Category Archives: Adrianne Geiger DuMond

We Are What We Read

Adrianne DuMond

When I read the recent research on this subject – the content we read shapes our leadership – it takes me to the Myers Briggs (MBTI) classifications. The MBTI premise is that while most of us (in some small portion) may possess many  of the types, there is one type that we prefer. And we especially use this type in times of stress or crisis. What if the preferred type isn’t all that’s needed as a leader/manager?

In leadership development, the theory goes that, for example, if you are a visionary you need to choose a nuts and bolt type of staff person, to balance the approach to managing. But what if the staff is small, or you don’t have that type on board. Then the question becomes, where do I go for that perspective to the job?

The research is telling us that just as our type forms behavior, what we choose to read can influence our actions and behavior as leaders/managers. For example, if staff sees you as always basing decisions on logic and facts, lacking patience, with a focus on detail, you might choose a book about managing people or leadership development, even though that subject might not interest you very much. Again, these skills are important to success, but might serve better if balanced by some stronger people skills.

For the visionary noted above, the staff may be frustrated by the lack of attention to details, the constant pursuit of new challenges. While all of these traits are critical to a leader’s/manager’s success with strategic planning, the choices he/she makes to balance these skills are critical. What this person chooses to read and study must help to focus on setting goals, holding staff accountable, and consistently appraising and rewarding good performance.

The message here is, if we know the minus side to our leadership, and reading is one way we learn, choose the books, articles, that shed light on what we need to do better as a leader/manager. After all, we are what we read, if we choose the right material to strengthen our skills.

By the way, if you like this subject, read about the visionary Steve Jobs selecting the nuts and bolts Tim Cook to succeed him. The book is ‘Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs’ by Yukari Iwatani Kane.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Checking Our Delegation Skills

Adrianne DuMond

 

 

How many of us have delegated a task and not had it turn out like we visualized or wanted? Then it’s hard to get it like we expected it to turn out. Here are some reminders that might help refresh the actions.

 

1) Getting started the right way: Being clear about expectations and responsibilities.

WHAT: The most important step is being specific about what the end result and success will look like. Take time to be explicit and test to see if there is agreement with the person to whom you delegate.

WHO and WHY: In these work-pressured times, with many part-time employees, it’s beneficial to let people know why you have selected them for the job. For example, “Jane (who) I have chosen you to lead the project because (why) you’ve shown great leadership of the team”.

WHEN: It’s important to have interim check points, to set tentative dates for the updates, and to agree upon an end time. This hopefully avoids any miscommunication and disappointments.

2) Create learning opportunities: Delegation is an excellent way to coach promising talent and to fulfill the need for succession planning at the same time. Choose carefully, make delegation reward for good performance, and stay involved to ensure success – but let us not micromanage.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Networking: A New Way of Solving Social Problems

Adrianne DuMond

“Networks generally create value for individual members as well as for the network as a whole. They are reciprocal and tend to involve multiple value positions for participants”. (Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ), Winter, 2013) What is the message in this for nonprofits? Nonprofits struggle daily with all human conditions – homelessness, poverty, human trafficking, immigration, hunger, education, health care. The above publication is recommending that networks (e.g.,agencies, Boards of Directors, hospitals, government ) must combine operations and influence to better solve these ongoing problems.

To utilize these concepts that create larger impacts and stronger influence, they lay out a set of guidelines for the networks.

  1. Adaptability rather than control. Most of us like to have control over projects and services. It is much easier to be accountable when we have control. But NPQ argues that leading with adaptability over time is a better approach. Given the extreme complexity of many problems, it is impossible for any one leader or entity to know all the ways to solve a problem.
  2. Live with emergence over predictability. Like all living systems, when leaders come together, think together, work together, it is not possible to predict what they will come up with. It is often new possibilities. The speed of instant communications via internet capability compounds this unpredictable condition.
  3. Resilience and redundancy. The most successful athletic teams have backups for key positions. Given the fluidity and complexity of operating through various networks, it is important to learn to be comfortable with “redundancy of function and the richness of interconnections.” If one network leaves, there are others to take its place.
  4. Contributions before credentials. I know a senior partner in a major consulting firm that never finished college. How did she get there? She worked hard, is a visionary and a great problem solver.
  5. Diversity and divergence. The essence of being comfortable with a variety of networks, trying to solve the same problem, is the acceptance of new thinking, various fields of experience, and expanding options.

As a volunteer, I have listened to many presentations on the Affordable Care Act. Whether we agree with it or not, just as it is changing the face of health care, it is symptomatic of the complexities and required changes for solving other social problems. This article has tried to suggest a new approach.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

The Relationship between the Executive Director and the Board (especially the Board Chair)

    Adrianne DuMond

    An important asset to a well functioning nonprofit is a Board of Directors that is used well. Often this means that the Board chair is a competent leader and works well with the Executive Director/CEO. It is their responsibility to see that Board members are trained to see their utility in ways they can support the agency.

There are some practices to consider in making this happen.

  1. Define and clarify the specific roles. The relationship between the Executive Director (ED)/CEO and the Board is often not defined clearly. I have seen very effective ED’s lose the respect of the Board because the lines of authority or decision-making were not clear. Once animosity arose, it was hard to put the genie back in the box. If only each entity had taken time to be specific about the roles and accountabilities, hard feelings could have been avoided. When hiring the ED/CEO, or as problems arise, it is necessary to take the time for a clear job description and explanation of responsibilities.
  2. The role of the Board Chair. He/she plays a pivotal role in seeing that harmony and effectiveness prevail. This means communicating early and often. It’s best for the ED/CEO and Board Chair to meet once a month (preferably face-to-face) so there are no surprises for either party. The ED/CEO needs to be open and candid about challenges/issues as well as successes. The Board Chair is the facilitator to the Board, the mediator on tough choices, and honest with her/his dealings.
  3. Presenting a united front. There are few decisions a Board makes that do not have varying positions. In fact, if they are a good Board, various opinions are encouraged and respected. But once a decision is made, it is wise to present a united front. It is damaging to the organization when one or more Board members are vocal about dissent to the public.
  4. Preparing for transition Many of the above issues could be better handled if agencies tried hard to determine back ups for key roles – especially the ED/CEO position and the Board Chair. Planning for succession should be part of the strategic plan for the year. Setting aside budget dollars for this purpose ensures that the subject is honored and planned for. Training and coaching are important investments in talented people so that they are groomed for future leadership.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Adapting to Change (Part 2)

Adrianne DuMond

Last time I wrote about the changing nature of nonprofits, given the economy and the politics in Washington. The article focused on strategies to help leaders guide the acceptance of change effectively for their staffs and Boards of Directors. The strategies for taking them from the old to the new are also important.

The transition stage is fraught with confusion and dismay. But take steps to reassure and keep informed. Some strategies are:

  • Accept that uncertainty is an integral part of going from the old to the new. Don’t expect to have all the answers or to make perfect decisions.
  • Set short term goals that advance you towards the new beginning.

In the new beginning utilize the clarity that emerged in the transition stage. Other strategies to consider are:

  • Give everyone a part in the new beginning; Find a place for all relevant parties (staff and Board) to participate.
  • Create a process to track new problems and ways to address them.
  • Re-emphasize the reasons for the change and speak positively about the reasons.
  • Deal with your own personal uncertainty and resistance to the change.
  • Find ways to mark any success. 

As in the first article, these strategies are noted and expanded upon in “Adapting to Organizational Change”, a recent book published by the Center for Creative Leadership (www.ccl.org).

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Adapting to Change (Part One)

Adrianne DuMond

It seems that everywhere you read, there are articles about the changes in the non-profit world. They include the effects of sequestration, the concept of sustainability, the politics of Washington, etc. The Center for Creative Leadership (www.ccl.org) has just published a new book titled Adapting to Organizational Change, and this blog will touch on some of the suggestions for adapting.

The premise of the book is CCL’s research with executives in North America and Europe which reveals that all successful executives deal with change constructively. The book outlines some of the strategies for adapting well. Executive Directors and Program Managers may consider using some of these strategies to reassure and keep informed their staffs and the Board of Directors. The strategies include:

• Let go of the past, grieve about it, but accept it.

• Learn all you can about the nature of the change without first judging it.

• Take stock of who is losing what.

• Define the precise details of what is over and what is not.

• Admit to yourself and to others that the change has occurred.

• Actively seek information from relevant sources about the change.

• Let others know the facts and feelings you have about the change.

• Mark the ending in a meaningful way.

• Take note of what has been lost and what has been gained.

The transition from the old to the new is often painful and confusing, but these strategies may lessen the strain and stress. Next time I will address the suggestions from the book on how to accept the new.

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

The Link between Networking and Fundraising

Adrianne DuMond

Do you remember the time when you designated your donation to United Way through your paycheck, and maybe made a donation to your church and that was the philanthropy for the year? Now you are enticed to contribute, via television and the internet, to every crisis that occurs. What does this do for fundraising efforts by nonprofits? Is this serious competition for the individual dollar?

I believe that fundraisers must work harder to get their story out and that spending more effort and time on networking may achieve better results. I recently read an informative article on networking in the Entrepreneur newsletter (online) that gave the most important habits of super networkers. If nonprofits are to keep the donor dollars they are accustomed to (which have not recovered from the recession yet) then every Board member and certainly the Chief Executive could practice some of these habits.

Ultimately it is about building close relationships with your donors and potential donors – at every opportunity. Here are the habits.

Ask insightful questions, learn their story. Building close relationships means knowing what’s new in the other person’s life, even when you have known them for awhile.

Add value. This means the moment you find a way to help someone, take action – maybe a contact, a resource, a referral.

Share a memorable fact. You have a compelling story to share and this is the opportunity to tell someone about a recent success or a need.

Keep notes. When leaving an event or meeting, take time to make notes about the important information you learned from the contacts you made – their history, interests. Hopefully you have their business card.

Make small promises and keep them. If you have offered anything as you spoke with others, be sure to keep your promise, and follow up afterwards.

