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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 do with leftover Campaign contributions?

Election Day 2018 has come and gone – it was both exciting and exhausting.  Congrats to the winners and thank you to all that braved the challenging path of running for office.

This morning my thoughts lingered on the massive amount of money spent over the previous months to reach this point.  $50 million here, $10 million here, thousands here and there, and so on.  In one Senate race alone, almost $70 million was spent!  I can’t help but to think of the lengths nonprofits go to for a fraction of these sums and the changes to our communities nonprofits could affect with  figures such as these. Of course running for office is not an inexpensive endeavor, whether local or statewide.  But there are almost always a few candidates with monies still sitting in campaign war chests after the election.  Is there more that could be done with those contributions?

There are options.

It is fully expected, and understood, that politicians need capital to fund their campaigns.  While this post’s focus is on the post-election options for remaining funds, we will say that it is our hope that those generous companies and individuals that gave the hundreds of millions to campaigns also already give to charitable causes of their interests.

Depending on a politician’s next step and on the structure of their fundraising machine, their leftover contributions can be used in various ways.  Nonprofits take note – they can donate these contributions to you!  The caveat is the candidate cannot receive any compensation from the charity receiving the donation and the charity can not utilize the gift to benefit the candidate in any way.  Nonprofits and development officers should consider an approach to obtain these leftover contributions.  How can you create a connection with those running for office?

Of course, the answer lies in your development plan and the proactive and consistent relationship building activities therein.  You would not be as successful by just cold calling a politician right after the election.  Time and energy spent in cultivation and stewardship is a must; after all, elections only happen every two years.  In concert with a communication/marketing plan to educate your community of the option, your organization can be top of mind IF a candidate chooses to make a charitable gift with any of the leftover campaign contributions.  A candidate may even consider telling potential donors what they plan to do with any excess funds as a way to win more donations.

As mentioned, other options exist and there are additional rules in play.  For more information, here is an article we found beneficial from Investopedia.  Before undertaking any new plan, you should consult with a CPA or lawyer well versed in the topic of elections.

Dear candidates- would you consider making a charitable gift to a local nonprofit from your war chests this year?  Commensurate to your interests and your remaining funds, make a difference today by investing in your community that invested in you during your election run – win or loss.  Maybe Hurricane Michael recovery? Education? Human services? Mental health? Elder Care?

Yes, there are options!

No Moore “Trick or Treat” in development!

It’s Halloween, of course, and we just couldn’t let an analogy with development work pass us by without a discussion about one of the worst things a fundraiser (development person in any industry really) can do when it comes to donor relations – “Trick or Treat” a donor/client in order to get initial cultivation appointments.

Sure, we have heard the issue commonly expressed as the a “Bait & Switch” tactic as well.  For those us of that avoid the tactic, cheers to you!  There are still way too many that use it every day and it impacts many aspects of relationship building beyond your individual organizations.  For example, more and more donors have grown weary of it and are likely to say “no” to a meeting request from the get-go.  Let’s break down the Trick and the Treat scenarios separately.


When donors/clients receive that call or email requesting a meeting, we know they are considering whether or not it warrants their time and resources to meet with us.  What’s in it for them, right?  After all, time is our most limited and most valuable resource.  Unfortunately over the years, many people in the development profession took that to mean that we should avoid the “no” by being vague as to the real reason we want to meet.  Heard this one before, “Hey, just want to drop by to catch up, see how you are doing.”  Or, “I am going to be in the neighborhood tomorrow – mind if I swing by for a few minutes?”  And the worst, visiting someone cold – the unannounced drop by!

IF you avoided an objection and were actually able to get the appointment, the conversation quickly transitioned from light rapport building to an out-of-left-field ask for a gift or a product dump for them to consider.  You can imagine the shock on the donor’s or client’s face!

It has probably happened to you as a donor or consumer.

Nothing diminishes trust and tarnishes our efforts more that someone taking this “tricky” shortcut to building lasting relationships.  Sometimes this is a result of coaching results versus behaviors due to a lack of structure and process within the organizations or business.  We don’t like to hear “no” either, I get it.  That should not keep us from being totally up front as to why we want their time and it should not allow for shortcuts.

If you can not identify a value proposition – or a case for support – in order to get appointments, then don’t pick up the phone until you do.  You have to convey what’s in it for them.  Lastly, we should be actively listening and learning about donors and clients by using a question sequence that allows us to identify their needs and interests – not by trying to sell something (cause or product) because we have goals to meet/exceed.


