Leadership Styles

Nonprofit Leadership as FishThink about the last time you were in charge of something at work – setting an agenda for a staff meeting, determining which, if any, new projects should move forward this quarter, or considering how to increase the number of volunteers for a committee.  There are ranges of different ways you can go about making your decisions.

The key to successful leadership is knowing the different ways you can handle a particular situation to move forward in a conscious way.  Here are some options to consider:

  • Previously established norms often rule. Staff meetings always start with 5 minutes for the E.D., 10 minutes for updates on previous agendas, etc…  I’m sure you have heard the adage, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.”
  • Group consensus Bringing a group together and hashing out decisions can help ensure everyone will support the final results – e.g. the budget director, the Executive Director and projects manager sit in a room and decide what can and should get the go ahead.
  • The power of one. Some times it has to be one person making the decisions.  Hopefully the person is intelligent and thoughtful when writing the list of priorities for the upcoming year.
  • Making the decision and then looking for others to buy in. An individual who creates that same list of priorities but then shows it to invested parties can encourage agreement and support in the decision.  If the groups do not think this is the right way to go, they have an opportunity to articulate their arguments – before the decision is final.  However, if you are asking for opinions, be prepared to receive them.  You do not have to make every change that is recommended, but be open minded.
  • Delegation. Sometimes delegation is a necessity and sometimes it is a choice.  Are you unable to continue to head the event committee or do you not want to?  Either way, are you willing to live with the results of someone else’s decisions?
  • Second Guessing. This is the worst choice for everyone involved.  If you delegate, let the decision be made by others and if you use a group, let the group make the final decision.  Rethinking the decision wastes everyone’s time so if you are not willing to give up the end result, make sure you are the determinant of the final decision.

Most of us enact different roles each day.   Just remember to act reliably, consistently and consciously.  Nothing is harder than working for someone who changes their mind on a regular basis.  And few things have a stronger correlation to employee turnover.