Leading an organization (or department, or project at work) can be hard, tiring work. But, according to Elisa Buckner, Board Member of Atlanta’s Summerhill Community Ministries, it’s important to stay strong and focused, and get through the task at hand, no matter what.
“Never give up,” she said. “There are definitely times when the funding might not be there, or challenges might come up and you feel overwhelmed, but don’t give up. When you are working with people and you are working with real, live beings, you want to keep encouraging, keep teaching, and keep giving positive alternatives to what may be a very dark situation that they are in.”
As a leader, how can you inspire others (and yourself) to keep going with the work gets tough?
- Break it down. Sometimes work can be overwhelming. Take the project or work one step at a time, setting smaller, achievable goals and benchmarks. Focus on the smaller pieces that will eventually make up the whole puzzle.
- Stop to smell the roses. Or, to take a walk. Or, to have dinner with a friend. Encourage staff to take time for themselves. If the work is hard and stressful, they will need some moments to recharge and refresh, and come back ready to try again.
- Celebrate small wins. Motivate the team by recognizing accomplishments along the way.
- Show them the bigger picture. The project at hand may cause some long hours and sleepless nights, but it’s all part of the larger mission. Accomplishing the task will set the organization up for success.
Howard Lubert, Managing Director of the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund, joined The Good Works Show to talk about Rowan’s investment initiatives, but also left listeners with a leadership tip.
“Smart investors invest in jockeys, not horses,” he said. “We are looking for leaders who generate the kind of strength and charisma and trust that make us want to write checks. It’s not about the cure for cancer, and it’s not about the key fob that finds your keys. It’s about the guy who can gather the troops and make things happen and generate that loyalty and trust.”
But how does an effective leader build loyalty and trust? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Encourage open communication. Allow your staff and team to speak freely about their work and their ideas. Let them know their opinions are valid and valued.
Collaboration is key. Each part of the team plays a key role in the work. Remind them that working together is critical to success. This will help form bonds and connections within the organization.
Invest in your employees. Let your team know their professional development is a top priority. The organization is only as strong as each individual member, so ensuring each employee both maintains their skills and grows in their position.
Don’t micromanage. Trust that you have put together a strong team. By giving them some freedom to do their work, you’ll show your staff you have faith in their abilities and competencies.
Promote a positive work culture. Recognize the efforts of your team, and applaud jobs well done. Show your staff you appreciate the time they put into their work, and that the organization couldn’t succeed without them.
Hear more from Howard Lupert on the Healthcare Angels podcast of The Good Works Show at http://goodwillng.org/goodworks.
In her role evaluating worthy organizations for Philanthropitch, Chelsea Manning has worked with nonprofit leaders from all over the country. In addition to funding ideas that are making a difference, the Philanthropitch program loves to support organizations with innovative and forward-thinking leaders. She also looks for a little humility from these leaders.
“Honesty and transparency are what we look for when we are talking to nonprofit leaders—someone who can honestly say ‘We don’t quite know what we are doing in this area, so we know we need help here, but we know we have a really good idea.’”
So as a leader, why are honesty and transparency so important?
1. Honesty and transparency creates trust. Employees want to know they are in the loop, and aren’t being kept in the dark. This trust helps promote a sense of stability in the workplace, and ultimately encourages loyalty among the staff.
2. Teamwork is enhanced. Transparency and honesty allows for leaders and staff members alike to show and discuss their strengths, demonstrating how each can best contribute to the work.
3. Problems are solved more quickly. Lack of honesty and transparency often causes a communication breakdown or barrier. When leaders and staff are encouraged to talk about what they need, they become better able to resolve any issues that arise within a project or the workplace.
4. Creativity thrives. An open and honest workplace lets employees feel supported to do their best work, and allows them to be more engaged.
5. Respect is earned. Honesty and transparency keeps leaders authentic. Employees can respect a boss that can both lead by example, and also be willing to admit that they don’t have all the answers.
Atlanta-based Amplify 4 Good creates social and organizational change by using rapid problem-solving techniques and by coming up with innovative solutions to challenges. Amplify’s co-founder and Executive Director Joey Womack joined The Good Works Show to talk about the organization and offer some leadership advice to listeners.
“Build a solid team. Hire slowly, fire quickly. Definitely take time to find the right people—people that have the values that you see in your organization, people that are committed to the cause.”
An organization that thrives on efficiency and high-paced work would surely depend on an effective team, but a quality staff is critical for any organization. Here are some steps to creating a strong group.
1. Define your organization’s needs and goals. By identifying the mission of your work, you will be better able to fill it with people who can get the task at hand done.
2. When hiring for a position, meet multiple people. Even if you think you’ve found “the one” in the first interview, sit down with at least a couple more. This will broaden your selection pool and enable you to pick the best person for the job.
3. Throw a curveball. Move the interview mid-conversation. Have another employee come into the room to ask a question. This will allow you to see how the job candidate responds to different situations.
4. Get the opinion of the current team. Have the job candidate talk with a few different members of the staff. Let them get a feel for the potential new employee to evaluate whether or not they would be a good fit.
5. Consider all sides. This person may have the technical experience, but do they come with the passion and the drive? Try to fill your team with people who have a combination of tangible and intangible skills.
Hear more from Womack on the episode podcast.
“Résumés. It’s really important to make sure your résumé is up-to-date and has the current information – including your valid email address – so that employers are able to contact you in the event they are interested in looking at you for potential employment. So please, please, please make sure that your résumés are up-to-date.”
– Heather Morrison, lead facilitator at Goodwill of North Georgia’s East Athens career center
For more job tips like Heather’s, tune in weekly to The Good Works Show or check out the podcasts at https://soundcloud.com/thegoodworksshow/northern-star-cobb-works-032616.