Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 12


Leading Collaborative Initiatives Be the TransformationYouWant to See

Leadersinsocialbenefitorganizations that we classify as nonprofit often get stuck in the rut of scarcity thinking. We view donor resources as limited to the community where we function, and therefore develop a competitive stance in seeking donor support. In fact, money is a renewable resource. Instead of thinking about how big a piece of the perceived pie we are getting, we could think about the pie as being much larger. One strategy for creating a larger money pool is to think about community benefit, and to realize that if existing organizations compete for limited resources of people and money, then the focus is on the organization, not on the benefit to the community. After all, our purpose is to create a better world for those who live in the area of our influence. Effective Transformational Leaders seek transformation in order to achieve a powerful mission based on a worthy vision. Sharing our vision is the energy that drives results. That vision could include others working in the community, as well, whether those organizations are doing similar work or unrelated work. Think in terms of a greater impact, which might leave room for groups with contrasting objectives and different types of initiatives to combine their efforts to make more progress. In one local food distribution charity near where I live, additional organizations provide support to those needing food. The other groups serve people while they are waiting in line to register for the day’s distribution in ways such as these: • Councilors talking to people about the challenges that lead to their current

people think about possibilities, it is very easy to get excited about the possibilities and throw caution to the wind, so to speak. Our first duty as the leader is to lead; that includes analytical thinking and sometimes slowing down the process to get perspective on the entire process, including the impact on the community, as well as the impact on each organization participating and the relationships between organizations. Here’s a process for launching a collaborative effort: 1. Define the future in specific and measurable terms so that everyone knows the exact outcomes desired; 2. Ask for commitment in writing from each stakeholder so that fragile memories don’t cloud our thinking or results; 3. Define the roles and responsibilities for each task; 4. Identify the teams and actions leading to the completion of the project or event; 5. List the benefits of the collaborative effort. Plan a post-event evaluation and celebration gathering within 30 days of the completion of the event. Hugh Ballou is a Transformational Leadership Strategist and the President of SynerVision Leadership Foundation. A musical conductor for forty years, Hugh has written eight books on Transformational Leadership, and works with leaders in religious organizations and business and nonprofit communities as executive coach, process facilitator, trainer, and motivational speaker, teaching leaders the fine-tuned skills employed every day by orchestral conductors.

issues or that might be keeping them from progressing to a better place • Offering personal conversations related to life and health • Offering used clothing at a huge discount • Offering health checks of weight and blood pressure, with advice on addressing issues when parameters are out of optimal range Other charities combine efforts in live events to bring in greater attendance, get more publicity, and require less effort from any one group to plan and produce the event. The possibilities are only limited by the leader’s thinking and the organization’s interest in stepping out of the past rut into a higher functioning, more productive model. As author and speaker Richard Rohr says, “Transformed people transform people.” Transformation begins with the leader, who is the influencer of the culture. People change because we, the leaders, change. It’s not the other way around, as some might think. Fostering collaborative thinking is the track to consider, whether it’s in the form of a partnership, joint venture, affiliation, or big-time collaboration. The good spirit should, however, be backed by principles and clearly defined expectations. When

18 I Nonprofit Performance Magazine

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