Nonprofit Leadership Advice

Leaders outperform their competition in such key bottom-line metrics as financial performance, quality of products and services, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction, says John Rampton, a member of the Entrepreneur Leadership Network. Each NPO will have its own metrics, but no matter the organization, there is always a way, and a need, to measure leadership.

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Here are some tips for developing leaders in your business:

  • Take advantage of all the available data. Rampton says he relies on the “Enneagram test” for new employees to help him better know how to make each of them a leader. Every personality is different, and the test helps you better evaluate different types of leaders. Note that this test is controversial, however.
  • Leadership development should take place early. As soon as you assess and analyze the strengths of potential leaders, let them identify themselves as such. FedEx uses a Leadership Evaluation and Awareness Program that explains the demands of management and the personal characteristics and traits that successful leaders need.
  • Educate and train employees. Have employees attend webinars, conferences, or classes to help them refine their leadership skills.
  • Challenge employees. Assign workers unfamiliar tasks as an effective way to push and test their skills. Notes the Wall Street Journal, “Even failure offers valuable lessons that can add new skills, improve confidence and solidify employee commitment.”
  • Let them interact with current leaders. Southwest Airlines has its leadership trainees shadow current leaders. This goes beyond formal training and exposes employees to leaders to let them see how they think. Even informal mentoring and exposure to company executives help trainees broaden their perspectives and stimulate their passion for the job.
  • Teach employees to network. Networking is vital for folks in leadership positions. Effective managers are able to locate individuals in their organizations who can help them complete a task or project.
  • Rotate employee positions. Employee rotation has become a great way to engage, motivate and work with different team members. By not locking employees into a single position, you help them develop additional skills that can be used if one worker has to fill in for another.
  • Provide support for employees. Give employees the support they need to get out of their comfort zones.
  • Inspire employees to be passionate. Some of the best leaders inspire others to become leaders with their passion. Employees can take a little bit of that passion, which will grow within them.
  • Give workers a little power. You don’t always have to hold their hand. With the right tools and resources, they should be able to succeed. You may have to give up a little control to give them the power to make some decisions.
  • Help your workers beef up their communication skills. Aiming at overcommunicating means trying to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Help your employees develop in whatever area of communication they’re lacking.

Experience makes good leaders. We all learn and grow every day. A great way to develop leadership skills is to take on more responsibility and keep tabs on everyone on your team and make them feel equal, scheduling weekly meetings to maintain good communications in order to avoid problems.

To learn more about how our firm can serve your nonprofit organization, don’t hesitate to contact Kathy Corcoran at (302) 254-8240.


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