Is there a secret to successful non-profit leadership? If you’re leading at a non-profit then your world is filled with a never-ending stream of new challenges. Whether you’re a new leader just stepping in, a seasoned pro, or somewhere in between, there is one thing that will have the biggest impact on your ability to lead successfully. 

Many new leaders frequently think they have “arrived” so they just jump in feet first, using their passion and energy to guide them. The “pros” think it’s all “old hat” so they settle in, counting on their previous skills and past practices to solve any challenges they face.

But in reality, the biggest mistake both of these leaders often make is in thinking they are fully equipped and ready for whatever comes their way, no matter their experience level.

So what is the 1 thing that will have the biggest impact on your ability to lead well, both now and in the future? Adopting a Mindset of Continual Growth.

Who you are now, won’t get you where you’re trying to go.

No matter how prepared you might feel in your non-profit leadership role, things always look very different once inside the corner office…that lonely, corner office.

    • Friends, colleagues, and others who may have help train you are now your subordinates.
    • Conversation and chatter diminishes when you walk into the room.
    • You have to learn to rely on information provided by others rather than upon your own first-hand knowledge.
    • You will have to decide what information you can share with others and what must be held in confidence.
    • Some controversial topics at your agency may not have been in your area of responsibilities, but now you own them.
    • You will be called upon to delicately and deliberately exercise influential power, even though you hold top authority and can simply issue directives.
    • You now are the face of the organization and everyone will be constantly watching you and taking their cues from how you act and what you do.

And the list goes on…

Are you prepared to handle new challenges in a way that strengthens your non-profit leadership position or will you handle them poorly and damage your leadership? What can you do as a new or experienced leader so you are prepared for these new challenges?

What does it mean to develop a Mindset of Continual Growth?

Hopefully, your agency has a professional development program and budget, but regardless, your leadership will suffer if you do not develop skills in new areas and take your current ones to a new level of competence.

So how can you go about doing this while still fulfilling your role? Reading a lot of best sellers is always a good idea, if you’re a reader like me, but it’s only the beginning. There are many things you can do, to develop this mindset, but here are 3 that will have a significant impact on your non-profit leadership in the immediate future.

Attend Conferences/Workshops

    • Try to attend at least one good conference or workshop each year. It might be on leadership and organizational health in general, or it might be on topics that are very specific to your agency’s mission.
    • They are great places to network, share best practices, and brainstorm new ideas.
    • Conferences are great places to step back from your day-to-day duties and reflect on the direction and goings on at  your agency.

Find/Join a Specific Mastermind Group

    • These groups are safe, confidential, peer level meetings where people with similar roles gather regularly to grow by learning, sharing ideas, problems, and best practices.
    • Mastermind groups may vary but they typically serve as an informal board of advisors where leaders can speak freely in a confidential, nonjudgmental atmosphere.
    • These groups can also serve as accountability boards as members discuss their challenges and possible solutions.

Identify a Coach or Mentor to Work With You

    • I believe having someone work with you, to push you further, will help you develop professionally. 
    • While different in approach, both of these relationships offer an opportunity to learn, one-on-one.
    • A coach can bring out the very best in a person, much like a batting coach helps out a struggling player.
    • A mentor is someone further down the path you’re on, who willingly leans in to your life and commits to helping you grow professionally.
    • Both of these relationships provide significant personal and professional growth opportunities for someone committed to self-improvement.

Each of these 3 paths can have a dramatic impact on your ability to lead successfully in your non-profit, and positively influence and engage those around you. Remember that to reach a new destination, you will need new skills, new experience, and new insight.

What are you doing to develop your Continual Growth Mindset? Are there other things you would add? I’d love to hear about your journey.

Ready to start improving your leadership right away? Download the 5 Powerful Questions for Non-Profit Leaders and discover what you need to know to help lead your agency in the right direction.

5 Questions for Leaders