Non-Profit Leadership: How do You Develop Your Leadership?

As a non-profit leader we know that the most valuable asset is our staff. We work hard to make sure our staff members are trained, cared for and growing in their capacity and professionalism. So what about our leaders who are providing the supervision and mentoring of that staff? I think we can easily forget that they too need to be affirmed, developed and supported. At least for us I know this is an on-going challenge to make sure our leaders feel valued.

Our leaders are amazing people. They take on some of the same stressors as the staff they supervise but also have the added responsibility of helping staff support our clients and programs. With all the challenges that are part of our schools here at Lakeside and our clinical environments there are so many demands in meeting the needs of our students.

There is no more gratifying moment than to witness how our staff take ownership of our mission, hold tightly to our values and help our staff members do their jobs effectively. When I see how our leadership model our core beliefs I am confident that our mission and organizational culture will continue to be imbedded in our staff values and practices.

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We do need to invest in leaders by providing leadership training on a regular basis. We also need to check in with our leaders both individually and as a group as often as our schedule will allow. There are always new challenges, problems to resolve and new opportunities to help our programs grow through the leadership of those very programs.

We consistently emphasize how our leaders can utilize their strengths to enhance their role and develop the staff that they mentor. Supervision can become stressful and draining if the only focus of our leaders is to solve problems all day. They too need to be inspired and energized by using their strengths to grow their own capacity and the capacity of their staff. It is exciting to place all the challenges that we face together in the context of how we can grow as a program and organization. That sense of momentum is so encouraging and vital to the continued motivation of our leadership teams. They need that perspective of vitality and purpose in how we expand our impact – all while allowing our roles to become very fulfilling.

It is also very important for each leader to be given individual acknowledgement and affirmation for who they are and how important they are within the leadership team. It is worthwhile to create special moments and conversations with the purpose of listening, encouragement and vision for their role and purpose in the overall organization. In so many ways they are the real source of stability, implementation and growth in our programs as they guide and support our staff who are on the front lines of our mission.

Gerry Vassar


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