Non-Profit Leadership: Is Your Work Environment Strengths-Based?

Business and finance concept. On the table are gears, pencils and a notebook with the inscription - What Are Your Strengths

Non-profit organizations are typically mission-driven with staff who are working in the non-profit because they believe in the mission of the organization and what they are attempting to achieve. The staff is usually made of up of altruistic individuals who are not working for the salary but for the impact they believe they are having in the lives of others.

In any organization there are tasks that absolutely must be done. They may be exciting, core to the mission, or they may be task-driven or boring. Yet they are all essential and important to the mission. Non-profit leadership has the opportunity to deploy staff in a way that they can utilize their innate strengths to perform the essential tasks required for the mission.

When we think about strengths we typically think about those tasks or jobs that staff are skilled in. However, strengths should be measured with what comes natural to people. In other words, working in our strengths should energize us and make us feel strong emotionally. When working in our strengths, tasks seem easier and more fulfilling instead of draining.

Many individuals don’t even realize what their strengths are since they feel so natural, but they do know what types of jobs they are energized by. They gravitate to those jobs and would rather spend hours doing those functions rather than a few minutes doing tasks that are not natural to them.

What is important for non-profit leaders to note is that staff members are more motivated, more excited and more productive if they are operating in their strengths and not in what we characterize as their gaps or non-strengths. Designing job descriptions and deploying staff in such a way that they are spending most of their daily time doing what energizes them has  significant impact on job satisfaction and the effectiveness of the overall mission of the non-profit.

One tool we utilize to measure strengths is Strength-Finders 2.0 which features a validated online 20-minute test that provides a list and descriptions of one’s strengths and how they best can be utilized. Another way to identify strengths is when leaders recognize and identify staff members who are extremely motivated to do certain aspects of their job.

Imagine having your whole staff that is energized by their work! It is a very effective way to change your non-profit organization environment to be extremely positive and productive.

It does take some intentionality to figure out how to deploy staff in this way. We all have to do jobs that we don’t enjoy but if we strive to give our staff a job description that is largely based on their strengths, it will make that job more enjoyable and meaningful which will also increase longevity in that job.

This is so helpful to keep seasoned staff healthy and happy in their workplace. What an exciting way to work! Leaders can make it all possible as their staff  grows and develops in a strength-based environment.

Gerry Vassar


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