In a nonprofit organization, the mission, not the profit is the driving force behind the organization. Many of the smaller nonprofit organizations usually also have a founder’s leadership and vision to keep in mind, fiscal constraints and fewer opportunities for career advancement simply due to their size. To many these conditions may be perceived as a negative, but this is what makes nonprofits excellent training grounds for millennials, women and/or sector switchers who want to add some skills to their career toolbox, or advance to a leadership role.
There are always LOTS of tasks and roles that need to be filled and completed. However, there is often not enough human capacity on staff or someone with the right skills to get the job done. This is a great opportunity for a staff person to stretch their skills, volunteers to assist, a consultant to be hired and/or for someone to get some valuable hands on training in that area to ensure that the organization is able to get the work done. I truly attribute my many talents to working in the nonprofit sector and having to learn on the job or during a time where we did not have enough hands on deck to do things I never thought I’d ever have the chance to do (or want to do for that matter) and glad I had the opportunity. Continue Reading »
Recently, I began working with The Kellogg Foundation (full disclaimer – they are a client). Much of our work with the foundation focuses on overturning misperceptions about race and ultimately changing the misbehavior guided by those misperceptions.
Although debate continues, science has shown race is solely a cultural construct. Human genome studies have so far failed to turn up evidence that there’s such a thing as, for example, a Caucasian. Genetically, a black Kenyan man and a black Ugandan man are more different than a black Kenyan and a white Norwegian. Race has no basis in genetics. Yet, despite these findings, we cannot simply disentangle ourselves from the well-rooted paradigm of race we’ve all grown up with. If only it were that easy…
Race is a social construct, developed over centuries and passed from one generation to the next. Despite the hard science now available (though, it should have never been needed in the first place), racism continues to deeply influence individuals’ behavior and actions, and not always positively.
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Has the recession had a positive impact on young women, or is the surface success not getting to the source of a lingering problem?
We are about midway through Women’s History Month 2011, and I find it difficult to honor this important month this year without a quick wax on Wonder Woman and what both her creator(s) and her narrative can tell us about growing a new crop of effective leaders.
For those who aren’t familiar with her story, Wonder Woman was the brainchild of William Moulton Marston and modeled in equal parts after his fiery feminist psychologist wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and their partner, Olivia Byrne. (Yes, that’s right, William and Elizabeth had a consensual polyamorous relationship for most of their life). The two Marstons, (Elizabeth, by the way, was denied admittance to Harvard grad because she was a woman but was able to obtain her PhD at Boston University), are responsible for creating the systolic blood pressure test, the precursor to the polygraph test. They envisioned a day where people would use it for personal use to help them be more honest and open in their communication and relationships with themselves and others. Not too surprisingly, given this backstory, the Marstons and Byrne saw Wonder Woman as a superhero who slayed evil with love and, when necessary, used her lasso of truth on the deceitful. Continue Reading »
This past week I was on a conference call with individuals from other advertising and public relations firms. Just as the call leader started the meeting, the line went silent. Country music immediately began reverberating through our office. A bit mystified, my boss and I looked at each other and immediately broke into laughter as the twang of a guitar echoed off the walls. Evidently one caller placed us all on hold, and to our surprise, country music was their chosen stand-in. No one on that call needed to say a word, and yet we all knew what each other was thinking. My boss and I weren’t laughing at one another, but with one another, and that laughter, that shared experience drew us even closer together.
This type of laughter is called knowing laughter, an instrument Brené Brown, Ph.D., a known expert on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame, defines as ‘laughter that results from recognizing the universality of our shared experiences, both positive and negative.’
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As part of my consulting work as a career consultant and nonprofit business developer, I participate in board development, executive searches and leadership recruiting. While every organization is different, there are several traits that are always on the “must-have” list for leadership roles within any organization or company.
Whether you’re a seasoned nonprofit leader, corporate manager or a member of the rising next generation, the list of traits below may help you assess your own leadership style. It will give you a glimpse of your strengths, as well as identify areas that are challenging and could be an area for professional development. Continue Reading »
Super quiet. Shy. Invisible. That was me in high school. I think my peers saw me as relatively smart, but being introverted and rather shy, they saw me (or, didn’t see me), as simply that – the quiet girl. And in turn, that’s how I saw myself for a long time, even after I had outgrown the “box.” This internal struggle of how I defined myself often affected my behavior, in both positive and negative ways.
Although we are certainly different individuals in our 20′s, 30′s and 40′s compared to how we were in high school, the labels, definitions and reputation others give us more often than not have some effect. They can force us to make a choice, either disagreeing with their words, or are pleased with what we hear and their comment may reinforce a certain behavior all the more.
Working in a team setting, it’s vital individuals have a positive self-image and are surrounded by others who empower them to be their best selves. Leadership guru Dale Carnegie advocates this principle of giving individuals a fine reputation to live up to, not only reinforcing their good qualities, but also motivating them to be successful.
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Several months ago, my aunt and I were about to jump into a fairly controversial discussion, when she paused. She looked at me and made a request, “Teri, I’m going to tell you what I think, but please don’t respond immediately. You’ll likely change my mind, and I just don’t wish to handle that right now.” In response, I immediately closed my mouth and simply listened, sympathizing with the struggle she must have been feeling in that moment, as it is one I feel quite often. For my aunt and I (as well as hundreds of others I know), our world is very much gray. At times, this is a welcome trait; however, it can also be a painful and frustrating struggle, needing to have an opinion or make a decision when the pros and cons from all sides are clearly visible.
We all see the world with varying shades and mixtures of black and white, some sitting closer to one extreme or the next. By knowing and understanding the lens through which those around us view the world, we’re better able to understand how they think, and can aid them (be it our boss, our colleague, or ourselves) in making needed decisions.
A recent Wall Street Journal article by Shirley S. Wang entitled Why So Many People Can’t Make Decisions, focuses on this exact plight, of how individuals think differently, and why it may be difficult for some individuals to make decisions. As leaders, we are called upon daily to make decisions, sometimes under high-pressure situations. Continue Reading »
Sometimes I have the tendency to take on too much. While I am certain I am not alone in my plight, it is a bad habit I’ve been trying to break.
The classic Harvard Business Review case study, “Where’s the Monkey” by William Oncken, Jr., and Donald L. Wass highlights this exact dilemma we face daily in our professional lives, and suggests a mindset that will not only mold us into better leaders and managers, but better employees as well.
The title of the case, “Where’s the Monkey?” asks who is currently responsible for moving a specific project or task forward. The ‘monkey,’ metaphorically is the task at-hand, which jumps from one individual to the next as responsibilities change ownership.
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Ever since I was young, my dad always told us he was raising adults and not children. He viewed my siblings and I as the people we were destined to be, and raised us to become the independent, driven, passionate adults we are today. He invested in us, and as a result, we’re all now on our own and thriving.
For my dad, parenthood has not been the only stage where he has played a leadership (or, co-leadership, in this case) role. He has held a variety of leadership positions at numerous companies, and in these roles, has reiterated that his goal in each has been to work his way out of a job. This goal is not meant to be taken literally, but is intended to describe his responsibility as a leader to continually teach others what he knows. By developing his employees’ skill set and broadening their knowledge base, he is empowering them so they may be continually challenged and motivated in their work.
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