How to build a great nonprofit
How would you like a process that can help your people deal with changes faster and easier than you ever thought possible? What if the process not only opened you and your team to endless possibilities but also ensured faster buy-in from all the various stakeholders you impact. I’ve been guiding serving leaders through change for over 20 years, from small startup businesses to family businesses over 100 years old continuing to change to keep up with the many challenges businesses face as they grow and prosper. In one client engagement, I was dealing with a large medical practice. I was assigned a psychiatrist to work with to determine how medical professionals deal with change in high stress specialties. I asked several of my better clients to be involved in the pilot program. This allowed me to explore the topic further and it gave me access to a great team of people who deal with high stress on a regular basis.
I can’t imagine a much more stressful job than running a small or mid-market privately-held business today. I share the best process I found and help you apply it to your life starting today. I use this four step process when dealing with my clients to help them see the possibilities in their life and organizations. The process is called Appreciative Inquiry Method and was originally developed by David Cooperrider, PhD. He has continued developing and evolving the process over the years. Continue reading
I’ve been involved in succession planning since the late 70’s. It was the first consulting job I did with clients and I still am actively working with organizations on their talent management and succession planning. I’ve worked on over 100 succession plans for key clients and partner organizations.
The first reason succession planning is not done is because there is always something more important to do. For most entrepreneurs, they are still actively involved in their business. They can find a hundred other things to do than talk to about who will lead their organization after their gone. Over 50% of my client s don’t put an emphasis on organizational sustainability. They are brilliant at what they do. In many cases, they’ve created visionary organizations. The problem for many is that they cannot see a time when they won’t be involved in their business. So why invest time into something that won’t build a lasting leadership legacy. My challenge is to get them to face their own mortality and still remain a long term client.
The second reason there is no succession plan is the founder doesn’t feel that someone else can do their job. For many in North American men, their lives are so tightly aligned with their careers, take away one and the other begins to falter. I have found than many market leading organizations begin failing when the founder can no longer see the future. Since many of my clients are technology based, the leader is unable to deal with disruptive technologies and capabilities in their markets. As their technologies mature, the type of leadership required also changes. Since many entrepreneurs are controlling by nature, when change begins to occur they may hold on tighter to the leadership of the organization. Leaders who have built significant organizations are not willing to bring in leadership that may add another dimension to their organization. In the worst case, they may begin chasing the out their successors, either because of fear of the unknown or they’re afraid they’ll be thrown out before they’re ready to go. The other part of this is that the leader can misread their own health and drive. They don’t notice health problems until it’s too late. I’ve seen several of my clients die before their successor is chosen. Sometimes it’s not a health issue but a random act the owner suffers. I’ve seen at least several senior leaders die in unexpected plane crashes and, in one case, it took out 3 of his successors. In the military, there are always succession plans to follow. You should have one too.
The final reason succession plans fail is that the leaders and their leadership teams underestimate the impact of a new leader on their organization. When Jack Welch named Jeffrey Immelt as his successor, several key executives left to run other organizations within several months. In the case of GE, they had incredible leadership depth to call on after the executives left. When a new CEO is named in a midmarket organization he or she may lose a critical member of the leadership team. If you’re in a small nonprofit, the moment you promote a new managing director, several of your team members may begin looking for roles outside the organization. You must be prepared to deal with these situations. The better you are prepared for the worst the less harmful it will be to your organization. We will talk more about how to do this in a future blog.
The challenges for a smaller business may also include a financial component to the succession plan. In many privately held organizations, when a team member on the leadership team leaves there is financial burden that the organization takes on. Since the stock is not publically traded many times the cash payout for private stock can cause additional hardship to the organization. I’ve also seen many smaller organizations struggle to pay both the former CEO and their replacement the compensation they feel due to them. This can undue and unnecessary stress during their transition.
Next week after the succession strategy conference, I will bring back the financial piece of the succession strategies process. For many of you CEO and Managing Directors, you will find this next blog incredibly helpful. I’ve got my copy of CFO for Dummies out and I’m not afraid to use it. Next week, we will share the financial secrets of succession strategies. See you next week.
