Reaching out to others with compassion and care, speaking well of others when they are not around, and taking interest in others, these are all traits of leaders who value relationship. In these times when the focus is on “getting things done”, it is easy to loose sight of people – and regardless of the mission an organization has, it is in the people business. Darryl Jones, Sr. Vice President of CEO of Maryland Nonprofits shared these and many other thought-provoking words in the opening session at Maryland Nonprofits’ Annual Conference. Dave Deal, CITI’s CEO, and myself participated in the one day conference centered on the theme “Sustaining Nonprofit Leadership”, held on March 2, 2011. Here are a few other take-aways:
Leaders are good listeners, and listening supports learning.
Leaders stay in touch with emerging trends and issues, to help determine what talents and resources they will need to address them.
Leaders clarify vision, communicate the vision, and align daily activities with that vision.
Leaders need to build up their resiliency ahead of time, so they can be ready for a crisis when it comes.
It is okay to have plan A, B, C and D and to know that you may have to jump to next plan. The main thing is: have a plan.
One’s leadership style may need to shift to support each generation … from a talk by afternoon keynote speaker Peter Brinckerhoff, author of “Generations: the Challenge of a Lifetime for Your Nonprofit“:
- Baby Boomers: born between 1946 and 1964
There are 80M
Boomers had the technology innovation of the television during their formative years. They saw the same shows at the same time, and television as a technological innovation brought them together. Boomers in their collective wisdom believe they saved the world in the 1960’s. Engage them to come and save the world with us again.
- Generation X: born in the 1960s and 70s, ending not later than 1982 (The X stands for 10th generation after the Declaration of Independence)
There are 45M
For Generation X, the technology innovation that occurred during their formative years was the personal computer. They remember what life was like before computers. What is important to them: they think “How can I make technology work for my community.” Generation Xers need to know they are valued. They value independent thinking, contributing their ideas and participating in the organization, and they value work-life balance.
- Generation @, or also known as Generation Y: born after the mid 1980’s through to the early 2000’s
There are 75M
Generation Y was born into technology, it is like air to them and there is no drastic technology innovation during their formative years, so they can’t remember what it was like before technology. They make decisions based on their access to technology. What is important to them: they need to be connected all the time. They also have high expectations for what they should get out of their workplace.
- Micromanagement is out: This style does not work with Generation X or Generation Y. Allow them to work. And seek them out for input – say “Here’s our Fundraising Plan (or any other plan), what do you think?”
- Board Diversity — How to get younger people to join aging Boards: All those Baby Boomers are eventually going to have to retire. Getting younger Board Members is hard because when they come to a Board meeting, to them it is a meeting of their parents. Bring younger Board Members onto the Board in pairs, this seems to work well, and helps them feel they have a peer.