NextGen Leaders: Six ways to make room for the next generation of leaders

June 5, 2019

NextGen Series: This is the fourth article of five in our new series focused on the next generation of leadership in the nonprofit sector. Read the firstsecondthird, and fourth articles. There is also a corresponding webinar on June 13 for new & aspiring leaders - please click here for information and to register.

In this series, we have identified a major leadership gap coming up in the nonprofit sector. In the next 10 years there will be a significant number of retirements and/or moves out of the sector by senior leaders. We need to get ready for a leadership shift that will have a serious impact on our ability to continue to make social change. In my work with leaders and organizations, I have found some dynamics at play that will impact whether or not we will have future leaders that are ready to take up the reins. Senior leaders say that they don’t have any potential candidates that they consider able to step up into their role and younger staff talk about the role of Executive Director/CEO being too burdensome and not what they want to do in the future. However, this dynamic fails to take into account that we need to be intentional about helping people to move into leadership. We need to give people a chance to try out leadership rather than just relying on their own perceptions. To do that, we need to make room for the next generation of leaders. And that may be what we are not getting quite right.

Recently, I have had a number of coaching conversations with aspiring leaders that are struggling to get on the first rung of the leadership ladder. They are doing all the right things in terms of doing their research for the positions, applying for every opportunity, and making it known they want to advance. However, they are experiencing challenges to moving up that I would consider structural and require an active commitment by their organizations to make room for new leadership. We don’t realize that some of our policies and practices may be blocking the way for great talent to take the lead or learn new things. And if aspiring potential leaders do not get opportunities to develop their skills and advance in our organizations, they will move elsewhere and be someone else’s asset.

Here are six things you can do to make sure you are making room for up and coming leaders:

1. Do an audit of your HR practices. Find out where in your hiring and promotion process you might be creating barriers for people who have not yet had the title of leader. For example, we often rely a lot on what people have done previously to indicate to us what they can do in the future. We use ‘when did you?’ or ‘where did you?’ questions and have significant experiential requirements for many leadership positions. But when you are hiring for lower level leadership positions in particular, these questions can create a barrier for people who have not held a leadership position before. Even just adding a line that if potential candidates haven’t been in the situation before, they can tell you what they would do if they were, would help to make the process more accessible in your job postings. You can also use behavioural questions to pull out leadership behaviours that you are looking for in the position rather than direct experience. For example, ‘tell us about a time when you dealt with conflict effectively’ is better than ‘tell us about a time when you dealt with a conflict in your team as a leader’.

Similarly, when looking at promotions, focus on aptitude rather than job titles. This may seem like common sense but many HR processes have built in checkpoints that rely heavily on previous experience in the organization or on titles when shortlisting candidates. Too much box ticking eliminates the human interaction required to see someone could be promoted into leadership and do well if they had the chance.

2. Prioritize the pipeline. Often, leadership development resources are focused on current and senior leaders. Now they need support and training too. But, if we never invest in the next generation of leaders in our organizations, we will continually face transition issues and succession challenges. It is sometimes good to hire outside the organization to bring in ‘new blood’ and generate new thinking. However, we often don’t realize the potential of those already working for us because we have not invested in their development or given them room to show what they can do outside the narrow zone of their job description.

3. Check your biases. We all have unconscious and conscious biases and they impact how we view our world and other people. We can be biased about race, gender, age, disability, sexuality and even personality when we think about leadership in our own organizations. The nonprofit sector prides itself often on its inclusion and many of our organizations exist to promote diversity and inclusivity. However, when we are in a room of senior leaders, it becomes clear that something is happening between the writing of the policy and the recruitment into leadership positions. The diversity we say we are committed to is often not reflected in who has power in the sector. And, the next generation of leaders faces a double whammy on top of their own race, gender, etc as the narrative about ‘millennials’ is so negative. Younger people are talked about as ‘entitled’ or not wanting to do the work. It’s important to check the stories you hold as you are reading resumes and conducting interviews or in considering elevating people within your own organization.

