Become a Leadership Coach for Your Nonprofit Team
If you’re the executive director or CEO of a nonprofit, and you think you don’t have the time to be a leadership coach to your nonprofit team, you place your organization at a disadvantage. Sure, times are tough right now — but this is more reason to double down on the vision and the execution of positive activities for your community.
Here are some of the ingredients leaders have to have for success in today’s world, and that includes in the nonprofit sector:
A Leading NFL Quarterback and His Coaches
Those who know me personally understand that I’m not someone who is very into sports because I don’t have the patience for it. Candidly, I’d much rather be doing something than watching others do something.
But I am aware enough to know that Tom Brady, a leading NFL quarterback, worked with five coaches on the New England Patriots team. He had a head coach, a position coach, an assistant quarterback coach, a personal throwing coach and a health and fitness coach. Now that he has moved to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he may continue to have several coaches, but my point is about coaching, not football.
Here’s a question for your consideration: If one of the best players to ever take to the gridiron had five coaches to perfect his game, don’t nonprofit team members also need coaching expertise? And if you think that nonprofit teams have to develop professionally, what’s stopping you from being a great coach to your organization?
People are not typically born leaders; they learn how to be leaders. It doesn’t matter if you have a small, medium-sized or large team, there’s more success when you share the role of leadership among your team members. That means it’s your job to develop your team — and primarily, to develop leaders within your organization.
Why Should You Develop Leaders as a Nonprofit Coach?
I’m a student of leadership. I don’t know about you, but I love the topic, and I always think that when I’m coaching my shoe drive fundraising team to become leaders, I’m also developing as a leader. It takes a firm commitment to improving your team, but the rewards can be significant. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to grow and become sustainable if you don’t seek to help create leaders within your organization.
When you make it a point to develop leadership talent in your nonprofit, you help your team understand that they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Leaders, by their very nature, know that they are there to serve a broader purpose that extends beyond themselves.
And when you connect with those on your team who want to become leaders, they begin to set higher goals and reach higher peaks. When you develop leaders within your group, you inspire and challenge people to achieve more. You encourage them to reach further by digging deeper inside of themselves.
What Does It Take to Develop Your Team?
Candidly, I don’t think it takes tremendous effort to begin to develop your team. It just takes commitment and consistency. Leadership development is not something you decide to do one day, and then forget about it the next. There are a few additional ingredients:
- Partnership. Leadership coaching is not about pontificating about your wisdom and knowledge. Instead, it’s about working with the people you want to coach within your group and partnering with them on the journey. It could be through a formal coaching relationship. Still, more often than not, the leadership coaching partnership consists of informal conversations by the water cooler or, more importantly, modeling behavior that demonstrates what leadership should look like in your environment.
- Listening. I’m in sales, and like any great salesperson, I consider myself one of the best salesmen you’ll ever meet. But here’s something that has been the secret to my success: I listen. I think too many people talk too much. In fact, there’s so much talking going on that people forget that often the best way to make a point or uncover motivations, thoughts or ideas is to be silent. If you seek to be an excellent leadership coach for your team, listen more and talk less. And learn to get yourself to a place where you’re in meaningful conversations, and you listen 75% of the time and only speak 25% of the time.
- Intuitiveness. One of the most important things you can do to develop your team is to build your intuitive senses. Learn to follow your gut and your emotional intelligence. If you see someone, for instance, who is a junior team member, but there’s something there, and you feel it; then by all means, figure out a way to coach this person. Remember, leaders on your team do not have to be the managers. How many times have you seen junior staff members get promoted past managers because they’ve had the skills to get the job done — and lead others — much better than managers? Assume anyone can be a leader, and develop your intuition about their abilities.
In today’s competitive environment, the greatest success and victory goes to those who understand that they have to develop themselves and their team. Yes, just like Tom Brady and his five coaches.
Editor's Note: This Rethink: Social Good was originally published in the September/October 2020 print edition of NonProfit PRO. Click here to subscribe.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.