Ten Years of Boldly Pursuing their Dreams

I have been working in the nonprofit and social sector as a practitioner, board member and a consultant for almost 25 years. I love having the opportunity to learn about the spark that launched organizations and the vision that a founder had for the change he or she wanted to see in the world. In 2012, in partnership with Forward Community Investments, Vista Global Consulting facilitated the Girls on the Run (GOTR) Dane County strategic planning process.  We shared that experience at the National Summit. GOTR-10thAnniversaryRace As a 9-year old girl who did bold things, like play little league baseball, I am very drawn to their vision:

We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.

The culmination of the GOTR program is a 5K run. For 2 years, I heard about the wonderful experience the run was for the girls, the coaches, and the volunteers. This year I participated as a volunteer in the Dane County 10th anniversary event.  GOTR founder, Molly Barker came to Madison for the event and spoke about her vision for the organization almost 19 years ago.

GOTR-FounderRace
Photo of Girls on the Run Founder, Molly Barker, with 10th Anniversary Race participant running with her father.

I was able to experience this wonderful organization living its dreams!

If you need support in boldly pursuing your dreams, whether that is strategic planning or coaching, let’s chat, contact me today!

More Lessons for Nonprofit Storytellers

If there’s one key takeaway to share with you from Andy Goodman‘s recent workshop sponsored by the Donors Forum of Wisconsin, it’s that nonprofit leaders must not think of storytelling as optional.

Storytelling is not just another tool in the tool box to dust off when it’s time to write your organization’s annual report or new brochure.

Storytelling is an everyday requirement for your nonprofit’s communications to be successful.

Why is narrative so powerful? Humans are programmed to process information through stories. Stories are easy to remember and tell another person.  A good story is one that makes you feel something and becomes imprinted in your heart and mind.

Spouting facts and figures won’t tell your nonprofit’s story– or do anything to move your audience, as storytelling guru Annette Simmons also points out in her work.

Think of a story as a Christmas tree.  Facts and figures should be thought of as an ornament hung on the tree.  Facts are not the whole story. The story is represented by the entire tree, rooted in a compelling human experience that evokes emotion.

One outline Andy Goodman recommends is the classic Three Act structure:

Act 1:  The Protagonist

Introduce your protagonist and describe his or her goal.  This protagonist must be a person – not a faceless organization or entity! Describe the individual so your audience can make a human connection.

Act 2: The Challenge

What barriers and obstacles impede your protagonist? Paint a picture and describe a place.  Don’t rely on facts and figures to set context.

Act 3: The Resolution

How a protagonist deals with the challenges reveals their character and values.  This part of the story should detail a clear resolution and give closure to the audience.

Crafting the Right Story for the Right Audience

Your nonprofit should not be limited to just one story.  Your organization should have a library of stories to choose from depending on the audience.

What kind of stories should you tell?  Here are some types of stories to consider:

  • The “Nature of our Challenge” story
  • The “How We Started” story
  • The “Emblematic Success” story
  • The “Core Values” story
  • The “Striving to Improve” story (mostly used for internal staff to learn from mistakes)
  • The “Where We are Going” story

Is your nonprofit a good storyteller?  If you are interested in learning more about storytelling, sign up for the Goodman Center e-newsletter, Free Range Thinking.

Start crafting and collecting stories in all of the categories above.  Share these stories with every staff member, board member, and volunteer so they can be good storytellers for your organization, too!

Is Your Nonprofit Navigating Change Successfully? Here’s Your Guide to Leadership Transition and Succession Planning

Vista Global Coaching & Consulting has partnered with the Olive Grove Consulting team on an exciting national research project based on hundreds of nonprofit CEO and Board Chair surveys and interviews. Some of their answers may surprise you.

VGCC-OG-Guide-cover

What are the risks, challenges, and opportunities facing the sector today?

To start, 56% of board chairs in our study stated “the CEO doesn’t plan to leave for a long time.” but 41% of the CEOs we surveyed “plan to leave within the next two years.”

Check out our new eBook, Proactively Plan for the Inevitable: A Guide To Leadership Transition and Succession, to learn more.

This eBook is an effective staff and board resource for charting successful leadership transition and succession planning that is now available free.  Download the PDF.

Creating a robust leadership transition and succession plan might seem like a tremendously daunting task. But, with a little help it can be easier than you think. Contact us today to get started!

Grantmakers Who Get It: Investing in Leadership for Philanthropic Impact

In a recent blog post in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Ira Hirschfield, President of the  Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund presents the case that foundations need to do more to fund leadership development. In the blog “Investing in Leadership to Accelerate Philanthropic Impact,” Hirschfield points out less than 1 percent of overall foundation giving from 1992 through 2011 went to leadership development.

 

LAM-2014-Fellows
Leadership Advanced Milwaukee 2014 Fellows. Leadership Advanced is a foundation-funded, cohort-based, peer-centered, professional development program for nonprofit leaders.

