Five Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Partnerships & Mergers

Over the last 20 years, there has been increasing research in the field of nonprofit mergers. How are they unique compared to the corporate sector? What are the elements that contribute to success? What are the trends being seen in the overall sector and sub-sectors? Continue reading “Five Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Partnerships & Mergers”

Three Steps to Becoming a B Corp “Best for the World”

We are all familiar with the term “Best of”… Each year businesses ask us to vote for them in a specific category, “Best Taco, Best Yoga Studio, Best Chiropractor…” Then a list is published, and it is really more of a popularity contest than a true examination of how that business is the best.   Continue reading “Three Steps to Becoming a B Corp “Best for the World””

Asking Questions For Which You Have No Answers

“Conversational rituals allow us to build common language, definitions and meanings that in turn create community. They influence our behavior at the neurochemical level.” Judith Glaser

To uncover “conversational blind spots” you have to become mindful of when you are making assumptions, interpreting incorrectly, and jumping to conclusions.

This begins with asking the right kind of open-ended questions.  Questions that open our minds to explore new avenues of thought with each other. Questions for which we have no answers.

In Conversational Intelligence, Judith Glaser explains there are three levels of conversation.  Level 1 is a basic “Tell/Ask” interaction. It is directive with no open-ended exploration.  Level 2 is more provocative and the interaction is labeled “Advocate/Inquire.”  Referred to as “Share/Discover,” Level 3 is the most dynamic and exploratory interaction.

People Sitting with Question Marks

The example below illustrates how questions from the 3 levels result in different experiences.

Level 1:

  • “Do you mind including this brochure in the donor information packet?”

You ask a question that you don’t have an answer to but it is really a statement in disguise.  This is “tell/ask” interaction to exchange information.  There isn’t much trust.  By asking the question this way, you are attempting to validate your own view of reality.

Level 2:

  • “I really love the brochure. It has all the compelling elements for donors. What do you think? Is there anything stopping you from getting on board with this?”

This exchange is dominated by “advocate/inquire” dynamics. You are advocating for what you want (not just telling). You are inquiring about the other person’s beliefs in an effort to persuade them. Trust is conditional.

Level 3:

  • “Which of these pieces of collateral do you think will be the most compelling for this donor? Are there any concerns we should talk through before making a decision?”

This conversation is marked by “share/discover” dynamics.  By asking in this way, you are sharing that you’re open to being influenced and that you care about your colleague’s thoughts. This signals to the listener that they can offer ideas and you both influence the decision that achieves greater shared success.

Learning to ask an open-ended question for which you have no answer strengthens your ability to have meaningful conversations that lead to transformational results.

Stay tuned for more C-IQ tips!  This is part of a blog series on Conversational Intelligence course by Judith E. Glaser. Check out related blogs such as “Listening to Connect” and “What We Can Learn from our Worst Conversations.”

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock

Metrics for Success: Which Leadership Assessment is Right for You and Your Team?

There are dozens of assessment tools to choose from if you are a CEO, manager, human resources professional, board member, or community leader. As your partner, Vista Global helps you cut through the clutter and match your needs to the industry’s leading assessments.

Team Assessment Meeting

The first step when selecting the right assessment is to determine your desired outcome. Do you want to use the assessment to help leaders see their blind spots and be more successful with their teams? Do you want teams to be more effective working together? Do you want to support leaders in building more effective interpersonal skills?

Based on your desired outcome, Vista Global partners with you throughout the assessment process. Three of the most trusted assessments are detailed below.

Leadership Practices Inventory 360

Developed using the Leadership Challenge framework research by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI)® assessments help you gain clarity on your vision and purpose. These tools are designed to help you develop your skills within the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.

The LPI 360 measures 30 specific leadership behaviors on a 10-point scale. This tool is self-administered and is completed by observers such as co-workers, managers, and the staff you manage, giving you a complete picture of your leadership strengths and areas for improvement.

The Leadership Challenge framework also offers the Student LPI, specifically designed for high school and collegiate students in leadership roles.

StrengthsFinder

The leading benchmark for understanding an individual’s talents, the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment, provides a customized inventory of your unique talents. Based on the book by Gallup executive Tom Rath and the survey work of his grandfather at the University of Nebraska, Donald Clifton, this tool is designed to build on your strengths first and foremost.

A person’s talents – those thoughts, feelings, behaviors that come naturally – are the source of his or her true potential. Contrary to traditional professional development that focuses on fixing weaknesses, Gallup’s research proves that building on talents increases employee engagement, productivity, retention and organizational profitability.

TalentSmart Emotional Intelligence

Research shows that a leader’s emotional intelligence (or EQ) is the single greatest predictor of success. Using the TalentSmart assessment, Vista Global helps you assess your EQ and improve the interpersonal skills you need to achieve your personal and professional goals.

The most simplified individual assessment takes about 10 minutes and delivers scores on key components of your EQ such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Are you looking to get started with a leadership development initiative? Contact Mary today to discuss what assessment is right for you.

 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel via Shutterstock.

Creating the Environment: Moving from Distrust to Trust

This is the third in a blog series about the course on Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser.

The third module called, “Aspiring Conversations” explores the neurochemistry of aspirations and how different conversations activate chemicals that either open or close the space for aspirations to grow.

A recent Harvard Business Review article by Paul Zak, “The Neuroscience of Trust” states that employees in high-trust cultures have 100% more energy at work, 76% more engagement, and are 50% more productivity. Zak identifies eight management behaviors that foster trust. One of those behaviors is “intentionally building relationships.”