Many of the people I worked with in military intelligence had a different view of the act of war. Many were detached from the reality of war and the consequences of how they presented their findings impacting civilian leadership decisions. After I read General Schwarzkopf’s autobiography I began developing a better understanding of what our military officers had to deal with on the field of battle. I started asking my military colleagues different questions about how they applied key leadership concepts to the military.
There were three keys I took from General Schwarzkopf’s writing. They helped me shape my discussions with military and executive branch leaders after 9/11. I also understood some of the people I worked with had worked with General Schwarzkopf. So quoting from Schwarzkopf’s book would not give me instant credibility with these men and women. I had to try to incorporate these lessons in our overall discussions on what we were trying to accomplish in our service academies.
The first key I shared was “When placed in command, take charge.” My team was made up of leaders from all branches of the military and many were trained to work well in a command and control system. I wanted them to be able to slip in and out of leadership roles as the situation changes. This was a different view than many of my peers proposed. I shared several examples of why leadership needed to be individual, as well as team based. Today, you can see this strategy working in many of our best frontline military leaders.
The second key was “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in battle.” When working with the military you learn they leave very little to chance and everything to choice. They constantly drill and work on the details of their missions. They keep drilling so they are prepared for almost every eventuality. Their team members know their roles and are able to move at incredible speed when operating in the field. This provides their commanders incredible flexibility in dealing with any enemy. I’ve seen similar agility in other high performing teams of first responders in Ohio. These teams drill and then drill again until everything is working at 110 %. That extra 10% save lives in the field. You can only get it by working hard in drills.
The third key was “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy.“ This quote was the capstone of our new strategy framework. When in doubt, rely on character to carry the day. I share this with every executive I work with. Most professors I work with stress strategy as the critical element to an organization’s success. I’ve found the opposite is true. The more character the organization’s leaders have, the more likelihood of enduring success. I’ve seen this work for many of the leaders I’ve worked with for the past 30 years. In an era where leaders’ careers are measured in 2 or 3 year cycles, many of my clients’ leaders have been serving for decades in their roles. When asked why their success has lasted so long they always share it’s about character.
This leaves me with my favorite quote in regards to General Schwarzkopf. He said, “True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that’s what courage is.”
Thank you, General Schwarzkopf for teaching me about the true nature of serving leadership. Rest in peace, Sir. Your lessons on leadership will shape future generations of leaders around the world.
First, to attract great advisors, become a great connector. Today there are so many different ways to connect with people that your first real decision is to decide who you would like to have on your team. This sounds easier than it is to accomplish. I always train my teams to start a relationship with a question, not an answer. I learned this from several of my best mentors but it’s all about what you can bring to the other person. If you lead with a humble attitude and a clear understanding of what you want, you will be surprised at who pitches in to help when you ask. You should always be open to making an introduction to others in your network.
Second, do your homework. When you ask for a favor you should know who you asking. Before you pick up the phone or send a formal introduction, do your homework. Take the time to research the person to determine why they should take your call and what you may be able to give back to them. When I first started working with Berkshire Hathaway, I researched Ralph Schey, the CEO of Scott & Fetzer, a subsidiary of Berkshire. I called several friends and told them I was looking for either an introduction to him or a better understanding of who he was. As I began my research, I uncovered several interesting facts that I thought might help me get Ralph on the phone. After reading several biographies of Ralph, I found that I had several direct connections to Ralph. There were three that stood out: He graduated from Harvard, he had a military background, and finally, he owned Kirby Vacuum. I had friends in both the military and at Harvard that would have been happy to introduce me. But I had worked for Kirby. I was one of their top sales professionals in the early 80s and knew that company inside and out. I chose to approach Ralph through a mutual friend at Kirby.
