In today’s podcast, Patton McDowell from PMA Nonprofit Leadership and Stephen Halasnik from Financing Solutions discuss key ingredients to nonprofit leadership. Effective leadership is critical to the successful operation of every nonprofit. Therefore, every nonprofit leader should acquire the requisite leadership skills that will help make a huge impact in their organizations.

Seven Steps to Nonprofit Leadership

Leadership is critical to the growth and development of every organization, including nonprofits. 

It’s an essential management function that helps in the direction of nonprofits’ resources for improved efficiency and the achievement of nonprofits’ causes. Effective nonprofit leadership clarifies purpose, motivates, and guides the organization to realize its mission. 

However, leadership is learned. And every nonprofit leader needs to level up their leadership skills to greatly impact the organization they lead. After all, nonprofit leadership seems to be more complex than for-profit organizations due to its unique governance cycle, fewer resources, and inadequate staffing. In other words, the leader is often the manager and the worker bee in the nonprofit, thereby adding an extra layer of complexity to nonprofit management.  Nonprofit leadership

Regardless, this piece helps every nonprofit leader identify the essential skills and requisite experience to improve their organization.

Below are the seven steps that are critical to nonprofit leadership according to Patton McDowell in his book, ‘Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership. 

Shop your vision

Nonprofit leaders should have a visual framework that helps them define what they will do for their nonprofits over the next one, three, five, or ten years. A vision is a clear mental image of what you want your nonprofit to be like at some specific time in the future based on your goals and mission. Having a vision gives your nonprofit organization a strategic focus and keeps you on the track to achieve your nonprofit objectives. 

Map your course

It literary means the different skills and overall experience you have as a leader. In other words, every nonprofit leader should strive to acquire the relevant set of skills that enable them to carry out their responsibilities more effectively.

Get in shape

Every nonprofit leader should mentally, physically, and organizationally get in shape for effective leadership. You need to work to have good and robust health to be strong or fit to pilot your nonprofit affairs. 

Curate knowledge 

Nonprofit leaders should have an established system for curating knowledge to keep them on the cutting edge. In other words, nonprofit leaders should put in place tools such as libraries and digital resources that allow them to organize the deluge of information that keeps coming in to help advance their nonprofits. The nonprofit world is constantly evolving, and every nonprofit leader should keep learning to be on top of things.

Express yourself

Fundamentally, nonprofit leaders should have great communication skills. Communication skills enable nonprofit leaders to understand others and to be understood themselves. A nonprofit leader should be able to speak appropriately, listen attentively, have self-confidence, be observant and show empathy. 

Build community

As a nonprofit leader, you should be to build strategic networking and develop a personal board of directors to support you on your path. Strategic networking helps connect your nonprofit cause to the community of donors and volunteers. Plus, having a board of directors would help you in decision-making and promote your nonprofit. 

Practice leadership

You have to build an organization that allows your employees and volunteers to get better in what they do. And this will elevate your overall productivity on every personal and professional level. 

Strategic Plan for Nonprofit Leadership

Every nonprofit leader that craves success should have an execution plan for their nonprofit operations. Strategic planning for nonprofit leadership is the art of developing, implementing, and evaluating a specific nonprofit’s strategies concerning the overall nonprofit long-term goals. 

However, experience has shown that it’s pretty great to have your vision or strategic plan on one page. The One Page Strategic Plan is a powerful tool that helps you focus your vision and strategy down to a single, action-oriented page. According to Verne Harris, if you articulate your strategy on one page, you will get everyone in your company on the same page. In other words, the one-page strategic plan keeps you on your toes while accomplishing your set goals.

In addition, just like nonprofit leaders have a strategic plan for their organizations, it’s also essential they develop their own personal strategic plan. 

Final Thought on Nonprofit leadership

Exceptional leaders gravitate to their core competence and delegate duties in their areas of weakness. Plus, they have personal organization and are passionate about what they do. Moreso, they are always eager to acquire knowledge to help them thrive in their leadership endeavors. Thus, nonprofit leaders should periodically conduct personal assessments to ascertain their blind spots and improve on them. 

Learn About Our Guest on Today’s Podcast 

Patton McDowell is a nonprofit expert, best-selling author, speaker, and coach. He leads PMA Nonprofit Leadership, a consulting practice he founded after his successful twenty-year career in the nonprofit sector. He is a frequently sought-after consultant and speaker on nonprofit issues of strategic planning, organizational development, and staff & board leadership. Patton received a BA from UNC-Chapel Hill, an MBA from the Queens University of Charlotte, and a Doctorate from the University of Southern California. He’s a Certified Fundraising Executive, a Master Trainer for AFP International, and Director of the Institute for Philanthropic Leadership.

More About Stephen Halasnik

Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders and their teams. Stephen is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions, a leading provider of Lines of Credit to nonprofits, which is similar to business loans for nonprofits. Stephen is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. 

Stephen lives in New Jersey and his top life mission is to raise his two sons, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.