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Positioning People as your most Powerful Resource

Positioning People as your most Powerful Resource

Every great leader comes to the same inevitable conclusion:

Great leadership is less about telling people what to do, and more about modeling the behavior that you know your people are capable of.   ← Tweet this

Michelangelo once said that inside every block of stone dwells a beautiful statue. You only have to remove the excess material to reveal the work of art within.

People are like those blocks of stone. The more we trust people, the more we expect the best from them, the more they thrive and excel.

  • The new staff lead who is given enough space from his/her boss to go hunt down the root causes of an issue in the finance department.
  • The junior development lead that develops and entirely new process for tax receipting or donor recognition tracking
  • The Director of Development that trusts you enough to bring his/her challenges with a key programming/hospital/community lead for advice and support.

I call the act of trusting our team the art of “Giving an A.”

Giving an A

Imagine how your office would function differently if you assumed that everyone was doing their best, and that they deserved an A for their efforts. If we assume that people are doing their best, we do away with all the effort and energy spent on justifying our positions, explaining our actions, and managing office politics.

As leaders, once we’ve given an “A” we’re on the same side as our direct reports: we’re working together to address systemic problems and challenges. The “them and us” mentality is gone.

How transformational is that?!

Setting expectations

Let me be clear that I am not saying “don’t have performance reviews” or “don’t have metrics.” Quite the opposite. These are integral to motivating an ambitious employee.

What I am saying, is your job as a leader is to help people thrive.

Selfishly, they’ll be better at their jobs (which is a big bonus for you) but the exercise of “giving people an A” also transforms you, the leader.

  • Assuming your staff have the organization’s best interests in mind
  • Spending time on your clarifications of your expectations (instead of asking them why they didn’t meet their goals)
  • Clarifying what a great working relationship looks like for you, so that they can meet you halfway in this process.

I have mentioned the Chavender Leadership Approach before. The three 3 phases of leadership development from a PEOPLE perspective include:

Awareness —I’ve got some basic people management skills and I’ve learned how to hire for fit, attitude and culture.

Engagement—I know myself well enough to know how I interact with people. I’ve got performance plans and professional development defined for my staff and I have built credibility with my team.

Visionary—I use my leadership skills to empower my high-performance team and board. My vision is sustainable, and focused on the pillars of a Culture of Philanthropy.

(Download my 1 page outline of my Chavender Leadership Approach here to follow along.)

People are our single biggest asset in the not-for-profit sector. They should also be our single biggest focus.   ← Tweet this



Who have you NOT been “giving an A” to at work?

How can you come at this relationship differently so you can interpret their behavior differently, and build some trust and rapport…for MUTUAL benefit? Coming to a better place together is much more effective than finding the lowest common denominator that you can agree on.

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In the coming weeks, I’ll be talking more about my 6 dimensions of fundraising success. Click here to get my Chavender Leadership Approach outline so you can follow along with me, and take your own self-assessment of where you fit in your leadership journey.

Awareness – Engagement – Visioning

I’ve also got a Facebook group where we’re talking about people, and how to work most effectively with them. Join the conversation and be inspired.