Third, earn the right to an introduction. I approached Ralph Schey only after I went out and met with my friends at Kirby. After uncovering several unique challenges facing them at Kirby, I helped them create a unique solution to their problem. This served as a way of earning credibility. With that credibility, they felt comfortable introducing me to Ralph. Without the earlier success at solving their problem, it might have been awkward pursuing a meeting. With the success and the time spent working with one of his companies, I knew quite a bit about the corporate culture and the unique challenges facing his companies. The lesson here; don’t be in too much of a hurry to build a better connection. The more visible the person is, the more time you might need to invest to begin a relationship.
So how do you build a stronger relationship from the very start of your partnership? A critical element of success is knowing the right person to help your client. You should be able to call on any number of people who can help your client achieve their goals. To do this you must have a strong understanding of what expertise other people have and what roles they are comfortable playing in partnership with you. Over my career I’ve made it a practice to ask every person I talk with a question which allows me to effectively categorize their expertise and what they do best. The question can vary depending on their experience and strengths but I make sure I understand what they are great at. I make a note of that expertise and follow-up on a regular basis to keep up with their careers and lives.
People are always surprised what I remember about them. It helps to take an active interest in their lives.
Now that you know how to get that introduction, how do you become an advisor to those with whom you connect? It’s not just hocus-pocus. It’s a learnable skill. Next week I’ll begin to share with you the steps required to become a trusted advisor to your network and deepen your connections with clients.
So I thought it might be helpful to share several tips I pass on to my clients to help them get the most out of their busy schedules. I wish I could take credit for them but I learned several from Mark H. McCormack, the former Chairman of IMG. When I got my first promotion to General Manager, a friend gave me a ticket to hear Mark talk about how to be a stronger leader at Harvard Business Club in Cleveland. What impressed me about Mark was how straightforward his advice was. For those who don’t remember Mark, he is the writer of “What they Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School. “He also created and led IMG which changed the way business was done with well-known athletes. His early successes with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus changed the marketing world forever.
Here are four tips from Mark McCormack on how to end your day on time.
1. Start an hour earlier. You’ll be amazed at how much work you can accomplish at 6:30 AM. You can return calls, set up meetings, and put together an agenda for your day ahead. For many of my best clients, they invest their first hour in looking at the bigger issues of their business undisturbed. If you’re calling on senior executives, many will answer their own phones at this time. They are more relaxed knowing they are dealing with someone who has a similar respect for their time. It also a wonderful opportunity to set up appointments because many of these very busy leaders can squeeze you in when their assistants wouldn’t. When I’m working with my West Coast clients, I always schedule them for 6:30AM PST and get most of my heavy lifting done early in the day.
2. Work when you have to work. If you have to work make sure you focus on what you have to accomplish. Many leaders are challenged by having time vampires in their lives. By focusing on results driven time management style you can accomplish incredible things in the day and still have time for outside work activities. Guard your work time with your life. Effective executives don’t do everything; they do the things that lead to the results they desire. One of my best known clients has his time broken down into 10 minute increments giving him one to two additional meets per hour. It also keeps his schedule moving and he feels refreshed at the end of a day.
3. Shorten your phone calls. How do you shorten your phone calls? My tip is schedule shorter meeting and keeps a stop watch next to the phone. When I’m working on certain projects I keep an eye on my watch next to the phone so when I talk with people I know how long we have been talking. This doesn’t mean I’m abrupt. I just set out guidelines in my correspondence so that we both know what’s on the agenda. If you client wants a longer time they can ask for it. You would be amazed how efficient you can become when you’re prepared and so is the person on the other end of the phone.
4. Learn to say no. This one is the final tip for today but I can guarantee if you do no other tip and just do this one you will be shocked at how your schedule opens up. One exercise I recommend is figure out your hourly rate. If the activity doesn’t return that amount or more you might not be leveraging your time correctly. For many clients, I find getting them to look at these numbers before they have to creates a significant opportunity to better understand where they are investing their most valuable asset, their time. For many highly successful executives, this is the hardest thing to do. Once they start looking at their ROE or return on efforts, the faster they start delegating the things they shouldn’t be doing. Once you learn to say no you free up your time to do the things that only you can do.
