Adams says, “Goal thinkers only see what’s between them and the goal line. Systems thinkers avoid slow moving problems.” Scott points out the difference between being tactical, working to the goal, and being strategic, creating a system that generates goals. Foresight is how we engineer our systems that generate value for our constituents. We must look beyond the horizon to deliver consistent, sustainable, and scalable value. What is your vision horizon? If it’s not at least three years out, you’re on a downward path. When did you last revisit your vision? If it’s not in the last thirty days, you’re developing blind spots. Business Acumen Most leaders have strong skills in one area of business acumen: sales,marketing,operations, or knowledge base.Those who abdicate other responsibilities, without knowing how to select, direct, and manage those functions, almost always court disaster. I have done this and it almost tanked my organization. Successful executives understand and direct business strategy and tactics, refusing to abdicate responsibility because of a lack of understanding, instead investing in knowing what’s required and why without necessarily knowing all the details of how it’s accomplished. The seven pillars of business are as follows. 1. Products that create unique value for the target market 2. Marketing that triggers relevant conversations 3. Sales that facilitate profitable transactions 4. Customer/client service that earns loyalty 5. Operations that scale with economic cycles 6. Finance that controls cash flow and funds the future 7. Culture that upholds a unique brand experience Don’t get hung up on the concept of sales as a nonprofit. This defines how you collect the funds, recruit your volunteers, or enroll your congregation, the consummation of the mutual relationship.

How frequently do you agree to things that you really don’t want? How often do you think that you could have gotten more with the other party still happy? How often do you feel that you could have beenmore persuasive? If it’s not rare, consider a course in executive negotiation skills or learn persuasion skills. Resourceful Decisions Successful executives are comfortable with uncertainty. They can act without knowing the complete roadmap because they have decision-making systems that lead to more resourceful decisions than bad decisions. For example, you drive at night by seeing only the area ahead of you illuminated by headlights, never seeing the entire road. You know your destination, making course corrections along the way. The result is efficient allocation and management of resources: time, personal energy, imagination, people, and money. Resourceful decisions are based on a combination of the skills discussed above, plus a decision strategy that effectively considers the elements of the decision. The best executives use a checklist to ensure that critical elements get considered. Gut decisions aren’t scalable, because you can’t teach others your gut method like you can with a decision checklist. Your gut is the final test, not the only test. Do you have a decision-making checklist, one that you routinely use and refine? If not, build it. How Did You Do? Be honest with yourself, as you’re the one to benefit. Now that you’ve identified where you need to build your executive strengths, put together your personal plan to make it happen. Mark S A Smith, a veteran of the business world who works with companies large and small to achieve their strategic goals for successful growth and sustainability, uses a holistic view of the business to deliver unique, valuable, and pragmatic ideas. He is the author of 13 popular books and sales guides and more than 400 magazine articles, and hosts the weekly podcast, SellingDisruptionShow.com . He is a genuine Guerrilla Marketing guru, a certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach, and is on the faculty of the forthcoming SynerVision Summit. Mark.Smith@BijaCo.com MarksOnLinkedIn.com ExecutiveStrategySummit.com

Can you clearly articulate your association brand? Branding is not your logo, color palate, or any other design element. Branding is a customer experience that • They are willing to pay for • They want to repeat • They can’t get anywhere else • They’ll tell others about How proficient are you at each of the seven business pillars? Where do you need to improve your acumen? How can you get tutoring in the elements of that pillar? Communication Skills A successful executive must communicate ideas and actions clearly, aligned with how the audience is receiving communication, and judiciously use humor. Most teamwork issues are rooted in lack of communication skills or the inability to adjust communication styles to the person and task at hand. For example, there are times to be general in language, and there are times when extreme detail is required. Mixing up the generality or circumstance will incite boredom or confusion. Each role in your organization requires a different approach to processing information. For example, your treasurer must be detail oriented and by the rules, while marketing must be flexible and creative. They require different approaches to communication and conversation. Successful executives take responsibility to communicate in the way that works for their people. That’s often different from their natural way of communication. For this reason, you must choose people you don’t necessarily like to do tasks that you don’t like to do. How often does your team have problems getting your message? If it’s more than rarely, you must work on your understanding of how people communicate. Persuasion Skills To lead, you must persuade others to align their priorities with yours. This requires negotiating skills and the ability to create agreement that all involved will accept. Successful executives know that negotiating ability is both the skills of getting more from their resources and being able to resist the demands of those who are out of alignment with the organization’s principles.

26 I Nonprofit Performance Magazine

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