Bankers were known for this for years – open a checking account with us and we will give you a toaster! Remember that?  The relationship lasted about as long as it took a competing bank to offer something better – maybe a microwave!  Now that’s building lasting relationships. (sarcasm)

These days fundraisers and the like think delivering cookies, flowers, free tickets, cards, etc. gives them a pass to make an ask following the donor’s or client’s euphoric response to said gift.  Soften them up and surprise ask!  No.  Not cool.  Again, we are talking about the initial cultivation meetings with folks that may/may not have given to your organization or done business with your company yet.  How you bring them into the fold may be the same reason they leave.  Think about it.  The next person may offer something a little better to get their business or donation – why base your relationship on that?  Instead, use your experience and expertise as a relationship builder to become known, trusted and liked.

As you consider your calling activities and your approach to getting appointments, be willing to do it differently than most.  Separate yourself from the competition.  You can use a relationship building philosophy (i.e. sales process) that incorporates authentic communication and inquisitive question sequences versus a “Trick or Treat” maneuver.  Yes, it requires time, space, and a focus on coaching behaviors, not results.  And it will also build trust and make lasting connections – tricks and treats are temporary.  Your donors and clients will tire of our fooling.

Happy Halloween all!

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!

Moore to a high school reunion?

My 30th high school reunion is this coming weekend – NSB Barracudas class of 1988!  During a bike ride last week, I pondered on the similarities of relationship dynamics in high school and our places of work.  Being a part of a team, in school or at work, provides a chance to build lasting relationships and to make a difference in the lives of others.  While pedaling along at 16 mph that morning, I focused my thoughts on the following similarities: 1) remember and celebrate; 2) authentic communication; and 3) cheerlead and congratulate.

1) Remember and Celebrate.

Life through our high school years and in the professional world are challenging for varying reasons.  Successes and failures seem to alternate on a regular basis.  Turned down for a date for prom?  Didn’t get a promotion you felt you deserved?  You made the varsity team!  You surpassed your sales goal for the first time!  With these and other happenings over a span of 30 years, you should make time to remember the moments and to celebrate them.

As classmates or colleagues, we are constantly challenged to do more, to be more and to go further.  Making it worse, there are leaders that put more focus on blame than improving the behavior required for potential success.  Be the one that takes time to remember the ups and down for what they were and to celebrate them in unique ways.  We get one trip around – enjoy moments a little more and stress over them a little less!  Celebrate mistakes, remember lessons learned.  You, your team and your friends will all be better for it.

2) Authentic Communication.

What a difference 30 years should make when it comes to our ability to communicate with classmates or with your colleagues in the workplace.  There is no doubt that all of us can improve how we speak to each other.  Being authentic in your communication mean letting people know what is expected of them, where they stand with you, and how much you value them.  Talking around corners and skipping critical conversations doesn’t build trust.  Avoiding confrontation doesn’t allow for valuable exchanges on improvement.  Saying what needs to be said – time and place appropriate – can be done with empathy, emotional intelligence and firmness.

A colleague shared once that she gives others the benefit of the doubt at the initial stage of conflict.  She trusts in the human condition and believes that inherently people want to do their best for the cause.  While I agree, it is necessary as leaders (and friends) that we not shy away from difficult conversations.  It’s also necessary to personally – and sincerely – engage in praise for others.  As proof of my dedication to Authentic Communication, here is my first blogging effort in 2008  I credit my Leadership Tallahassee experience with helping me commit to authentic communication as a leader.

3) Cheerlead and Congratulate.

I am guilty here – if you know me, you know me to be charismatic, energetic and positive.  As a player-coach leader, I strongly value team dynamics – especially in giving credit to the team and having their back when things don’t go so well.  Maturity over the years helped me realize that laying blame isn’t the first step in a crisis and that a leader should share good news (results) as a collective effort – not an individual one.  Cheering others on is a job of a leader – most people need that extrinsic support to stay motivated and to exceed expectations.

Admittedly, in my younger years (high school through early career) there was a drive to be recognized and given credit for any and all things I did.  Through mentoring, education, experience and some failures, the sense of satisfaction in seeing others succeed quelled my own personal interests.  Recognition is verbal respect.  Congratulate others in special ways to build relationships and loyalty.  Success is relative to the individual and aspirations vary from person to person, but the recognition should still be meaningful and as personable as possible.  Be attentive and curious!  The more we know about our classmates and our colleagues, the more unique our congratulations can be!

I am looking forward to my 30th reunion in New Smyrna Beach – a time to remember and celebrate, to communicate in authentic ways, and to cheer and congratulate classmates.  Take time to do those same things with your team today.

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