All of these tips are easy to understand and do. But it is also easy not to do them. I find the best way to implement these ideas is to pick the one you want to start with and then do it for thirty days to make it a habit. After you complete the first one add a second one and repeat the process. Once you see how powerful these tips are you will want to share them with your direct reports and so on. I’ve seen executives double and triple their effectiveness in less than thirty days. Once you see the results you won’t ever want to go back to the way you used to run your day. If you teach them to others, you will be gaining more productivity from them but also creating the habit for yourself. This builds value in your relationship with others by providing them with a lifelong skill they can use for the rest of their careers.
I spent the last several weeks on the road with new technology clients learning more about big data and mobile technologies. No matter what the technology, I always spend my initial consultation looking at the leadership team to better understand how the organization works. I’m looking for clues to what makes the organization tick. Why will this organization succeed while other competitors go out of business in the first twelve months? With technology life cycles getting faster and faster you need an edge.
All great organizations I’ve worked with have a simple message that moves easily across the organization and out to stakeholders in the field. Every great organization’s leaders had a teachable point of view. These great organizations where led by great teachers. I thought it might be helpful to share how to develop a teachable point of view. Noel Tichy helped Jack Welch create the next generation of GE leaders around the world. Several of his programs’ students became CEOs of Fortune 100 companies and others have served in roles of CFO and COO in high tech high growth organizations. When you listen to Jack Welch talk you can see how powerful a teachable point of view is to an organization’s leaders. He still uses it today to share his thinking on key business issues with CEOs around the world. He’s a great teacher and he helps his executives breakthrough the all the noise. So, how do you create a teachable point of view? There are three key parts to teachable point of view.
The first part of the teachable point of view is the idea. Winning organizations are built on clear ideas. These ideas must be current and applicable to the situation they are being used in. The ideas are the framework for action at all levels of the organization. The ideas or concepts help define what the organization is or is not. It allows the leader to make much faster decisions on what to invest in, what businesses should they buy, and ultimately, where should they invest their resources for the most profitable growth.
The second part of a teachable point of view is values. For the last several weeks, we talked about your values. What you discover using a teachable point of view is that organizations have values, as well. The stronger the organization’s values the more successful the organization. These values can help you understand how the organization should do business. Many organizations, both profit and nonprofit, are unclear in their values and struggle to differentiate themselves from other organizations in their stakeholders’ minds. These values are not just talking points for the organization but are guidelines for how the operation operates and makes decisions. For great organizations hiring becomes much easier because they can share their values during the hiring process to insure they get the right people for their organization’s needs.
The final part of a teachable point of view is emotional energy. Emotional energy provides power behind your teachable point of view. Winning leaders must be high energy people. In many ways, if you’re not energetic about your point of view no one else will be. Winning leaders create energy among their team members. They understand that without motivation people fail. Emotional energy is a catalyst to keep people keeping on. If you’re the leader and you are not a high energy person, your leadership will fail. Now let me step back from that for a moment. Does this mean if I don’t have charisma I will fail as a leader? I believe there are many ways to provide energy. I’ve worked with introverted leaders and people who were afraid to get in front of a group but they were capable of creating a connection with their followers and able to provide support in many different ways. I actually find introverted people to be much more capable leaders because they remain focused on the stakeholders’ needs and provide the right systems and processes for individuals to excel in their cultures. This provides them an edge in area of executive development and succession planning.
We’ve talked about the three keys to a teachable point of view and how it impacts your organization’s effectiveness. Next week, I’ll share how becoming a better teacher can help you become a better leader. I will share several examples of teachable points of view and how you might apply it to your organization to take it to the next level.
Today, our discussion will help you understand why you did the sentence completions and how the answers to the different sentences impact your beliefs. This part of the blog helps you as a leader better understand how to use these tools with your team members and clients. It’s great to know your own beliefs, but it’s just as critical for you to understand how to use the tools in working with your team.
Before you hire your next star salesperson, it might be helpful to see how they see the world. Over 80% of executives feel they’ve hired the wrong person for a critical role in their organization at some point in their career. If you know how people you hire see the world, you will be better prepared to help them succeed in their role. When I worked with the military, there was a saying we used during a promotion process: it’s better to dodge a bullet than to take one. Knowing what to expect from fellow team members multiplies your success in the field. This is not a bad thing to consider when you decide who to hire and when to promote team members. So, having a tool to bring out the beliefs in individuals on your team is a powerful strategy.