4. Create ‘stretch’ opportunities. How can you see if someone can step up if they are never given the chance? Often, our organizations follow a traditional hierarchy approach and decision making is concentrated at the top. I could spend a great deal of time talking about the benefits of moving toward a shared leadership approach but for now, I want to just point out that if we never allow people to take the lead, they can’t become leaders. So, of course we can’t see their potential. Creating opportunities for people to ‘stretch’ themselves and participate in decision making can make a significant difference to whether your people see themselves as leaders in your organization too. Setting up working groups or action committees is a great way for people to take the lead on a particular piece of work. You can also elevate people to roles to give them a chance to try them out when a maternity leave occurs or a change in funding happens. Invite them to lead a project for a year but still have the option of them going back to their other role if either of you think it isn’t working out. No recriminations.

5. Take a people first approach. Often in organizations we view people based on their job role. We think of them in terms of their job description because that’s how we hired them. However, people are SO much more than the seven or eight points that you wanted them to have in your recruitment process. I once became Executive Director in an organization that was not doing well in terms of presence in the local community. Very few people had heard of the organization even though it had been around for almost 30 years. There was a woman doing reception work who turned out to be an amazing marketer. She was a genius with words and talented in graphic design. We had our own in-house marketing expert and didn’t even know it. I moved her into a communications role and the organization experienced significant growth in exposure and engagement. When you know your people and what they ‘love’ to do or can do, you will find your potential leaders.

6. Stop Looking for a ‘Mini-Me’. This is a tough one. I know. I was an Executive Director/CEO for over 15 years and I understand that it’s hard to think of someone completely different than us being able to do the job that we may have spent years building and shaping. But the reality is that someone else can do the job, even if they are not us. When we look at our people, we need to look at them with the lens of potential leader rather than potential doppelganger. Otherwise, we won’t see the possibilities. As mentioned above, we also bring our biases into recruitment and need to be careful of wanting to hire people that look like or are like us. Balance out the tendency to want to hire ourselves by having other staff, leaders, volunteers or even people you serve on the hiring committee for new leadership positions.

So try some things out. Grow your pipeline. Make some room for new and different people to take the lead. That’s how your hard work will continue and where your most important legacy lies. The next generation of leaders will be grabbing the baton and running with it to continue making progress in social change. Let’s make sure it’s a smooth handover so that they build on what we’ve done and hopefully get there faster.

Lianne Picot is a leadership coach, trainer and speaker that helps new & aspiring leaders to become INSPIRING leaders. She also helps organizations to ‘future proof’ through leadershiop development at all levels. Lianne has worked in the nonprofit sectors in the UK, Ireland and Canada for over 25 years as a practitioner, Executive Director and CEO. She is a Certified Executive Coach and a Part-time Instructor at The Chang School, Ryerson University, teaching in the Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Management Certificate program. Lianne is also the creator of ‘The Leadership Leap’, a 12 week affordable and accessible online leadership program for new & aspiring leaders. Connect with Lianne at or find out more about her services at and

SVP Calgary accepting applications for Fast Pitch 2019

June 4, 2019

Applications for SVP Calgary’s Fast Pitch 2019 are now live. Program runs September 11 to November 7. This year, there is no semi-final competition, meaning ALL participants will present their pitch live on stage in front of 400+ audience members at Telus Spark on November 7. Applications will be accepted in the following categories:

  • Collaboration: Two nonprofit organizations currently partnering on projects or programs will work side by side to perfect their pitch. At SVP Calgary, we have a theory there is amazing collaboration already happening in the nonprofit sector. And we think not enough people know about this! (4 teams of 2; 5 minute pitch)
  • SVP Calgary Investment Focus: Nonprofits that provide programming and/or services for 12-15 year olds building resiliency outside of school hours. (4 teams of 1, 3 minute pitch)
  • General: Any nonprofit doing great work in Calgary. (4 teams of 1, 3 minute pitch). Just like in previous years, we want to learn about interesting nonprofits doing great work in our city.

The deadline for applications is June 28, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. MDT.

“Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”: a straightforward story about bridging cultural differences

June 4, 2019

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel”: a straightforward story about bridging cultural differences - In this month’s blog post, I thought I would expand on one of the leadership strategies I introduced last month that could help to improve intercultural relationships, namely: avoid underestimating and discounting talent because of cultural differences. In so doing, I am also going to share a rather in-depth description and example of the kind of positive outcomes a leader could enjoy if she or he developed a few helpful habits.

