This is a guest post by Dani Robbins, co-author of the Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives. The innovative leadership model (developed by Maureen Metcalf) can be used to transform your leadership and, by extension, the nonprofit you lead. Building innovative leadership involves influencing others by engaging your intentions and actions, and aligning them with the organization’s culture and systems.
What does it take to be an innovative nonprofit leader? Is it enough to:
- name and uphold values that are apparent throughout all aspects of your organization?
- have a vision and craft plans to meet that vision?
- create programs that meet the needs of your community?
- move the needle on the issues your organization was created to address?
- create and continue human resource processes that ensure that people are not only good at their jobs, but also committed to the team and are helping to move the organization forward?
- match those systems to the agency’s values?
- build a great board that governs effectively?
- build a team that is excited about the work they do—and is appropriate, effective, and efficient in the way they do it?
- raise money in a way that honors the donor’s intent and meets the need of the agency?
- manage that money in a transparent, appropriate, and effective manner?
- inspire, motivate and enable those around you to be successful?
Are these activities enough? They are not. While success in these areas is a great start, it is also critical to continue to improve your leadership skills just as you improve your organization in this dynamic world.
A few examples of leadership skills to continue building include strengthening your resilience, improving your ability to build coalitions, and enhancing your ability to maintain focus during challenging times. The challenge for most of us is that we’re not great at executing all of the above. Most of us are great at some of the above, try to understand how to implement a few of the above, and haven’t previously considered the remainder of the above. How do we improve our organizations, and also who we are as leaders?
We start where we are, with what we have, and figure out a plan to get us where we want to be. The Innovative Leadership Workbook for Nonprofit Executives is a great place to start your journey, and not just because I co-wrote it, but because it’s what I needed—but couldn’t find— when I became an executive.
The workbook provides leaders with field-tested processes and worksheets to innovate how they lead to keep pace in a dynamic environment, and includes a diverse discussion of the scope of responsibilities for which a CEO is responsible to successfully lead a community-based nonprofit. Let us lead you on a comprehensive development process, including worksheets, tools, and reflection questions, and a case study detailing one CEO’s experience.
In the article 3 Things that Separate Leaders from Managers by Vivian Giang (originally posted on Open Forum), the number one thing was: “The leader innovates whereas the manager administers.” How do you learn to innovate not only what your organization does, but who you are and how you lead? Start here!
Are you considering improving your ability to be an innovative and effective leader? If so, take this free online Innovative Leadership assessment to determine where you fall on the innovative leadership scale. If you are looking for tools to help develop your ability to be an innovative leader, check out the 2012 International Book Award winning Innovative Leadership Fieldbook. Metcalf & Associates, Inc., offers assessments, coaching, and workshops to help you and your leadership team become more innovative and effective leaders and improve your organizational success.