The I am sentence completion is the most powerful of the three because it’s quick and taps into our basic beliefs about ourselves. However, yourself image is formed at a very early age and is many times shaped by other people around you. If you were brought up in a positive environment, you are more likely to possess stronger I am statements and can define yourself quickly and more easily than the other statements you completed. Look at what you said about yourself and ask yourself, “Is this based on my actual experience or someone else’s?” You might also want to ask yourself if these beliefs are ever challenged in the real world.
Let’s take a look at how you completed the I succeed sentence. What if you answered I succeed because I work harder than anyone else. What does it say about how you see the world? This type of belief is very powerful. There certainly is no reason to challenge such a true belief. Why don’t we explore this belief for a moment? Do you really believe it? Have you experienced success because of it? Where did it come from? It sounds correct, but let’s did a little deeper into it. Has this belief ever limited your ability to achieve a goal? Do you allow it to shape how you live your life? What bigger ideas does this belief challenge? For example, is wealth today created by only hard work? Is Bill Gates really working a million times harder than you? Can this belief keep you from increasing your effectiveness? Does it serve your greater purpose if you believe it’s true? Many people believe that if you work hard you succeed because life is always fair. Sometimes, it’s not. So when you look at this sentence completion, be aware that many of these beliefs are cultural or hand me down beliefs. They may have worked in the past but the world is constantly evolving. The values you inherited sometimes limit your success. Are you willing to change your beliefs if they turn out to be limiting you?
The final sentence completion is I respect others when they …for example, speak their minds. This completion tells you how you would like to be treated. The challenge to these beliefs is they can limit your opportunities. If you have the belief that you only work with people who have similar beliefs you miss many growth opportunities. We tend to grow more when we are exposed to people with different beliefs because they make us stretch. We do not have a limit on the number of beliefs we can have. We can adopt new beliefs, alter them, or get rid of our own if they no longer serve our greater purpose. Once you begin exploring your beliefs, you will be able to better understand yourself and the world we live in. If your beliefs are limiting, so is your life. To be become better at dealing with change you must improve the way you understand yourself and others. Understanding beliefs can take your life to a new level of excellence. If you have any questions about exploring your beliefs please drop me a line and I can share additional information that can help take your life to the next level.
How do you reach your goals in such challenging times? It’s the number one question my clients ask me in my private coaching practice. We have experienced a prolonged economic downturn that many entrepreneurs have not seen since the early 80’s. I thought it might be helpful for you to understand why you’re experiencing some of the failures facing you and what you can do to change it. With less than three month before the elections in 2012, I think we’re just beginning to see the negative ads ratcheting up on both sides of the aisle. You must learn to master your beliefs or you will be manipulated into making decisions that you may regret for the rest of your life and negatively impact those people you care for. Negative political advertising works but leaves the population with a feeling of victimhood that lasts for a long time and, in some cases, is passed on from generation to generation. I want to help you understand why it might be working on you and your friends and what you can do to make the best choices for you.
I have spent the past 25 plus years working with leaders around the world that have led their organizations through every kind of recession imaginable. This one has some major differences and some major similarities. I believe the reasons my clients have done well in uncertain economic times are some that I will share with you today and next week. The blog this week will address something I spend significant time on with my clients at the beginning of our relationship. I want to share it with you because some of you, at some point in the not too distant future, will be working with me. To be honest, I’d like to give you an edge before we start working together. My other motive is that if you don’t think these things are important to you, I know that I can’t help you get to the next level in your life or your organization.
The number one factor impacting your success in the future and the past is your belief system. It’s just that simple. If I can help you become aware of your beliefs and help you understand the impact of them I can help you become more successful. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? The beliefs that got you here will not get you where you want to go next. Some of your beliefs will be strengthened and other must be discarded.