Canada’s lack of digital accessibility is robbing its workforce of resilient talent

June 4, 2019

Canada’s lack of digital accessibility is robbing its workforce of resilient talent - Imagine for a moment that through no fault of your own, you lost your driver’s license. Then, thanks to commercialized innovation and legislative reform, you acquired an autonomous vehicle, which allowed you to regain your independence.

Government of Canada invites youth leaders to help build a more accessible Canada

June 4, 2019

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, recently announced several initiatives to support youth leaders in their efforts to build a more accessible Canada:

  • A new call for expressions of interest under the EAF Youth Innovation Component: youth interested in participating must identify accessibility barriers in public places or workplaces, and seek out interested organizations willing to work with them to develop an accessibility project proposal. Funding of up to $10,000 is available to eligible organizations.
  • A call for proposals under the Disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program to support capacity building and youth leadership: for projects that promote partnerships between youth-focused organizations and national disability organizations to develop the next generation of youth disability leaders, and facilitate succession planning and sustainability in the disability sector. Funding of $900,000 over three years is available for eligible projects.
  • a call for proposals under the Disability component of the Social Development Partnerships Program to address barriers to financial security of persons with disabilities: will provide $1.8 million over three years in funding to support projects aimed at identifying and testing innovative solutions to improving the financial situation of working-age Canadians with disabilities living in or near poverty.

Research reveals hiring hurdles from job posting to job offer

June 4, 2019

Recruiting is no walk in the park, according to new research from global staffing firm Robert Half. Canadian companies face a number of challenges throughout the hiring process, the greatest being generating interest from qualified candidates (32%) and developing compensation packages and negotiating salaries (20%), as reported by more than 600 senior managers. Making an offer to a candidate isn't the end of the recruiting road. When asked to name the most common reason prospective hires decide not to join their company, nearly three in 10 (28%) of senior managers said it's because applicants accepted another position or counteroffer. Twenty-five percent of senior managers said candidates turned down a job from their company because the compensation and benefits were lower than expected.

Purpose messages evoke greater attention and emotion, according to biometrics research

June 4, 2019

Americans are more likely to have a positive image of (89%), trust in (86%) and be loyal (83%) to brands that lead with Purpose, according to the 2019 Porter Novelli/Cone Purpose Biometrics Study. This first-of-its-kind biometrics study, examines not only what consumers say they will do to support responsible brands, but also how they feel and physically react when exposed to Purpose-driven messaging. By leading with Purpose and connecting with consumers on shared values, companies are poised to build significant and lasting relationships with individuals. Nearly eight-in-10 (79%) Americans say they feel a deeper personal connection to companies with values similar to their own. And, nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers believe Purpose-driven companies care about them and their families more. The emotional bonds formed by leading with Purpose inspires individuals to promote the brand in many ways:

  • 72% - Feel proud to be associated with the brand (e.g., wearing the company logo)
  • 74% - Tell others to buy products from that company
  • 62% - Share information about that company on their social networks

These ardent supporters are also keen to support Purpose-driven companies even in tough times. Seventy-five percent of Americans said they'd be more willing to forgive a company if it makes a misstep, and the same amount (75%) would defend that company if someone spoke badly of it.

#HearNowON seeks Ontario secondary student input on school mental health

June 4, 2019

School Mental Health Ontario - Santé mentale en milieu scolaire Ontario will engage secondary students across Ontario to hear student voices, improve youth engagement in school-based mental health programming, and inform a provincial student mental health leadership strategy. Through an online survey, and in-person forums, English and French students will have a voice in the development of mental health awareness and wellness promotion efforts in Ontario's publicly-funded schools. The online survey launches on June 3rd and will remain open until July 12th. The survey will be focused on student mental health knowledge needs and preferences. Regional forums will provide an opportunity for students to think together about ideas for promoting student mental health in Ontario schools, and how students can be engaged as leaders in school-based mental health initiatives. Forums are taking place in London, Ottawa, Thunder Bay and Toronto. Mental health support will be available at all forums.

