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Tag: for-profit

Moore to Communication & Leadership

Recently, I was asked to contribute a piece on leadership for our Leadership Tallahassee (LT) community.  It was an honor to do so and I am super grateful to Barbara Boone (LT Executive Director), the LT staff and volunteers, and the LT experience over the years – their efforts make our community better in so many ways.  To say being a part of Leadership Tallahassee Class 24 (photo of our class included) made a huge difference in my life would be an understatement.  In the ten plus years since class 24/7 graduated, I have grown and have learned lessons when it comes to authentic communication and respectable leadership (with more to learn, for sure).

With today’s technology and the unfettered access to information day and night, education centered on communication and leadership is only a click away. Personally, I value the exercise of both within a relationship building philosophy with individuals and teams. For me, it’s the day-to-day interactions where we give the benefit of the doubt, where we try our best with good intentions, where we commit to ethics and integrity, and where we don’t solely focus on who wins or loses or makes mistakes.

Authentic Communication

Want to maintain credibility as a leader? Are you consistently providing an open channel for engagement, communication and input for all members of your team? Do your team members know exactly where they stand in regard to their performance or your expectations?

Being authentic in communication isn’t always the easy thing to do – of course, nothing in leadership is for that matter.  Over the years of working around LT classmates, I’ve gathered some helpful advice.  First, saying what needs to be said is necessary and time and place are significant considerations before doing so.  No matter how bad it needs to be said, there is no excuse for plain old meanness or inappropriateness.  Second, whether you are a peer on an executive team or staff, everyone deserves to be heard and to be responded to – otherwise, we are telling them they are not valued.  Responsiveness and common courtesy should be a constant from leadership, as well as consistent messaging and clear direction.

Professional growth can happen via direct, honest – and critical – conversations, but what will talking around corners do?  How will someone improve/change their behavior if they are not aware of their expectations, wrongdoings, misperceptions, or misunderstandings?  Build bridges and develop trust by utilizing authentic communication rather than feeding deceit and poisoning team chemistry.

Professional growth can also take place via sincere and meaningful recognition – sure, texts, emails, eCards, and social media posts are convenient avenues of complimenting a team member, but face-to-face delivery greatly benefits both parties involved.  In those moments, expressing verbal respect as a means of recognition to teammates creates strong bonds and lasting relationships.

Respectable Leadership

It may seem over simplified, but I firmly believe we all know respectable leadership when we see it and the same goes for the opposite, unfortunately.  Education on leadership is vast – from quotes to books to podcasts to consultants – and all varieties can make a difference in leadership abilities, but nothing takes the place of leading by example.  You can post all the quotes, read all the books and listen to all the podcasts you want, but it comes down to earning leadership respect in all that you say and do – those two things can’t run opposite of one another.  Being alongside LT classmates for years has afforded me great education!

Taking blame and giving credit, defending and supporting your team, inspiring and challenging others, and displaying principled and ethical behaviors – someone is always watching my friends and they do judge, let’s not kid ourselves. Maintaining respect and credibility as a leader is difficult if you are not willing to do the right thing and to hold others accountable, even if it means losing your seat on the bus.  Remember, respect in leadership can take years to acquire, but only moments to lose.

Identifying as a “player’s coach” leader, I have tried to provide clarity in expectations, to build accountability with structure and process, to identify boundaries, and to deliver consequences when necessary.  Simultaneously, success required not asking others to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself and taking time to get to know my team members.  It’s a fact, the more you show people you care about them, the more they will do with you.  Always support those you know are giving it their very best in effort, attitude and gratitude and do your best to temper the charismatic cheerleading role with a bit of humility – there can be a fine line between your intent of exuding confidence and the perception of arrogance.

Being a part of the Leadership Tallahassee community continues to make a difference in my life.  Volunteering on committees, attending special events, and learning at workshops brings knowledge, relationships, and opportunities for growth in communication and leadership.  Being authentic and being respectable in both requires constant improvement and grace.  I sometimes wonder what kind of leader I would be if I had not participated in Leadership Tallahassee!

Moore to business “Whack-A-Mole”!

We all remember the game Whack-A-Mole, right?  High paced game, expecting the player to quickly identify a mole popping from his hole in time to hit it on the head before it escapes back into the hole.  Miss it or hit it, the player then had to refocus their attention to where the next mole may pop up…and the cycle repeats.  Hectic and crazy for the player, but still possible to score some points here and there.  What a reactionary piece of work!

In consultations with individual business executives, I heard the term “whack-a-mole” used when they described their day-to-day activities – especially those centered on revenue generation (i.e. sales, fundraising, development, etc.).  How many of you have felt the same way in your business?

Several phrases can be used to imply that style of business operations – for example, crisis management OR urgent versus important OR even hampster wheel!  I had not heard “Whack-A-Mole” in this sense before and I hadn’t played it in forever.  If you’re a CEO or Executive Director, you are certainly charged with many responsibilities.  I mean, the buck stops with you, right?  Same goes for a Director of Development and the Sales VP in their area of specialty.

What can we do about it?  Change things, of course!

Sounds simple, but so many hold on strong to the idea that doing the same thing over and over will eventually get you different results – no, it won’t.  Changing behaviors through improvements, adjustments and modifications in structures and processes can get you there.  Will it be smooth sailing through this effort?  No.  Comfort and complacency makes expecting others to completely buy-in unrealistic.  However, as a leader you can create buy-in by sharing a passionate vision for the future and leading by example.  Specifically, remember to reiterate the mission and the rewards to come for all concerned (including the mission) if they risk following you through this change.

What kind of structural and procedural changes are needed?  The specific tasks are relative to each business, but maybe consider these questions IF the “Whack-A-Mole” feeling describes fundraising at your nonprofit:

  • Do you have a varied fundraising wheel?
  • Are your donor categories defined?
  • Do you have a communication and event calendar?
  • Are you utilizing multiple channels to engage donors?
  • Are you keeping event budgets accurate and transparent?
  • Do you set clear goals for calls, visits, proposals?
  • Are you coaching behaviors or results? How?
  • Are you practicing by employing role plays with your team?

There are more areas that would impact your future success, but these are a start.  At the beginning of change management, there has to be a commitment at the top – from you, the board chair and leadership.  Things can get dicey through the work of change and to land at the envisioned place of success, you will need leadership to back you.  You can likely imagine the pitfalls that ensue if they don’t.

Back to Whack-A-Mole: What did I do to get better at that game?  Nothing. It was out of my control – e.g. they sped up the moles as the game went along for crying out loud!  The player can’t implement any changes to the structure or process around the game, so I quit playing it.  Instead, I re-prioritized my time and resources and fell in love with Donkey Kong!  Think about it, are your donors or customers quitting because you are doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result – are you adverse to change?  Your retention and growth rates should tell you.

Transitioning from “Whack-a-mole” management, fundraising, operations, etc. requires discipline, commitment, accountability and leadership.  Influencing behaviors through changes in structure and process within YOUR business can be done.  Moore Business Strategies is here to help – email us for a consultation today!