Now, what are beliefs? Beliefs are the ideas and the ways you see the world. They are your operating system, your software, if you will. They are always evolving but they define who you are and how you view and interpret the world. It’s why twins can grow up in the same environments and learn the same things and become two completely different people. There are many different kinds of beliefs and their impact can be seen in the smallest acts to largest ideas we share with others. Some people have highly flexible beliefs while others are unwilling to change their thinking or beliefs. Neither view is right or wrong, but it can create significant differences in how we see the world and the results we can create.
Over the next two weeks I will share with you the different type of beliefs that we all have and what we can do to change our beliefs. I will also share with you some of the beliefs that you have today that might be holding you back from the future you desire. I’ve coached men and women from a number of different fields and different parts of the world and have discovered that beliefs are one of the few areas I can impact quickly that makes change easier than you might have thought possible. For many people, it’s harder to get them to explore their beliefs than to do anything else you might ask as a trusted advisor. It takes time and effort to help people understand their beliefs, but it opens them up to positive change. Something we should all strive for in uncertain times.
How has leadership changed over the years? Are you the hero or the outlaw? In previous years, if you went out on a limb and took risks to bring a product or service to market that you saw a need for, you were a hero. By fulfilling your vision, you brought employment to others, increased tax revenues for governments, and supported local communities. Now, after dealing with all the red tape, regulations, and restrictions, you’re an outlaw for trying to build the economy. As leaders today, we are under attack. We seem to be the whipping boy for political hacks who want to take away our rights and our resources in hopes of creating a level society where everyone is just the same. They feel they are better judges of what’s good for you and your family then we are. Now let me get off this soapbox before my head explodes.
I think we have an incredible opportunity in front of us. Do you see it? If you’re like me you’re being inundated with information, over 20,000 messages every day. The doom and gloom will continue until morale improves. Look at it this way, no matter who is elected in November; he’ll be inheriting a bad economy from the previous president. This business environment is only going to change when we do. American ingenuity is not dead. We can always rise to the challenge, as long as we know what the rules are. So with that in mind, I came up with four tips you can use to be a stronger leader during these challenging times.
First, turn off your television and stop spending time glued to the news. I know what you’re thinking, “Where else will I get my news?” My suggestion is to watch less than an hour of news every day. Pick your sources well and then turn off the rest. While you’re at it, consider what you’re reading, as well. Many of the business magazines have more political agendas than the presidential candidates. Take time to consider what you are investing your time in. If you want to gossip, go to the water cooler. If you’re like me and I bet you are, you will get bored very quickly. You must take control of the information that goes into your mind. It’s very easy to be depressed if you are going through the news every day.
Second, go back to your core beliefs. Take time to do things that bring you joy in your life. Be selective of what you invest your money in. I’ve been reading several good books on beliefs. When I talk to other leaders I can find the best leaders have a core set of beliefs that they believe in and are not going to let the current environment change them. To do this, you must know what you believe and, as importantly, why you believe them. Next week, I’ll share some material that will help you understand what your beliefs are and why you believe them. I think you will be surprised by why you have certain beliefs and what you can do to leverage them for your long term success. You may be shocked at how many of your beliefs you adopted from others without challenging their validity and they are taking you down a failed path.
Third, find sources of inspiration every day. I’ve started reading positive, uplifting books before I go to bed and listening to educational CDs in my car when I travel. Look to take advantage of technology to increase your effectiveness. I’ve been investing my time in learning more about the areas I’m good at and learning to delegate the things I’m not. It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you focus on your strengths. You can also find inspiration spending time with the people you love.
Finally, start spending time getting back in shape. For many leaders, we have so many things to do in our busy days. We forget how important our health is. We need to get more done with less. I’ve been investing time in getting back in shape and you can’t imagine how much better I feel. My emotional resilience and my attitude have improved 1000%. Things that would have brought me to my knees two months ago just roll of my back today. I have more energy to spend on the more important things in my life and I get more done in the same amount of time.
Now that we’ve got you back on the path to success, next week we will start giving you the tools you need to take your life to the next level. But to do this we may have to challenge your beliefs, and we will. See you next week.