Canada's youth develop a roadmap for Canada to achieve gender equality

June 4, 2019

The Youth-Led Roadmap for Gender Equality: A Plan to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 in Canada was released today. Developed by the Youth for Gender Equality (YGE) initiative, which was co-led by Plan International Canada and the Canadian Teachers' Federation, funded by TD Bank Group, and facilitated in partnership by more than 20 organizations, the Roadmap provides tangible actions for individual Canadians, the private sector, and government at all levels to take towards gender equality in Canada.

The uniquely youth-led Roadmap reflects the powerful perspectives of over 300 youth from all over Canada with diverse experiences and backgrounds, such as youth who have experienced homelessness, Indigenous youth, young people of colour, newcomers to Canada and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, among others, as well as individuals from remote and rural communities in Canada.

The Roadmap includes 20 recommendations that individual Canadians can take today to achieve gender equality within their homes, communities and beyond. It also includes more than 40 additional recommendations targeted at public institutions, the private sector and governments to help Canada achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender equality, by the goals' end date of 2030.

Canada and partners announce new legacy investments to support women’s rights and gender equality

June 3, 2019

Through the Department for Women and Gender Equality, the Government of Canada is entering into three funding agreements with organizations that will match up to $30 million of federal funding into gender equality efforts. The new matching partnerships with Community Foundations of Canada, Canadian Women’s Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada, will provide funding to women’s organizations in Canada. Through Global Affairs Canada, the government is investing $300 million to bring the granting, philanthropic and investment worlds together into a single platform, working with the Equality Fund, selected through a competitive process, to establish this innovative platform.

The Equality Fund will not only create a sustainable and predictable source of funding for women’s rights organizations and movements in developing countries, but will also shift how investment decisions are made for gender equality outcomes: by providing resources directly to women’s rights organizations and by making investments that support gender equality. The Equality Fund has mobilized initial investments of $100 million as a result of the Government of Canada’s initial $300 million commitment. The Equality Fund will also mobilize funding for women’s rights organizations in Canada.

Vancouver’s annual digital nonprofit conference about to kick off

May 29, 2019

For its fifth year in a row, the Digital Nonprofit Conference continues to expand! With tickets selling fast, don’t miss your chance to come to Vancouver’s best nonprofit conference on June 11th. This year, over 200 nonprofit professionals will hear keynotes from Beth Kanter, Vu Le, Shoni Fields, Ryann Miller, and many other presenters. You’ll get to learn how to manage digital teams, create a culture of wellbeing, lead in this digital age, and advance your marketing strategies. This full day-event will be packed with strategies and tactics for you to take back to your teams, networking opportunities, and of course, lots of coffee and food! Last minute tickets still available here.

Hamilton philanthropists create $100M+ endowment to fund health research

May 29, 2019

Hamilton philanthropists Charles and Margaret Juravinski will create an endowment of more than $100 million to support researchers across Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Their estate gift is one of Canada’s largest ever legacy gifts and will provide up to $5 million a year to the institutions, in perpetuity. The endowment will create the Juravinski Research Centre, which will equally support Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton by funding health research in a variety of areas including cancer, mental health, lung and respiratory care, and diseases of aging.

Funding available from the Ottawa Community Foundation for youth employment projects

May 29, 2019

For a fourth and final year the Ottawa Community Foundation’s New Leaf Community Challenge (NLCC) will focus on improving youth employment in the Ottawa region. All initiatives that would boost youth employment, and/or improve employment outcomes for both youth and employers, are welcome. That said we are also particularly interested in effective approaches to:

  • Enable youth to acquire and to have proof of the skills, in particular “softer” skills, that many employers perceive to be lacking; and to also build employer recognition of “hidden” skills that may be work-relevant.
  • Help interested youth move from entry-level and/or non-standard to more career-oriented work.

Proposals can be for a new initiative, but can also involve the scale up or replication of an existing successful initiative. The deadline for initial idea briefs is June 19, 2019.

Limiting beliefs that hinder fundraising success

May 29, 2019

Limiting beliefs that hinder fundraising success - As an experienced fundraiser and leader you might not remember all the limiting beliefs that held you back at the start of your career. Many of those beliefs are tied to the fears that surround asking such as: 1) “I don’t know how to ask”, 2) “I’m too embarrassed to ask”, 3) “I don’t know who to ask”, 4) “I don’t have time to ask”, and 5) “If I ask, they will say no”.

