Seven Ways New NonProfit Leaders Succeed the First Year on the Job

Emerald Pools Trail, Zion National Park
Emerald Pools Trail, Zion National Park

Leadership skill is built upon skilled listening, including listening to yourself for health and wellness.  Busy leaders know intellectually that taking care of yourself is how you are best able to take care of others.  The challenge, in this part three of our series, continues to be putting this principle into disciplined, regular practice.  Leadership coaching, as my clients have told me, has helped leaders:

Previously we shared Part One about 1) leader listening and 2) communicating an Part Two about 3) setting a leadership agenda, 4) building shared leadership with the Board chair, and 5) educating volunteers. 

In this final, Part Three of the series we start with:

6. Make Allowances to Take Care of Yourself

An HBR Working Knowledge article on “The Seven Things That Surprise New CEOs” stated, “Most new chief executives are taken aback by the unexpected and unfamiliar new roles, the time and information limitations, and the altered professional relationships they run up against.”  That’s normal, and likely true for any scenario—from a brand new external CEO to one promoted from within or hired from the professional field of the members.

Professional coaches, Nadine Henry, Deb Nystrom (REVELN Consulting) and Nan Reed Twiss, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Create a safe spot for yourself with a mentor or trusted colleague who is not a member of your staff or association. Consider hiring a coach or forming an inner circle of advisors or mastermind group.
  • Connect with CEO peers from other organizations.
  • Be realistic about what is strategic and important, even if it isn’t urgent. There will always be more excellent ideas than capacity. A big part of your job is ensuring that you and your board articulate—and regularly assess—clear strategic priorities. That is the filter that will guide decisions about resource allocation and new programs. Create some space and budget for taking advantage of unexpected opportunities.
  • Keep everything in perspective. Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, says he is often asked, “Knowing what you know, what advice would you give to a new CEO?”  In his response, he offers these “seven truths”:
  1. Your position is not your identity.
  2. Your position is temporary not permanent.
  3. Your position is a privilege not a right.
  4. Your position is about faithfulness not achievement.
  5. Your position is about them not you.
  6. Your position is about stewardship not ownership.
  7. Your position will require more than you can provide on your own.

7. Maintain Your Health

This last item could easily be at the very top of the list. Maintaining your health—physical, mental, and spiritual—is the foundation for everything you do. Push for a routine that will transcend the chaos of your hectic days and erratic travel schedule. If possible, multiply the benefits by including family or friends in your healthy habits.

Finally, if you’re in this for the long haul, pay serious attention to balance and the things that are important to you personally. You’ll improve your work performance, strengthen your personal and business relationships, and minimize the risk of burnout.

In Conclusion

The iconic Duke University coach Mike Krezyzewski, with the most wins in NCAA Division I men’s basketball history, said that “leadership is an ever-evolving position.”  Your journey as a new CEO will be one of the most challenging and rewarding times of your career.

As for me, in 2016, I’ve seen the results of how leadership and team coaching work systemically to provide a space for high productivity, positive change and joy in accomplishment, helping our non-profit leaders succeed.  Team coaching is new and robust with performance possibilities for teams, as I’ve learned from my IFA colleague Krister Lowe (pictured below.)  Helping leaders create a culture of wellness is important,  supported by additional methods that help our clients preserve and renew themselves and their teams.

Nancy Alexander, Krister Lowe and me, Deb Nystrom at MSU, East Lansing, Michigan - after lunch and ready for an afternoon meeting with our client.
Nancy Alexander, Krister Lowe and me, Deb Nystrom at MSU, East Lansing, Michigan – after lunch and ready for an afternoon meeting with our client.  (I was at Jazzercise the morning this photo was taken.)

Through my own work as President of REVELN Consulting, and through my ongoing relationship with Ideas for Action, LLC in 2016 we look forward to helping leaders in all seven ways mentioned in this series. In your roles as a talented non-profit leader, how will your talent fully shine in 2016 assisted by health and wellness?  How will you help your team do the same?

Deb Nystrom was a senior partners at Ideas for Action, LLC—a consulting practice that is driven by a passion to empower the potential of people and organizations. She and Alan Davis and Jolene Knapp wrote this series to help non-profit leaders. They specialize in governance, management advising; organizational development; strategic planning; and executive coaching.

Other topics to for non-profit leaders include:

  • Management of finances,  
  • “It’s not too soon to think about your second contract”, “
  • The value of professional involvement and networks,
  • Successful management of the relationship between board and staff,
  • Managing disputes between board members, and
  • How to keep your ego in check.

Deb uses resources helpful to non-profit leaders from a variety of sources including Board Source. Feel free to comment below, or explore and learn more, have a chat. Contact Deb via email or phone here.

Photos by Deb Nystrom

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Published by dnrevel

Change & transition, Leadership team & organization development. Executive Leadership team coach. My LinkedIn profile:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: