The growing popularity of “design thinking” shows just how much leaders at all levels can learn from designers.
A “design mindset” can give a leader a clear thinking or problem-solving process that works well with everyone from family members to a community, or whole organisation.
Leaders with a design mindset “paint” the way forward with colourful, wide brushes to ensure a diverse range of perspectives.
The trick is knowing which aspect of our thinking processes to listen to at which time. Is it time to converge on an idea or action? Or is it time to diverge to create more options?
Inequality, injustice, environmental destruction . . . things need to change in the world – that much is clear to anyone working in the NFP sector.
And to create the future we want – and need – it’s going to take leaders who can step up and “shape the future we want.”
One of the most admirable and arguably underrated qualities of leadership is the capacity for reflection. Confucius called it the most noble way to learn wisdom.
But when we talk about what makes someone a successful leader, we typically describe attributes like the ability to innovate, make strategic decisions or manage uncertainty. We rarely mention reflection among the core traits of a great leader.
But the ability to reflect is actually among the most important traits that will determine a leader’s success.
“High standards are contagious. Bring a new person onto a high standards team, and they’ll quickly adapt. The opposite is also true. If low standards prevail, those too will quickly spread. And though exposure works well to teach high standards, I believe you can accelerate that rate of learning by articulating a few core principles of high standards.”
That’s Jeff Bezos – founder and CEO of Amazon, and also the wealthiest person in the world.
While you might wonder about how much a billionaire has to teach leaders in Australia’s NFP sector, the lessons from Bezos’ annual letter to his shareholders are hugely relevant for leaders in any organisation, of any size.
Making a tough decision about your team or your organisation’s workforce can be, well…tough.
NFP leaders and managers are called upon to make tough decisions as a matter of course. But what do you do when the decision is really important, and it’s really not clear what course of action you should take?
Harvard Business School professor Joseph L. Badaracco is an expert in making what he calls “grey area” problems – ones that can sometimes be difficult to clearly assess. He suggests five practical questions you should ask yourself that can help you and your team illuminate the “greyest of grey areas”.
It’s no secret that the not-for-profit sector has faced unprecedented instability in recent years, with uncertainty fast becoming the ‘new normal’.
The drastic drop in donations caused by the GFC, constant fluctuations in government funding and sweeping sector reforms like the NDIS are just three examples of massive change – and that doesn’t even touch on the increasingly volatile political climate both in Australia and overseas.
To start developing skills to help lead teams during these uncertain times, and to prepare for change in the future, here are three important lessons for leaders at all levels of your NFP.
Do you know what your staff are thinking?
As part of our annual survey of the EthicalJobs.com.au community, last year we asked jobseekers who are currently working in the NFP sector to tell us what advice they’d give their current employer to “help improve the workplace, processes and practices in your organisation?”
Almost 1,000 people responded to the question – anonymously of course – and the results provide a fascinating insight into the state of NFP organisations through the eyes of their staff.
There’s an emerging type of worker who usually knows more about their job than anyone else in the organisation and is not likely to suffer fools gladly. This type of worker can be difficult to manage as they don’t consider themselves to be subordinates in the traditional sense.
Numbers of these “knowledge workers” are rising steadily in the NFP sector and beyond. And a key challenge for managers today is how to get these sorts of staff members to want to do what you want them to.
It’s the age-old question: are leaders born or made?
While there’s no hard and fast verdict, the general consensus is that it’s a combination of both – and that’s great news for the up-and-coming leaders in your organisation who might need further development.
What motivates the people in your NFP to come to work each day? And others to apply for the jobs you advertise?
Many in the NFP sector, decrying the inability of the sector to match the wages that corporates and government often pay, reckon it’s mostly about how much your organisation can pay them.