49 free nonprofit webinars for June 2019

May 29, 2019

49 free nonprofit webinars for June 2019 - June brings sunshine and flowers, so what better way to keep your allergies at a distance than attending free, educational nonprofit webinars? Topics this month include grant application help, nonprofit marketing career growth, proposal writing, using surveys for nonprofits, volunteer management, and LOTS more.

Seven steps toward building resiliency

May 29, 2019

Seven steps toward building resiliency - How do you define resiliency? Many define resiliency as the ability to bounce back from a setback. Some refer to it as one’s ability to push through difficult times. Following a keynote speech recently, this definition of resiliency was shared: Putting the pieces of a dropped vase back together as close to the original form as possible, knowing that sometimes it’s impossible to put things back exactly, which results in the creation of a new normal.

Eight awesome strategies to convert volunteers into donors

May 29, 2019

An effective volunteer program is a truly incredible feat. Your supporters are coming to your nonprofit to donate their time. With the hustle and bustle of the world today, it’s amazing that people have any free time at all, and they give away that free time and ask for nothing in return.

When it comes to asking your volunteers to donate, you may feel uncomfortable or even guilty for asking them to give even more. But when you think about it from the perspective of the volunteer, they’re working with your nonprofit because they want to help. Therefore, your nonprofit should never feel guilty about leading volunteers to donation opportunities.

Notice how we said that you should “lead” your volunteers to the “opportunity.” The ultimate decision to give is up to the supporter.

There’s already a natural inclination for your supporters to donate. In fact, 87% of volunteers say there is overlap between the organizations they volunteer for and those they donate to. Many times, simply providing the opportunity to give is enough to convince volunteers.

We’ve compiled a couple of strategies to help your nonprofit lead your volunteers to donate. These strategies include:

  1. Track all engagement metrics in your donor database.
  2. Improve the volunteer experience as much as possible.
  3. Acknowledge your volunteers as strongly as you do your donors.
  4. Simply ask your volunteers to donate.
  5. Don’t apply too much pressure in your donation ask.
  6. Tell everyone about volunteer grants.
  7. Don’t forget to say thank you.
  8. Celebrate your volunteers.

Ready to show your appreciation for volunteers while boosting your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts? Let’s dive in to learn more!

1. Track all engagement metrics in your donor database.

Too many nonprofits only focus on donors and donation amounts when they set up their donor database. These organizations forget that other engagement metrics are just as important as donations.

When you customize your CRM, be sure you set it up to track your supporters’ engagement metrics such as volunteer hours, event attendance, email open rates, social media interactions, survey results, and more.

These metrics give an indication as to the relationship a donor has with your organization. From this complete donor profile, your nonprofit can better nurse the relationship, identify even more engagement opportunities, and best craft a personalized donation ask.

If your CRM doesn’t support the storage of these engagement metrics, it may be time to rethink your choice in databases. Check out Bloomerang’s CRM buyer’s guide to find the best software solution for your nonprofit.

2. Improve the volunteer experience as much as possible.

Put yourself in the shoes of your organization’s volunteers for a moment. Why do they volunteer with your nonprofit? What drives them? How could you make their experiences better so that they’ll keep coming back?

Volunteers may come to your nonprofit for any number of reasons. They probably chose to volunteer for your nonprofit because they believe in your mission, but there are some personal motives behind volunteering as well. Your volunteers may be looking to network with new people, sharpen soft skills, gain experience, develop new skills, build their resume, and more.

By considering the personal motives that your volunteers have, you can adjust your volunteer program to help them meet their goals.

When you help your volunteers reach their goals by improving their experiences, you’ll keep them coming back and grow your program. A growing program naturally encourages donations because of the overlap between volunteers and donors.

3. Acknowledge your volunteers as strongly as you do your donors.

Many nonprofits make the mistake of focusing so heavily on their financial donors that they forget that their volunteers are also donating. They’re donating time and energy to work with your nonprofit. Therefore, volunteers should be acknowledged just as donors are.

That means the same stewardship rules apply to volunteers as they do to donors. Thank you phone calls, handwritten notes, personal emails and videos should be employed for volunteers with the same earnestness as you would towards donors.

If you segment your donation acknowledgments by gift amount, you can do the same by measuring the work of your volunteers. It’s a difficult step to quantify the work your volunteers do, but this is the first step to showing them their impact.

