Management

Manager or Leader?

Posted by on Oct 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Are you a manager or a leader? There are numerous articles to be found on this topic. One I liked (maybe because of the fun graphic) can be found here.

To me, it’s simple: Leaders serve. They are about mission, team, and shared collaborative success. Managers manage. They are about tasks, control, and results.

Read through the article, it will help you determine if you are a natural born leader or a task-oriented manager. Both are necessary!

 

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Is Leadership in Your DNA?

Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 | 0 comments

I remember my mother telling me that I was a born leader. As the firstborn of three, I absolutely gained all the beneficial (and off-putting) traits of the oldest child. This 2013 article lists these enviable (?) traits very creatively. And all I can say is “Guilty as described”. Just ask my younger sis.

Leadership is more than being smarter, in charge, and entitled. And, no offense Mom, leadership isn’t in my DNA. I wasn’t born to lead. How about you? Do you feel that from the moment of your first breath, as you were being held upside down and struggled to look up, you were born to lead? Maybe you do.

Leaders are a unique brand of human. We are confident. We are good listeners. We are risk takers. And, yes, we are smart. But most important, we are willing to say “yes”. We are up to the task. There may be others around us who could do just as well (or better) than we can, but they didn’t raise their hand. We did.

In a recent Business Insider article, it’s stated this way, “Leadership isn’t a gift from birth. It’s the willingness to assume responsibility when others don’t.”

Leaders come in all shapes, sizes, and personality types. They may have been the firstborn, or not. They may be a redhead, blonde, or brunette. They may be male or female. They may tower above in height or intellect, or both. Or not. There is not a mold that leaders are made from. Every leader has their own unique qualities and perspective that are right for the situation at hand.

Being a leader at one moment, does not mean you’ll always be a leader. I’ve been a leader of organizations, groups, and clubs, but I’ve also learned from great leaders of organizations, groups, and clubs when I’ve recognized their strengths and chosen to follow. A successful leader never stops learning. It is critical that leaders continue to learn and grow.

Leaders cannot let egos or pride take over; they cannot stop listening to input from others. What they can do is learn to follow when a stronger leader appears, step up and make the final decision when they are the leader, and most important, they can empower and motivate others to follow their lead. Leaders are influencers. Their actions, words, and even thoughts, will influence others toward an identified goal. This is a great responsibility.

A true leader understands this. He owns it. He feels it in every fiber of his body.

Maybe leadership really is in your DNA after all?

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15 Things Leaders Do Every Day

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 | 0 comments

I recently discovered this article on Forbes.com. It resonated with me and complemented my trademark presentation on the “12 Most Basic Keys to Success”.  All credit for this blog post is due to the author Glenn Llopis. You can find many more articles by Glenn on Forbes.com.

From this specific article, I am listing the 15 things most successful leaders do everyday. Listen up and enjoy!

1.  Make Others Feel Safe to Speak-Up

Many times leaders intimidate their colleagues with their title and power when they walk into a room.   Successful leaders deflect attention away from themselves and encourage others to voice their opinions.  They are experts at making others feel safe to speak-up and confidently share their perspectives and points of view.   They use their executive presence to create an approachable environment.

2.  Make Decisions

Successful leaders are expert decision makers.    They either facilitate the dialogue to empower their colleagues to reach a strategic conclusion or they do it themselves.  They focus on “making things happen” at all times – decision making activities that sustain progress.   Successful leaders have mastered the art of politicking and thus don’t waste their time on issues that disrupt momentum.  They know how to make 30 decisions in 30 minutes.

3.  Communicate Expectations

Successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when it comes to “performance expectations.”   In doing so, they remind their colleagues of the organization’s core values and mission statement – ensuring that their vision is properly translated and actionable objectives are properly executed.

I had a boss that managed the team by reminding us of the expectations that she had of the group.   She made it easy for the team to stay focused and on track.  The protocol she implemented – by clearly communicating expectations – increased performance and helped to identify those on the team that could not keep up with the standards she expected from us.

4.  Challenge People to Think

The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.

If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.

5.  Be Accountable to Others

Successful leaders allow their colleagues to manage them.  This doesn’t mean they are allowing others to control them – but rather becoming accountable to assure they are being proactive to their colleagues needs.

Beyond just mentoring and sponsoring selected employees, being accountable to others is a sign that your leader is focused more on your success than just their own.

6.  Lead by Example

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one.   Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

7.  Measure & Reward Performance

Great leaders always have a strong “pulse” on business performance and those people who are the performance champions. Not only do they review the numbers and measure performance ROI, they are active in acknowledging hard work and efforts (no matter the result).    Successful leaders never take consistent performers for granted and are mindful of rewarding them.   

8.  Provide Continuous Feedback

Employees want their leaders to know that they are paying attention to them and they appreciate any insights along the way.  Successful leaders always provide feedback and they welcome reciprocal feedback by creating trustworthy relationships with their colleagues..   They understand the power of perspective and have learned the importance of feedback early on in their career as it has served them to enable workplace advancement.

9.  Properly Allocate and Deploy Talent

Successful leaders know their talent pool and how to use it.  They are experts at activating the capabilities of their colleagues and knowing when to deploy their unique skill sets given the circumstances at hand. 

10.  Ask Questions, Seek Counsel

Successful leaders ask questions and seek counsel all the time.  From the outside, they appear to know-it-all – yet on the inside, they have a deep thirst for knowledge and constantly are on the look-out to learn new things because of their commitment to making themselves better through the wisdom of others.

11.  Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination

Successful leaders tackle issues head-on and know how to discover the heart of the matter at hand.    Theydon’t procrastinate and thus become incredibly proficient at problem solving; they learn from and don’t avoid uncomfortable circumstances (they welcome them).

