Becoming a successful nonprofit leader takes more than just a title.
Are you a manager? Are you in charge of a delegating tasks or a subset of an organization? To be a good manager, leadership skills are a must. You must hone specific characteristics, qualities and traits in order to inspire and empower others, especially people on your team and in your community. According to the article, What a Leader Looks Like, one’s image does not make a leader. “Leadership is not an image, it’s a quality.” Specific qualities are paramount for any nonprofit leader.
For example, a person can be a manager, but not necessarily a leader. However, to be an effective manager, your leadership skills need to shine. The same article by Simo discusses how an inner strength and caring about one’s team and their efforts encourages positivity and motivation for their employees.
Out of the many specific characteristics that a good nonprofit leader must showcase in order to manage their team responsibly and productively, one of the most important is taking time out to listen. Considering other perspectives from employees allows a good manager to foresee issues that might have been overlooked and consider alternative solutions. A great deal can be gained when taking a moment to listen. A leader’s strength can come from guiding consensus among employees. Although consensus does not guarantee success, having the ability to connect and drive the decision-making concerning consensus allows for the overall desired outcome to occur.
Leaders must be problem-solvers and determine ways to balance emotions and tasks to arrive at a sensible decision. According to Jo Miller in her article 5 Ways to Be a Leader, Not a Manager, “True leaders don’t just praise publicly, and criticize privately. They are also humble enough to apologize publicly and gloat privately.” The hardest lesson for a good nonprofit leader to learn is how to have difficult conversations with employees in a way that does not tear down the individual, but rather builds their confidence and motivates them to do better. A manager that dictates will not get far, as his or her teammates will not respect him/her and give their all on the job. Managers that inspire and act like role models will have a lasting effect on the company culture.
The strongest type of manager is an effective leader who inspires motivation and enthusiasm and offers compassion to all employees. This type of manager understands cause and effect and looks at the bigger picture to realize that every employee is affected by his actions and those within the company. By rolling up his sleeves and putting in the effort to achieve goals, employees are excited to come to work and perform in a superior manner.
Other top priorities for a strong manager:
- Identifies major goals during weekly meetings and sends out minutes for all to keep.
- Sets deadlines and keeps lists of what needs to be accomplished to achieve various goals.
- Supports each employee in their own decision-making and encourages free-thinking.
- Uses a flexible empowerment method to allow employees to make their own decisions and handle situations accordingly without needed approval.
- Is the epitome of what makes a manager a strong and successful leader.
- Makes it a priority to show admiration, approval, appreciation, and attention to employees through various techniques.
- Makes sure to let his employees know through feedback how important their work is to him and the organization.
Leadership is something that can evolve in any situation. As mentioned earlier, a person does not have to be a manager to be a leader; a leader is someone who people look up to and admire because of their overwhelming beliefs and values. The video Tribal Leadership through Ted Talks by David Logan describes different tribes:
There are different cultures everywhere, but a leader can come from any situation and develop from any experience. Most of the world is stuck in a competitive culture of the stage three tribe. They stay in this stage because it is safe. A leader is willing to expand the tribe by connecting people together on a higher level.
A successful nonprofit leader will always push individuals to be better and therefore have the capacity to reach all people at every level.