Leadership Coaching for Executives of Nonprofit Organizations

  1. Leadership Coaching for Executives of Nonprofit Organizations
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Leadership Coaching for Executives of Nonprofit Organizations

Coaching you to lead a nonprofit organization will prepare you to work with a volunteer Board of Directors and community groups with a vested interest in the success or failure of your agency’s goals. Leaders of nonprofits often report significant stress and anxiety concerning the urgent needs of their target audiences, funding, working with volunteers, conflict resolution, team building, publicity, etc.

During coaching sessions, you’ll discover a vast array of proven business tools that have been identified as essential skills for nonprofit executives. Nonprofit Leadership Coaching can prepare you to effectively complete every item in the bulleted list below.

Note: The list is not exhaustive because every coaching agreement is customized. If you are a highly experienced nonprofit agency executive, you may only need coaching about a few of the items described below. If you are an emerging nonprofit leader, you’ll probably sign up for coaching about multiple items on the list.

Essential Tasks That Nonprofit Leadership Coaching, Including Skills Training, Can Help You Achieve

  • Recruit, select and train members of your Board of Directors.
  • Engage Board members in ways that elevate and sustain their motivation to serve on the Board.
  • Prevent and resolve unproductive conflicts among Board members.
  • Conduct fundraising activities, ranging from writing grants to soliciting and receiving private donations for your agency’s work.
  • Gain recognition for your organization’s work. Continuously educate the community about your organization’s needs, mission, goals and action plans.
  • Avoid negative publicity via appropriate community involvement, proactivity and transparency. This includes successfully working with the media.
  • Recruit, select, train and coach employees using proven team-building practices that sustain employee motivation.
  • Recruit, train and coach volunteers that you and your team members will enjoy working with on an ongoing basis.
  • Appropriately reinforce the work of volunteers, including Board members, consistently enhancing their engagement and motivation.
  • Conduct needs assessments and evaluations that will help you secure and retain grants and other funding.
  • Design a plan to reach a sustainable cash flow so you can focus more on service delivery than on fundraising. This will prevent unproductive leadership anxiety.
  • Identify and reinforce emerging leaders so that your nonprofit agency rewards commitment to excellence and you empower potential leaders who are innovative.
  • Develop a proactive leadership succession plan that is evolutionary instead of reactive.
  • Ensure that your personal support system is separate from your day-to-day relationship with the nonprofit agency.
  • Develop and commit to a work-life balance program so you can avoid leadership anxiety and burnout, which are prevalent problems for nonprofit agencies.

Prevent Leadership Anxiety and Stress That Can Lead to Nonprofit Leadership Failure

Practice self-care so you can avoid some of the most common problems nonprofit leaders face: leadership anxiety, compassion fatigue and executive burnout. Although all of these challenges burden women leaders more often than male executives, leadership anxiety and burnout are serious problems for both male and female leaders of non-for-profit organizations that deal with urgent and difficult problems their target audiences face on a daily basis. Common examples include executives of domestic violence and homeless shelters as well as animal abuse organizations.

Make an accountability agreement with your coach that you’ll take time off on a regular basis so you can nourish inner peace while sustaining the beautiful wellspring of hope and compassion that lives in your heart. This is indispensable for the people you serve. As my clients and their Boards of Directors have discovered during the last 20 years that I’ve coached leadership of nonprofits, if you consistently over-give and fail to take care of yourself, chronic exhaustion can overtake your mental and physical abilities, eventually resulting in leadership failure.

Work-life balance and a well-planned self-care program that addresses your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs are as essential to your success as your commitment to make a positive difference for your constituents. Coaching will introduce you to proven techniques that resolve hidden inner conflicts and clear limiting beliefs.

Become as Aware of Your Weaknesses and Vulnerabilities as Your Strengths

It is common for heart-centered people, especially women, to become nonprofit leaders who are passionate about a specific cause but not savvy about the politics of managing a community agency or trained in aspects of business that must be mastered if the nonprofit agency is to succeed. To become an exemplary leader of a nonprofit agency, it’s essential that you identify your business-oriented strengths and weaknesses so you can compensate for your vulnerabilities.

This is sometimes accomplished by gaining additional training or hiring a consultant. Another option which often works well is to assign tasks related to the executive’s undeveloped skills to other employees or to carefully-selected volunteers (sometimes Board members). Nonprofit Leadership Coaching includes many proven tools you need so you can become the exemplary leader you want to be, while you transform leadership anxiety into greater success and confidence.

Many women executives of nonprofits and emerging leaders of nonprofits also need to learn healthy assertiveness skills because women tend to be less assertive than men. To maximize your impact, it’s essential that you not only become comfortable in your own skin (present your authentic Self on the job), you must also be comfortable advocating for your target audience, your program, and the employees and volunteers who serve your constituents. This leads us to the next point.

Discover Your Innate, Authentic Leadership Style So You Can Elevate Your Leadership Success

For a variety of reasons, many nonprofit agency leaders have never received formal leadership training. Most not-for-profit directors have never discovered their innate leadership style. This is the director’s authentic leadership style. Knowing, living and leading in this authentic way significantly decreases your leadership anxiety while enhancing your success. Below are a few examples.