Getting ahead in life is about doing the things that most people don’t like doing.

12.  Positive Energy & Attitude

Successful leaders create a positive and inspiring workplace culture.  They know how to set the tone and bring an attitude that motivates their colleagues to take action.   As such, they are likeable, respected and strong willed.  They don’t allow failures to disrupt momentum.

13.  Be a Great Teacher

Many employees in the workplace will tell you that their leaders have stopped being teachers.   Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.  They use teaching to keep their colleagues well-informed and knowledgeable through statistics, trends, and other newsworthy items.

Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance.

14.  Invest in Relationships

Successful leaders don’t focus on protecting their domain – instead they expand it by investing in mutually beneficial relationships. Successful leaders associate themselves with “lifters and other leaders” – the types of people that can broaden their sphere of influence.  Not only for their own advancement, but that of others.

Leaders share the harvest of their success to help build momentum for those around them.

15.  Genuinely Enjoy Responsibilities

Successful leaders love being leaders – not for the sake of power but for the meaningful and purposeful impact they can create.   When you have reached a senior level of leadership – it’s about your ability to serve others and this can’t be accomplished unless you genuinely enjoy what you do.

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Time Management By Quadrant

Posted by on May 31, 2014 | 0 comments

Managing time is never easy. Life moves fast and we all have responsibilities that often overlap, or even collide. Maybe this simple illustration of how I am managing my time will be helpful to you….that’s my hope!

 

Remember, there are only 24 hours in every day, no matter what we do. Make them count.

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I like bacon with my bacon, please.

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 | 0 comments

What was it Benjamin Franklin said? Oh yeah, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.”

I would like to echo that sentiment. Life keeps marching on, but to its own drummer. I may have a certain cadence in my mind, but somehow “life” always overpowers with a heavy drum beat that isn’t at all what I had in mind.

Peaceful tranquility? What’s that? Blissful retirement? Not on your life. Gentle breezes flowing through flowing golden locks…are you kidding me? First of all, I’m a redhead, so from the get go, my vision of how life should be was never going to happen.

Life, and my vision of life, keeps changing. And I’ve been known to remind people that change is good. But the reality is, change is…well, change is change. There’s just no getting around it.

And in fundraising, change is constant when it comes to methods, practices, and creativity, but when it comes to mission, it will remain the same. Fundraisers are taxed with the job of bringing in the bacon – so to speak – and that isn’t going to change.

Recently I had the opportunity to take some time to reflect on my mission, not only the mission of my consulting company, but my own personal mission. I realized that my goal was to change lives, and that I am at my very best when working with people directly.  As I pondered these thoughts, I realized that my current role with several of my amazing clients and past employers didn’t provide opportunities for me to accomplish either my personal or my corporate goals, and a new ah ha! moment was birthed: I haven’t been doing what I’m really good at.

With several past employers and clients, I was hired to meet with donors, but it never happened. I was hired to help with re-organization, but it never happened. I was hired because of my public speaking skills, but it never happened.

We get so caught up in the day-to-day policies, processes, and procedures, that we sometimes lose sight of our original goals and plans. In my case,  I was hired because I am the very best when working with people; not behind a computer, not word-smithing, not managing a database, not strategizing fundraising goals – although all of these things are critical to a successful fundraisers efforts and I can manage each one effectively.  So, yes, I am adept at all of these things, but I am best, I help an organization the most, I have the most success, I am the most effective, when I am working directly with people – one on one, or in large groups, or small groups. Me and them. Eye to eye. Knee to knee if need be.

This recent ah-ha! moment has caused me to reevaluate and instigate personal and professional change in my life.  My focus will continue to be with nonprofit organizations. And my expertise has not changed, but my focus has narrowed. I know what I’m good at, and I plan to work with folks to want to take advantage of that. because that is how I will be able to help them the most.

Thankfully, the nonprofit fundraising gods were listening during my ah ha! moment, and they are helping out. Since that memorable ah ha! day:

  • I have been invited to speak on moves management at a 2013 national conference in Florida. This is one of my strengths, I am one of those strange humans that loves public speaking. And moves management is a fundraising passion of mine.
  • I have recently had two personal visits with two potential donors to two different organizations, and successfully brought home the bacon (so to speak). Lots of bacon.  More bacon than I expected. Bacon, as in, I like bacon with my bacon (most fundraisers do).
  • I have the ability to read an organization’s culture after spending only a few days in their midst, and I can fairly quickly identify its strengths and weaknesses. This allows me to provide support to the organization by suggesting problem-solving practices that will help the organization become more effective, more synergistic, and more successful. I’m working with an organization in California right now on this very thing.
Obviously, I’m thrilled about all of this change in my life. It’s exhilarating to feel like you’re making a difference. The exact opposite of feeling that you’re not contributing. I thrive on success, and action, and positive movement, don’t most of us?

Change is hard…even this recent personal change didn’t come without some pain. But my mission hasn’t changed, I am simply using my talents and experience where they will be most effective in completing my mission, which is to support nonprofit organizations effectively. And I’m doing what I’m good at, using my talents to further a worthy cause by helping  to raise the needing funding for life-changing programs.

Maybe it’s true that death and taxes are the only things we can always count on, and maybe it’s true that life’s drumroll sometimes drowns out our chosen beat, but I still believe we can create our own destiny. It’s all about setting priorities, setting boundaries, and setting goals.

If you’re struggling, I suggest a time-out for your own ah-ha! moment. There’s room for a variety of talents in the nonprofit fundraising world. Are yours being used effectively?

Maybe the nonprofit gods will smile down on you too!

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