Improve Leadership with Diversity and Cultural Intelligence

A recent blog in the Standford Social Innovation Review by Molly Brennan explores new research by Koya Leadership Partners and Education Pioneers, that finds diverse teams of varying racial and ethnic makeup produce better results.  A conclusion that many of us who specialize in leadership development have already witnessed anecdotally.

In the social sector, the importance of a nonprofit’s leadership team reflecting their constituency is more critical than ever. As Brennan points out, to succeed, nonprofits need to move past diversity statements stated in an organization’s list of values.  Nonprofits must start cultivating leadership teams that backup such statements.

Brennan continues in Five Ways to Build Diverse Inclusive Leadership Teams to outline concrete tactics that can greatly benefit organizations in both the private and social sectors.


Where is Home?

Cultural Intelligence begins with knowledge. It’s critical for you to know yourself, know others, and find a way to lead together. Vista Global offers workshops on Cultural Intelligence for you to:

1. Examine the trends that are driving the need for greater cultural intelligence

2. Define culture, cultural intelligence and map personal cultural identity

3. Recognize the cultural lenses through which you operate

By exploring the national ethnic and demographic trends impacting the social sector, as a workshop participant you’ll learn the foundational elements of cultural intelligence required to build a thriving organization.

Through building skills in self management, empathy and listening, you can build bridges to mutual understanding. Gain greater awareness of how to adjust behavior to interact with various cultures.  Contact Mary to schedule your organization’s workshop today.


When a Nonprofit Is Your Friend for Life

Being dedicated to social impact can be a life-long pursuit and passion. Do you have a personal story of when a nonprofit became your friend for life?

My friend for life, AMIGOS, taught me that if you open yourself to discovering other cultures and the way people live in other places, you will build bridges that make the world a better place for all to thrive.

How did we meet? The power of word of mouth

In the Spring of 1987, on the campus of UC Berkeley, I found myself sitting in the Study Abroad office going through piles of pamphlets and flyers of “Summer Abroad” experiences. As a 21 year old self-supporting college student,  I wanted to do something adventurous and meaningful over summer break while improving my Spanish skills.

None of the flyers or pamphlets were compelling. Uninspired… I asked friends what they have done during the summer, particularly a friend who was studying Spanish. He urged me to check out Amigos de las Americas and I was thrilled to find their program was a perfect fit. The program entailed spending 6-8 weeks in a rural community in 1 of 8 different Latin American countries.

How did we become friends? Sometimes it takes a village

Before the internet (when dinosaurs roamed the earth), college students had to make a phone call and request an information packet be snailmailed in order to apply. After receiving my application, I was shocked to learn the program cost $2500!

Keep in mind, at that time, $2500 was the same amount as tuition for a semester of college. At first, I didn’t see how I could apply for the program and pay for the next year’s tuition because I would also lose that income from not working all summer.

AMIGOS was there to help, by providing a fundraising letter template. I sent an appeal letter to family members and family friends, a total of 25 appeals and waited. Generously, donations began to arrive as $100 came in, $50 came in, $25 came in…

I waited to deposit the checks, so I could return the donations in the event I didn’t meet the fundraising goal. With just a few days before the application payment was due, I was still short $500. Then, one more check arrived, exactly $500 from my Great Aunt Harriet.  Aunt Harriet, then retired, had served as the Dean of Randolph Macon College in Virginia for decades.  The note included with her check said,  “the best investment in education is seeing the world.”

I spent 8 weeks in Ecuador that summer which inspired me to pursue a graduate degree in Latin American Studies and embark on a career of working to make a difference in my local community and communities globally.

How did we stay friends? Giving back comes full circle

Twenty-five years after that summer in Ecuador, I was Chair of the Board of Directors of AMIGOS. I wanted to continue my commitment to creating opportunities for other students to change themselves…and help change the world.

What’s Your Story?

Do you have a nonprofit friend for life? I want to hear from you! Share your story in the comments below or contact me. Part of my mission at Vista Global Coaching & Consulting is to help leaders make a difference in the world. Share your story so we can inspire others to do the same!

New Resources on Nonprofit Success Factors

As a contributing author, I’m excited to share new publications from Public Interest Management Group that address the question “What contributes to nonprofit success?” This action research project examines 32 success factors in five categories: Strategy, Culture, Operations, People and Business Model.

The Success Factor Analysis is a fresh data-driven approach to nonprofit management.  Read an overview of new publication Success Factors for Nonprofit Organizations: A New Approach to the Development of Thriving Mission-Driven Enterprises to learn more.


Read the new blog by Public Interest Management Group founder, Scott Schaffer, for an introduction to the Organizational Success Index and more!

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.

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.


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!