  • Your authenticity helps you connect more easily and deeply with other people. The fact that you are approachable elevates the respect you receive from your Board of Directors, team members, volunteers, target audience, donors and other funders. When people think they understand you, they trust you more. Trust is the core foundation of effective leadership. It’s usually much more important than your educational or training level. People will also forgive your mistakes (which we all make) and give you the benefit of a doubt when they trust you.
  • When you are authentic, you have much more energy. Your stress level decreases because your actions are consistent with your hardwiring. For example, if your natural personality type is to be introverted, knowing how you need to re-energize after a fundraiser allows you to meet your introvert needs before you tackle another extrovert activity. Likewise, if you are naturally extroverted and you must isolate yourself to ponder the agency’s budget alone, you’ll be wise to take extrovert breaks and connect with other people between segments of an introvert-oriented task.
  • Exploring your values, needs, strengths and weaknesses makes it easy for you to prioritize your day, month and year, no matter how many urgent needs challenge you. You’ll know what you can accomplish yourself and what tasks to delegate.
  • Being of integrity to your true self makes it significantly easier to handle media interviews and other requests. In the process, you’ll be an excellent role model for your team members, Board members, volunteers and the people you serve.
  • Of course, as your authenticity elevates your success, your target audience will receive enhanced benefits.

Transform Nonprofit Agency Funding Nightmares into Sustained Funding and a Thriving Organization

Many nonprofit organizations begin with a shoestring budget. Comprehensive planning is placed on a back burner because the urgent needs of the people they serve continuously command their attention.  Even after gaining funding from donors or federal, state or foundation grants, too many not-for-profit agencies lack a prosperity consciousness. They never achieve the sense of security about funding and community support that is essential if the nonprofit is to grow to a new level of effective service delivery.

Many not-for-profit agencies also develop with a haphazard approach similar to a family that adds a tiny room large enough for a baby crib onto their house each time a new child is born instead of planning an ideal home for children whom we know will grow too large for their cribs. If your organizational structure and resources aren’t ready for each program expansion before your children (your programs) outgrow their cribs, your agency will never be able to keep up with the emerging needs of your target population, employees and volunteers.

Some agencies have expanded based on the politics of what federal, state or foundation grants were available to fund during a given political administration, instead of conducting a long-term needs assessment related to a mission and vision. You don’t want to be held captive to political whims. You want to concentrate on your target audience’s needs.

Your Nonprofit Leadership Coach can definitely help you and your Board of Directors develop a more sustainable funding base as you explore the following.

  • Clarify your true mission and the organizational culture you want to create and sustain.
  • Envision your long-term plan after objectively exploring your nonprofit’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. When I consult with a nonprofit, I frequently do a SWOT analysis and a variety of metrics.
  • Identify the ideal organizational structure required to meet your goals so you can plan accordingly.
  • Explore proven coaching skills to use with your employees and volunteers.
  • Conduct personnel recruitment and training based on a comprehensive needs assessment.
  • Proactively secure the resources you need.
  • Gain funding and other resources that will be sustainable instead of always having to depend on grants and conducting fundraisers.

Both You and Your Nonprofit Need a Highly Individualized Coaching Approach

This article is not designed to provide a complete list of how Nonprofit Leadership Coaching will empower you to lead a nonprofit organization because every nonprofit organization is unique. For example, the goals, activities and essential skills of the organization’s executive are quite different if the nonprofit agency is focused on assistance to domestic violence victims than a not-for-profit organization focused on encouraging girls to enter math and science careers, a political awareness organization or a foundation to combat climate change.

Your Nonprofit Leadership Coach will help you become crystal clear about your personal leadership skills, weaknesses, vision and mission as the two of you also explore your nonprofit organization’s strengths, needs, constraints, and optimal possibilities. After 20 years of coaching nonprofit leaders, I guarantee you that Nonprofit Leadership Coaching can help you delete unnecessary leadership stress and anxiety and elevate you and your agency’s success.

Sometimes, nonprofit agencies provide Nonprofit Leadership Coaching to their executives, other leaders and Board members because the research concerning the significant return-on-investment (ROI) of Nonprofit Leadership Coaching is abundantly clear. (The ROI is an average of over 500%.)

Sign Up for Your Complimentary Coaching Session Now

I was previously founder and Executive Director of a national nonprofit organization that is still thriving because I followed the proven practices I can help you master.  I also have significant experience working in a private foundation, soliciting private donations and successfully writing and receiving millions of dollars of federal grants for the agencies I directed. Today, in addition to coaching corporate leaders, I continue to coach personnel at all levels of nonprofit leadership, from executives to Board members to employees.

Sign up now for your 20-minute complimentary consultation so I can help you, too. Also, sign up for our newsletter to ensure you receive each new article I write for you. I promise every article will delight you with proven solutions to all of your leadership challenges.

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. as interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN and NPR. Certified Master Leadership and Executive Coach Doris Helge is author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job” and “Transforming Pain Into Power.” Doris has helped hundreds of leaders like you meet every challenge you’re facing. To make sure you receive each weekly tip, click here to join our mailing list.


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About the Author

Doris Helge

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. at www.WomensLeadershipTips.com Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” Click here now to sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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