Why Funding Talent Matters

Hirschfield states, “foundations ask a great deal of the organizations we support… we hope grantees will deliver transformational results for the people and places they serve. So it’s striking how seldom we back that up with funds to help organizations develop and strengthen the ability of their leaders to meet those high expectations.”

He continues “People are not born with everything it takes to manage and motivate a team, build coalitions and lead change – and are certainly not born knowing how to be good board members….”

The Haas, Jr. Fund views investment in leadership as a core strategy to accelerate their foundation’s impact and a formal evaluation of their Flexible Leadership Awards found the program boosted impact.

Adding protein powder to grantmakers energy shake

One Flexible Leadership Awards grantee shares her experience as “It’s like adding protein powder to your other grants. If you want your other grants to be successful—if you want your grantees to do the best job in meeting their deliverables and moving the ball forward in their movements—you have to invest in leadership development.”

Hirschfield explains, “This is what leadership development is about – and to the extent that foundations decide it is important and fund it, then we and our grantees will be better positioned to achieve our goals for impact.”

Read more at Hirschfield’s blog and check out SSIR’s entire Talent Matters series to learn more about philanthropy’s chronic underinvestment in leadership and innovative solutions for greater impact.

Call to Action for Grantmakers

Does your foundation want to accelerate its impact?  And what does a leadership program look like?  Check out Leadership Advanced Milwaukee, a collaboration of Vista Global and Spectrum Nonprofit Services.

Would the nonprofit leaders in your city or region benefit from a similar leadership development program?  Contact Vista Global Coaching & Consulting to learn more about starting a cohort-based, peer-centered, professional development program in your area.

Lessons from the Land Trust Alliance Rally 2014: Storytelling and Engaged Listening

Recently I delivered a workshop entitled, “Using Coaching Skills to Build Staff Leadership” at the Land Trust Alliance Rally 2014 in Providence, RI.

2014-09-19 10.21.41

I arrived not knowing that the keynote speaker for the plenary was Andy Goodman.  I heard Andy Goodman speak in 2008 in a small room at the CompassPoint Nonprofit Day so I was thrilled to hear him again talk about Building your Story as a nonprofit.  This was a slightly different experience with 1,800 people, however still engaging and catalyzing.

Change the story, change the world

A few of Goodman’s key messages in framing your organization’s story:

  • Numbers numb
  • Jargon jars
  • Stories get stored

“Stories get inside our brains and act like software. Change the story, change the world.”

He offered an easy structure to use to create our organization’s stories.

  1. Who is it about? (there has to be a protagonist)
  2. What is it about?
  3. What is the barrier? The more barriers the better, it draws people in!
  4. What does the protagonist do?
  5. And in the end… the moral, the call to action?

Golden Rules of Storytelling

The plenary flowed beautifully into the morning workshop that I attended by Heather Yandow of 3rd Space Studio entitled, “Telling Your Land Trust’s Story”.  This workshop gave participants the opportunity to write and practice their organization’s story.

Heather added her “Golden Rules” of Storytelling.

  1. Be clear about your audience
  2. It is not about you..but it is about somebody. (The protagonist)
  3. Drop the jargon
  4. Tell the truth
  5. Bring a tear to the listener’s eye (BTW, Goodman showed three video clips and they all nailed this one!)
  6. Make the “so what” clear

word-cloud-stories

Tell Your Organization’s Story

It was a inspiring learning lab and I was hoping that some of the participants that attended Heather’s workshop would attend my workshop on Coaching Skills because the interactive exercise in the workshop asks for participants to “Tell your organization’s story.”  Good fortune would have it that there were quite a few people attending my workshop that did have their story drafted and ready to tell.

Learn to Listen

Participants in my coaching workshop practiced listening- the foundational skill of coaching.  I asked them to work on mirroring, paraphrasing and drawing out the speaker.  Although it felt awkward to many, as learning any new skill does, it really raised the awareness about how well we practice fully engaged listening.

So what does listening and coaching have to do with building leadership?

Leadership is about motivating, inspiring, aligning and leveraging people’s talents.  Your ability to understand what talents your team members can contribute is enhanced by engaged listening.  Your ability to align and leverage the talents of your team members is enhanced by coaching skills.

Are you wondering how coaching and listening can build leadership throughout your organization? Give me a call, let’s chat about it!

What Can Coaching Do for You?

The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as partnering in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires you to maximize your personal and professional potential. Coaching can help you:

  • Discover, clarify, and align with what you want to achieve
  • Encourage your self-discovery
  • Guide you in generating solutions and strategies
  • Hold you responsible for achieving your goals

Improve your outlook on work and life, while improving your leadership skills and unlocking your potential.

Vista-Coaching

Vista Global can help you expand your horizons with customized coaching. Using the industry’s leading assessment tools and a field-tested coaching process for optimal results.  Find the coaching package that is right for you!

Coaching-banner

Exec-EQ-banner

CEO-Chair-banner

TeamStrength-banner

Team-EQ-banner

Learn more about Mary’s coaching process and approach. Get started and contact Mary today for your introductory assessment.