in the lives of the people you profess to serve? If you went out of business tomorrow, would we even notice? The bottom line is, are you living you mission, or it all just “happy talk?”

Given the challenges facing the planet, I believe that it is immoral for an organization to suck up resources and not to delivered ten-fold results. Lead, follow, or get out of the way; there is no third option.

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mvv1I’m an enormous fan of Margaret “Meg” Wheatley. She writes, teaches, and speaks about radically new practices and ideas for leading in chaotic times. Meg draws many of her ideas from new science and life’s ability to organize in self-organizing, systemic, and cooperative modes.

Listen, let in, what she says about leadership.

“There is a simpler, finer way to organize human endeavor. I have declared this for many years and seen it to be true in many places. This simpler way is demonstrated to us in daily life, not the life we see on the news with its unending stories of human grief and horror, but what we feel when we experience a sense of life’s deep harmony, beauty, and power, of how we feel when we see people helping each other, when we feel creative, when we know we’re making a difference, when life feels purposeful.”

“Over many years of work all over the world, I’ve learned that if we organize in the same way that the rest of life does, we develop the skills we need: we become resilient, adaptive, aware, and creative. We enjoy working together. And life’s processes work everywhere, no matter the culture, group, or person, because these are basic dynamics shared by all living beings.”

“Western cultural views of how best to organize and lead (now the methods most used in the world) are contrary to what life teaches. Leaders use control and imposition rather than participative, self-organizing processes. They react to uncertainty and chaos by tightening already feeble controls, rather than engaging people’s best capacities to learn and adapt. In doing so, they only create more chaos. Leaders incite primitive emotions of fear, scarcity, and self-interest to get people to do their work, rather than the more noble human traits of cooperation, caring, and generosity. This has led to this difficult time, when nothing seems to work as we want it to, when too many of us feel frustrated, disengaged, and anxious.”

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Leadership and the new science: Discovering order in a chaotic world (click title for Amazon link) is one my top ten books. Also, find more great material on her website: here.

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marriageOn June 29, 2005, Spain became the fourth nation in the world to offer legal marriage to same-sex couples. The law states: “Matrimony shall have the same requirements and effects regardless of whether the persons involved are of the same or different sex.”

Before Parliament voted to approve this bill, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero gave a stirring speech during the plenary session of Congress in support of the measure to ensure equality and freedom for all. The full text of this speech follows:

Freedom and Equality (La Libertad y La Igualdad):

Today, my government definitively submits for Senate approval the Bill, modifying Civil Law, which gives the right to form a marriage contract, a fulfillment of an electoral campaign promise.

We recognize today in Spain the rights of same-sex couples to enter in a marriage contract. Before Spain, they allowed this in Belgium, Holland, and, as of two days ago, Canada. We have not been the first, but I sure you that we will not be the last. After us, there will be many more countries motivated, honorable members, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality.

It is just a small change to the legal text, adding but a paragraph, in which we establish that marriage will have the same requisites, and the same rights, when the couple is either of different sexes, or the same sex. It is a small change in the letter of the law that creates an immense change in the lives of thousands of our fellow citizens.

We are not legislating, honorable members, for a far away and unknown people. We are extending the opportunity for happiness to our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and our families: at the same time, we are making a more decent society, because a decent society is one that does not humiliate its members.

In the poem “The family” our poet Luis Cernuda lamented:

“How does man live in denial, and how in vain by giving rules that prohibit and condemn.”

Today, Spanish society responds to a group of people that for years have been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose dignity has been offended, and whose identity and freedom has been denied. Today, Spanish society grants them the respect they deserve, recognizes their rights, restores their dignity, affirms their identity, and restores their freedom.

It is true that they are only a minority, but their triumph is everyone’s triumph. It is also a triumph of those who oppose this law, even as they attempt to ignore it, because it is the triumph of freedom. This victory makes all of us a better society.

Honorable members, there is no damage to marriage or to the family in allowing two people of the same sex to get married. Rather, these citizens now have the ability to organize their lives according to marital and familial norms and demands. There is no threat to the institution of marriage, but precisely the opposite: this law recognizes and values marriage.

Aware that some people and institutions profoundly disagree with this legal change, I wish to say that like other reforms to the marriage code that preceded this one, this law will not generate bad results, that its only consequence will be to avoid senseless suffering of human beings. A society that avoids senseless suffering of its citizens is a better society.

In any case, I wish to express my deep respect to those people and institutions, and I also want to ask for the same respect for all of those who approve of this law. To the homosexuals that have personally tolerated the abuse and insults for many years, I ask that you add to the courage you have demonstrated in your struggle for civil rights, an example of generosity and joy with respect to all the beliefs.

With the approval of this Bill, our country takes another step in the path of freedom and tolerance that was started by the democratic Transition. Our children view us with incredulity when we tell them that many years ago, our mothers had less rights than our fathers, or we tell them that people had to stay married against their will, even though they were unable to share their lives. Today we can offer them a beautiful lesson: every obtained right, and liberty has been the result of the struggle and sacrifice of many people of whom we must recognize and be proud.

Today, we demonstrate with this Bill that societies can better themselves, and can cross barriers and create tolerance by putting a stop to humiliation and unhappiness. Today, for many, comes the day evoked by Kavafis a century ago:

“Later was said of the most perfect society, someone else made like me, certainly will come out and act freely.”

— bright futures all around.

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As the nonprofit sector grows, it faces perhaps its greatest challenge in its long history of service to America – an acute leadership shortage. According to a study by the Bridgespan Group, nonprofit organizations will need 640,000 new senior leaders over the next 10 years. That’s 2.4 times today’s number. And the study says that the demand for new leaders could be as high as 1.2 million.

Given the significant management challenges faced by nonprofits, “any kind of leader” will not due. According to Tom Tierney, chairman of the Bridgespan Group:

It’s harder to run a nonprofit than a private company, you have the extra layer of a board of directors – and you’re wearing a lot of different hats. Successful leadership will call for individuals who are value-driven, highly-skilled managers capable to lead, inspire and transform.

It’s apparent that the Ford Foundation understand this new reality. In the August 14th issue of The New York Times, Ford announced that it selected Luis A. Ubiñas, who has worked for the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company for 18 years, as its next leader. Mr. Ubiñas’s appointment has stunned the nonprofit world, which has been speculating about who in the field would succeed Susan V. Berresford, Ford’s influential leader who retires in January. Ford is the nation’s second-largest foundation, with $11 billion in assets.

Increasingly high-profile nonprofit jobs are going to people who have done well in the business world or politics, a reflection of the pressure on charities and foundations to become more accountable.

What is your organization doing to increase the skills of your leaders? Do you have a board committee specifically dedicated to leadership development? What percent of your operating budget are you setting aside for training?

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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig was rejected by 121 agents, editors, and publishers (the author kept track). In 1974, a single editor at Morrow felt that the book may have some market appeal. Persig was paid an advance of $3,000 and his editor informed him that it was highly unlikely that his royalties would exceed the advance, so he shouldn’t expect any more checks. It has since gone on to sell over 4 million copies and remains in print more than a quarter of a century later. Persig continues to receive checks.

What makes the difference between those who finally succeed and those who endure? In a word, endurance. Not endurance in the Western sense of the word, but endurance from Eastern wisdom as represented by two pictures: a strong heart combined with a boat crossing between two shores — a specific goal and a strong heart. Perseverance furthers.

Time and again, we hear how inventors, authors, and social entrepreneurs among others faced a mountain of rejection. Everyone notices you after you have succeeded; that’s not the point. The point is not to quit before the magic happens. Success is often around the corner.

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