Meetings Designed to Build Trust

One way to intentionally build relationships is the design of meetings. You can shift the outcome of a meeting by starting with a trust-building activity. This will slow down the primitive (fear-based brain) and allow other parts of the brain to actively engage and shift toward a belief that this will be a good experience.

“Knowing others is intelligence, knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength, mastering yourself is true power.” — Laozi

I have seen many meetings start with “ground rules”. The “do’s and don’ts” checklists do not activate the prefrontal cortex-heart brain connection where we have our whole mind, heart, and body invested in the outcome of the meeting.

The heart brain is the most basic of our hardwiring. It enables us to connect to others. We are either in sync or out of sync with others. If we are in sync, we move towards the person as friends. If we are out of sync, we feel hesitation and move away, feeling the person may be a foe.

The prefrontal cortex is the youngest bring, often called the “Executive Brain”. It provides us with the ability to see the future, create scenarios, and have empathy.

How do we engage the prefrontal cortex and heart brains?

Start meetings not with “Ground Rules” but “Group Agreements”. Rules close down the brain for some people. If they see “rules” as stifling, just using that word may have them begin the meeting already in a state of opposition. Agreements create a framework for a social contract, which brings people together.

Group Agreements Move toward Trust

To begin the exploration, ask everyone to identify one practice or behavior that would give this meeting the best outcome. What do we usually hear? “Respect other’s opinions.” “Be open to other ideas”.

Here is where this approach is different… when someone using one of those frequently offered words, as a facilitator, use a skill called “double-click”. Just like a computer folder, to open up to deeper meaning, you double-click. Saying something like, “When you say ‘respect’, what does that mean for you?” This helps get to the core essence of what is important for that person.

Make sure you hear from everyone in the room. If someone is quiet, reach out to them and ask, “What behaviors are important to you?” You want everyone’s voice and therefore brain activated, moving toward the prefrontal cortex-heart connection.

Here is another important distinction from ground rules. Once you have your list, ask people to identify how they can give feedback if a group member is not honoring the agreements. This helps give agency and ownership to the team to be transparent, and supportive to guide the behaviors, that they agreed will create the successful outcomes for the meeting.

When you create group agreements using double-clicking and establish collective ownership for monitoring the practice of those agreements, your meeting is primed with the level of trust in the environment that fosters a culture of aspiration. Anything is possible!

Stay tuned for more tips to have meaningful conversations that transform leaders and organizations.

This is the third in a blog series. Read the first blog at “Listening to Connect” and the second blog at “What We Can Learn from our Worst Conversations.”

 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel via Shutterstock.

Nonprofits on the Move with Mergers

Too often discussions around nonprofit partnerships and mergers focus on the financial drivers. For example, one nonprofit may be in crisis and rather than shutter operations, it seeks to form a new organizational structure with another, more financially robust organization.

But there is another important reason nonprofit leaders should consider exploring partnerships: mission impact. This plays out in a variety of ways.  If you are successful in achieving your mission, then it stands to reason that over time, your mission may need to evolve. Or perhaps your client population has shifted dramatically with the region’s changing demographics? Or better still, what if the social problem your organization originally formed to address dramatically improved or changed?

Lessons from San Francisco and Beyond

Such pivots are currently apparent in the nonprofit subsector of HIV/AIDS-related services. Many nonprofits, founded 30 years ago, focused on an acute public health crisis impacting a smaller demographic segment of the population. But over the decades, as new drug treatment modalities became available and as the disease spread across other demographic segments, the service models and organizations had to adapt to the chronic, long-term needs associated with supporting HIV positive clients.

This summer, the San Francisco Chronicle and Nonprofit Quarterly reported how “Clients have gone from young men who were dying at 25 to older patients who, at 55, are still living. Currently, more than half of the people with HIV in San Francisco are 50 or older. Improved safer sex practices and advances in drug therapies and medical treatments have shrunk the client base dramatically; some agencies serve half the number they did in the mid-1990s.”

These trends have led some nonprofits to shift focus. For example, food services for clients have evolved to serve healthier food for those also living with diabetes and heart disease. Other nonprofits have merged together to provide a range of services around housing, mental health, or substance abuse prevention, in addition to HIV/AIDS-related support.

The need for HIV/AIDS nonprofits to refocus their operations has not been limited to the San Francisco Bay Area. New partnership models, collaborations, and mergers have taken place throughout the U.S. For example, Vista Global supported the cultural integration process for the merger of the AIDS Network and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin.

Photo: AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW). Grand Opening of new Medical Home. June, 2016.
Photo: AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW). Grand Opening of new Medical Home. June, 2016.

Exploring the Implications for Other Sectors

The rapid changes in the HIV/AIDS-related space offer lessons that can be applied across sectors. For example, to survive the wake of the Great Recession, arts nonprofits explored a range of collaborations.  City government agencies are considering mergers as well, as highlighted by the recent merger of the offices of Homelessness and Welfare for New York City.

With the fallout from the U.S. housing crisis, social service nonprofits also have to pivot as the face of the homeless population changes. Currently, Vista Global is working with four nonprofits serving the homeless population to explore program collaboration and merger options.

Are the leaders of your nonprofit considering a program collaboration or merger? Share your story in the comments section below or contact Mary today to learn more.