Start by measuring the impact of your volunteers in your donor management software. Try measuring things like the total volunteer hours or projects completed. Then you can create a volunteer program annual report from the collected data or otherwise recognize the work.

Sometimes, simply showing impact is enough for recognizing volunteers. Make sure your volunteer program annual report accurately exemplifies your organization’s appreciation. They want to see the results of the incredible work they’ve done and to hear your organization say “thank you.”

4. Simply ask your volunteers to donate.

Many nonprofits feel guilty asking their volunteers to give to their organization. They feel as though the volunteer has already given so much that they don’t want to ask them to give any more. In reality, if volunteers are not already donating money, it may be because they don’t know where or how to give.

Simply asking for donations can lead your volunteers to the correct location to give. Your job is to ask and show them how they can further contribute to your mission.

Leverage your fundraising software to send appealing asks to your volunteers. But be sure you don’t harass them. Tell them that their work is appreciated and that if they want to further support your mission, they can give.

Some volunteers may actually think it’s odd that you haven’t ever asked them!

5. Don’t apply too much pressure in your donation ask.

As we stated in the last section, don’t harass your volunteers to give. If you ask them over and over again for money, they’re likely to get frustrated with your organization and may not return to volunteer again.

Instead of approaching volunteers like any other donor, take the pressure off and introduce them to ways they can give that will impact their role.

One of the major myths about volunteering is that people are only motivated by money. In fact, people are also motivated by knowing that they made a difference. If you give a volunteer the opportunity to give that is directly related to their volunteering, they’ll feel as though they’re making an even bigger difference.

For instance, if you’re hosting a canned food drive, you might tell donors, “If you want to further help the cause, contribute to our transportation fund to transport these cans to food banks all over the city!”

6. Tell them about volunteer grants.

Did you know you can collect donations from your volunteers without ever asking them to give a dime? Many companies have volunteer grants available for their employees.

If volunteers are eligible for such grants, they simply need to fill out a form and say how many hours they volunteered. The company will donate money to the nonprofit as a match for their employee’s hours spent volunteering.

The trouble is that many volunteers don’t know about their eligibility. Ask volunteers to check their eligibility by typing their employer’s name into a matching gift database to see if they can obtain these volunteer grants.

360MatchPro’s list of the top matching gift companies can give you an idea of the huge companies that have these types of programs.

7. Don’t forget to say thank you.

As we said in the beginning, an effective volunteer program is truly incredible and it’s your volunteers who make it all possible. So remember to thank them. Unique ways to say thanks stem from the interests, goals, and motivations of your volunteers.

Listen to your volunteers in surveys, conversations, and other opportunities for communication to learn what’s important to them. Then, make notes about these items in your donor database.

You can use this information to send more personalized thank-you messages to volunteers. For instance, you may offer education opportunities, mentorship, or other growth opportunities to show your appreciation.

8. Celebrate your volunteers.

It’s one thing to thank your volunteers for giving their time, but it’s another thing to celebrate that giving. In addition to saying thank you, be sure to recognize them in other ways. For instance, you may choose to:

  • Feature volunteers on social media platforms.
  • Point out volunteers with the most hours in your annual report.
  • Provide custom t-shirts for your volunteers with your nonprofit’s logo.
  • Send hand-written cards thanking them for their hard work.

If the t-shirt idea caught your eye, click here to get more information about how to customize merchandise to meet the needs of your nonprofit. Your volunteers can wear them to your nonprofit’s next event and show off their volunteerism.

Anyone can send an email thanking someone for their time. Taking an extra step encourages your volunteers to build their relationship with your organization. Building that relationship improves the chances of volunteers donating to your nonprofit.

Volunteers are a great resource for your nonprofit. They also are some of the most likely individuals to donate. Encourage them to do so by stewarding your relationship with volunteers and showing them how they can make an even bigger difference for your mission.

Jay B. Love is a Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth.

Why you need to strengthen your character to lead better

May 29, 2019

Want to learn how to build trust with your nonprofit team? We've partnered with the author for a free webinar on June 6 for nonprofit leaders on this topic. Click here for details and to register.

