shared leadership

Why is real teamwork so rare?

posted by
Mark French

Chief Financial Officer
Blueprint Education

“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare” (Patrick Lencioni).

I believe teamwork is rare because our organizations are built in opposition to working as a team. The key to maximizing community impact is making sure everyone in the organization is pulling in the same direction. This requires clarity, commitment, and focus.

Management philosophy is stuck in the past
Every manager knows the value of teamwork. The problem is the organizational structure in most nonprofits prevents it. Most organizations are hierarchical. This structure is derived from the industrial age when mass production transformed the workplace. It has been the foundation of organizational structure for the last 100 years. Each individual is given a small piece of the work to be completed. The worker only sees his/her part with the emphasis placed on speed of production. Assembly line concepts are so ingrained in our society that they find their way into management theory as well. We assign roles, divide the work and get started. The problem is that with the quickly changing landscape of today’s challenges the assembly line concept is not agile enough to adapt to those changes.

Seven Key Skills of High Impact Nonprofit Leaders

posted by
Karen Ramsey, ACC, SPHR,
ASU Lodestar Center
NMI Instructor /
President and CEO,
Lead for Good

Becoming a great nonprofit leader... what does it look like and how does one achieve it? The topic of leadership has been deliberated at great length. Books have been written and studies have been published, but the focus has primarily been on the private sector. And, let's face it: while there are similarities in the attributes needed in both the private and nonprofit sectors, there are also some distinct differences.

I've identified seven key areas of focus that are necessary to become a great nonprofit leader. I believe these attributes may be learned and practiced to produce a great leader — you don't have to be born with them to demonstrate great leadership! The seven key leadership competencies are:

Being clear on your mission and purpose as a leader means choosing to be part of an organization where you are passionate about the work. It's about being fully aligned with your organization with an unwavering commitment to its vision and mission.

Dedicating yourself to continuous learning is at the core of investing in yourself and others. Staying current on trends and insisting on creating work/life balance are also key components.

Thinking strategically involves partnering with a diverse mix of key stakeholders to determine the direction of the organization based on the current environment and what's possible. It's about flexing and adapting as opportunities arise or circumstances change, while at the same time insisting new initiatives are pursued because they fit with the mission and vision, not just because there's money available to support them.