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””

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.

It is Never Too Early to Develop Your Leadership Skills

There is so much literature about leadership development in the professional space, whether it is the corporate or social sector. However, leadership development begins as soon as children have the capability to experience self-awareness.  Children begin their leadership journey when they learn how to share, to communicate appreciation, and to talk about their dreams.  These experiences are all building blocks of leadership.

One of my current clients, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) believes at its core that it is never too early to develop leadership skills.  The mission of NSBE is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black Engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community.  NSBE is a student-governed national organization committed to youth leadership development for more than 40 years.

Vista Global has been working with NSBE to design and implement a comprehensive leadership development curriculum that builds students’ competencies.  Several of those competencies focus on defining and understanding yourself as a leader. The first phase of any leadership program is examining your own leadership talents and skills. You have to know yourself before you can bring out the best in others.

Vista Global relies on the field’s best methodologies and tools to help clients strengthen their leadership skills, including the framework of The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.  This framework is effective because it was developed by conducting thousands of interviews of ordinary managers talking about a personal best experience when they had extraordinary results. Through these interviews and surveys, the researchers arrived at Five Practices that were universally demonstrated by these leaders. The Five Practices include:

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to Act
  5. Encourage the Heart

This framework is one of the few resources that has a customized design for student leaders, including a 360 Student Leadership Practice Inventory  (SLPI) assessment tool.  It evaluates 30 specific behaviors (6 for each practice).  It is a clear and concise way to determine how well a leader demonstrates a Practice.  The 360 degree aspect of the assessment includes observers that have seen the leader in action and can offer their perspective on the frequency of demonstration of behaviors.

This last weekend, I met with 80 members of the NSBE Collegiate leadership to review their individual results from the SLPI and start the process of developing a leadership action plan.  Each student determined one specific behavior to work on over the next month and identified an accountability partner to provide support and encouragement.

Leadership development is a lifelong journey and the NSBE leaders have a jump start on many leaders in the work force! If you are interested in learning more about The Leadership Challenge or 360 assessments, contact Mary today.

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.

Culture First: Tips on Nonprofit Merger Success through Organizational Cultural Integration

Too often people think of nonprofit mergers as a frantic survival strategy for organizations in a state of financial crisis. However, robust nonprofit organizations are using a range of partnership, consolidation and strategic alliance models not to survive, but to thrive.

MergerStrongerOrg

In early 2015, AIDS Network and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) announced their merger, supported by a grant from the AIDS United Sector Transformation Initiative. The organizations were not in crisis. The merger goal was to combine two strong organizations and expand services to patients and clients.

“Wisconsin has always been a national leader in the fight against AIDS. Our merger will enhance this leadership position. By combining the best of our two organizations, we will enhance services, improve clinical outcomes, and generate new financial resources, all of which are critical as we continue on our quest for a world without AIDS.”

– ARCW President & Chief Executive Officer Michael Gifford.

Some Merger Integration Do’s and Don’ts

Vista Global Coaching & Consulting facilitated the negotiations and the organizational integration for AIDS Network and ARCW.  The continuity of consulting support over the course of both phases expedited the entire process. The timeframe from the initial conversation of the negotiation team to the celebration of the merger integration process was 18 months.  Although the process was efficient, it was not without intention and focus.

Don’t Ignore Culture in the Negotiation Phase

Honor important cultural elements of pre-merger organizations. Surface and address historical challenges in relationships between organizations to move forward in creating a new narrative. Sensitivity to power imbalances and strategies to mitigate those imbalances from the beginning of negotiations, sends the clear message to staff of both organizations that we are in this together to create a stronger organization that will better serve clients.

It is important to build relationships among the negotiation team members and develop a shared vision. Crafting ‘Strategic Intent Statements’ supports transparency and documents a process rooted in good faith which allows the group to point to that shared intent when there are bumps along the way.

Do Make Culture the First Priority in Integration

It is easy to launch into the systems and structural integration elements of combining two organizations but there is great risk in not putting emphasis on culture as the first priority.  Without this focus, it is easy for staff to stay locked in the pre-merger cultures and fall into “us v. them” perspectives.  Building an integrated culture is critical for long-term success.  Cultural integration requires intention, structure and tools to support the transformation.

To begin a cultural integration process, it can be helpful to use an assessment tool that provides an objective framework of the cultures of the combining organizations. In the AIDS Network-ARCW integration process, we used the Organizational Culture Assessment Inventory (OCAI). The tool allowed the merger integration team to look at the existing cultures and determine the preferred culture moving forward.  Identifying the vision of the preferred culture and the behaviors and beliefs that align with that preferred culture sets the course for “being the change we want to see” in the new organization.

Leadership Takeaways and the Return on Investment

Leaders need to understand when it is important to push for rapid changes and when it is more important to pause, listen, and allow members of the organization time to process. In the integration phase, building a “guiding coalition” of staff from all levels of both pre-merger organizations is a critical success factor.  The ARCW Merger Integration Team had 14 staff members.  These individuals became the change agents as the structural integration process began.  Eight work groups were established that included approximately 50% of all employees.  Even though ARCW is a statewide organization with 10 offices, every staff member was engaged in the integration process.

Strong nonprofits considering merger will be most successful if they go beyond just negotiations and invest financial resources, time, and staff in the integration process. Invest in a structure of internal leadership combined with external consultant support. Create early wins before and after the merger to maintain the momentum necessary to build a new organization.

Organizational culture can be abstract or intangible. A nonprofit’s culture is the sum of many parts. For a successful cultural integration, leaders need to acknowledge the value of each part.  The successful AIDS Network and ARCW merger integration is proof that cultural integration is possible when leaders invest in the process.

What is your experience in cultural integration?  We would love to learn more from you about this critical success factor. Contact Mary today!