What you do and what you say is not nearly as important as who you are being when you say and do those things. Who you are being; the type of person you are and way you say and do things matters more than the content of what you say or the specific action you take.

It’s your character.

We spent a lot of time spouting our accomplishments, quoting the letters after our name and informing others of our title. Our resume is a chronological list of what we’ve done. We worry if we have the right training and the right experience to do our job. However, telling everyone what we have done, impacts those around us than the demonstration of the type of person we are.

Your character matters.

Research has shown that our character, or perhaps more aptly put, our lack of character is the biggest reason for leadership failure.

  • Leaders without integrity fail to gain the trust of their team.
  • Leaders who have no courage fail to rally those around them to do the risky work.
  • Leaders without the ability to exercise self-control fly off the handle, fall apart emotionally or make snap judgments.
  • Leaders who have little hope and optimism create a doom and gloom environment which isn’t much fun to work in.

Character can make or break us.

Take a moment to consider a leader you admire. What is it that you admire about them? My guess is that it isn’t their title or their accomplishments, but the type of person they were to get there. We admire:

  • A leader who persists despite the odds against them and their team.
  • A leader who demonstrates humility by asking the team for ideas.
  • A leader who is willing to see things from different perspectives.
  • A leader who leads with integrity is brave, honest, passionate, fair, curious or has a good sense of humour.

We admire leaders with strong character.

Despite intrinsically knowing that character counts immensely in leadership, we rarely talk about how to develop it in ourselves and in others. However, your character can be developed. What’s more, you can help those around you to build their character. Focusing on who you are and who you are becoming, developing your character, takes intentional awareness and action.

  • First, you need to understand what character is and why it matters so much. You can learn more by watching The Science of Character. This is an 8-minute documentary that explores the neuroscience and social science that proves that we can shape who we are, and who we want to be in the world.
  • Then, you start by identifying your signature character strengths. Knowing what makes you unique helps you to use your characters strengths more. You can do that by taking the VIA Signature strengths assessment here. It will take you less than 10 minutes.
  • Finally, you need to create a plan for how you will use your signature character strengths more often. Essentially, you start to ask yourself these two questions:
    • Who am I and who am I becoming?
    • How can I be a better version of myself?

You can develop and strengthen your character.

Strengthening and developing your character takes time. It helps to have mentors along with you on the journey! In September as part of the Global Character Day Events, I hosted a series of interviews. These conversations were with women leaders, mentors, coaches, educators and consultants. We talked about what it’s like to cultivate character in “the real world.” If you would like to watch those videos, click here to gain access to them. In the interviews you will:

  • Discover why we need to focus on character development in leadership and why this discussion is particularly critical for women leaders.
  • Find yourself engrossed in a conversation between women as we uncover how to cultivate your character traits so that you can lead with your strength of character.

Let’s start a dialogue about developing leaders with strong character.

By investing in developing your character, you will find that you not only have a more significant impact as a leader but that you will feel happier as well. When we align the way we lead with who we are, allowing our strengths to shine, we are more influential, more impactful and find we are more content with the work we do. Take a moment to ask your self: Who am I and who am I becoming? Then consider how you can develop your character and lead with your strength of character.

Resources for more information:

Kathy Archer is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership & find balance in life. She mentors women as they rediscover their purpose, passion, and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses and the challenges of family life. Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive changes in their lives. Discover more in Kathy’s book Mastering Confidence: Discover Your Leadership Potential by Awakening Your Inner Guidance System.

The 2019 Alberta Nonprofit Survey is now underway

May 28, 2019

The Alberta Nonprofit Survey is an opportunity to share your views and to help tell the story of Alberta's nonprofit sector. Your participation is critical to telling that story. Last year's survey informed the State of the Sector report and raised the voices of nonprofits across Alberta through the invaluable participation of survey respondents. The 2019 report, which will be released this fall, will include:

  • Shared experiences of nonprofits in Alberta that help inform decision-making and communications.
  • Priorities of the sector that help inform strategic planning for nonprofits and policy advocacy.
  • Information about the strengths and challenges in the sector that helps educate and inform a range of stakeholders, including funders and governments.

Submissions to the survey are instrumental in advocating for the sector. This year, the survey has been simplified and will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Please complete the survey and share it with your networks beginning today through June 30.

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