Reward your ‘power’ contacts. Keep a list of the 5 to 10 important people (donors?) in your network and stay in touch – maybe one contact each week – with a phone call, a lunch invitation, a book to send.

For this article, I am indebted to the author, Lewis Howes, who writes, trains, and lectures on Linkedinfluence. Mr. Howes is a member of the the USA National Team in handball.

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Research on the MYTHS about Board governance

Adrianne DuMond

I have followed the work of Dr. David O. Renz, noted researcher and author on nonprofit governance and leadership. Recently he spoke on common myths that sometimes influence a Board of Directors’ actions. They are: 1) There are Best Practices for Board governance; 2) Board Chairs have demonstrable influence on performance, and 3) Attention to diversity is critical. Here are his thoughts on these three particular myths.

There are Best Practices for Board governance. Dr. Renz says that research shows that there are no standard best practices. He states that the practices need to be determined by the particular community it serves, and the size and maturity of the nonprofit. Of course there are legal and fiduciary practices that must be adhered to, but otherwise the procedures and policies must be determined by the standards and practices of the community.

Board Chairs have demonstrable influence on performance,

Nonprofit research shows that Board Chairs do have an impact, but it depends upon their style of leadership. If Chairs assume the role of facilitator in the interactions and leadership of the Board, they are much more effective. Board chairs should not be ‘take charge’ types (except in crisis). Their job is to mediate, clarify, and translate effectively the decisions of the Board.

Attention to diversity is critical.

Board diversity is important to an agency’s credibility and effectiveness. Many nonprofits are directing attention to the fact that their Boards are white, and tend to be older. The effort to rectify this situation takes the form of selecting a minority that represents the community being served. While this is a good practice, research is showing that there is failure to integrate them socially as well as functionally. Better results are achieved by including the selected person(s) in social settings, and making sure that Board members and staff are familiar with the neighborhoods, their culture and customs as well.

David O. Renz, Ph.D., is Department Chair of Public Affairs at the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, University of Missouri/ Kansas City. He presented these thoughts on a Webinar sponsored by the NonProfit Quarterly on May 17, 2013.

 

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, ECofOC.org

Revisiting the HABITS of Board Governance

Adrianne DuMond

In researching the changing nature of governance by Boards of Directors, some interesting questions arise. The questions have to do with habits that a Board may have. Let’s look at three of them: 1) Committee structure, 2) Meeting time, and 3) Best use of younger Board members.

Committee structure: Often we see that Boards have committee structure around function – finance, personnel, programs, etc. Would it be more effective and/or useful to have a task force structure where committees served particular issues or challenges, and might be time limited, available to move on to another issue?

There is also the question about the Executive Committee. Does it function as a Board within a Board, thereby excluding important input from other sources?

Meeting time: Not only the schedule, but also the length of the Board meeting can help or hinder an effective meeting. To keep a Board involved and active we know meetings should be high impact and a productive use of time. Good use of technology helps this process – conference calls, emailing (especially agendas), and Go-to-meeting. So how effective is your use of meeting time and should you revisit the subject, just to check?

Best use of younger Board members: Research is showing that younger people who commit to a Board may be more interested in accomplishing the mission than in being in line for more Board leadership. They are not interested in working their way up, so to speak. I recently found this to be true when I notified a volunteer that he had worked enough hours to move from ‘provisional’ to ‘active’ and he informed me he didn’t want to be promoted, he liked it just the way it was. We struggle for the time and commitment of younger members, so it is worth taking time to understand what is important to them.

Habits may be hard to change. But it may be useful to ask if any of these habits get in the way of good governance. In today’s fast-paced environment it is important to use each Board member’s time and interest as efficiently as possible.

Author: Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

The Loss of Teamwork Led to Tragedy

Adrianne DuMond

The poignant revelations about what went on in the cockpit before the Asiana Flight #214 hit the sea wall at San Francisco International Airport support the knowledge we know about teamwork. The junior pilot sitting in the jump seat voiced the opinion they were too slow for the landing. His observations went unneeded. Additional interviews with the four pilots in the cockpit led the National Transportation Safety Board ( NTSB ) to question the communication habits in the cockpit — were the pilots working as a team? The question of hierarchy and authority practices was raised. An American pilot interviewed later stressed how important it is and how much they are trained to always work as a team in the cockpit. In their training these concepts are known as Cockpit Resource Management.

When I read this my mind immediately jumped to recent quotes by Dr. Daniel Goldman, the pioneer of Emotional Intelligence. He recently said, ” There are sets of leadership competencies that set the best performers apart from the average, that build on basics – e.g., self-regulation is the basis for the discipline to achieve goals “( land a plane), “to be adaptable” ( listen to input from others),” and remain calm and clear under pressure”.

Emotional Intelligence embraces both self-regulation and self-mastery -important skills for team leadership. One must be aware of self – behaviors, motivations, emotional triggers, questionable habits, constructive practices – in order to lead or be part of a successful team. Giving up rank or self importance might have allowed Flight #214 to land safely. Of course the final investigation may reveal other shortcomings. But this accident revealed so publicly and graphically how important are solid team skills that I was struck by the example to Daniel Goldman’s work.

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org