Category Archives: Staff Dynamics

Leadership styles, part 2: Have you flipped your iceberg lately?

pegacorn_stickerHappy Monday, everyone. Due to requests, here is some new NWB merchandise based on the mythical creatures leadership styles I wrote about. Now you can proudly proclaim that you are a Dragon, Phoenix, Pegacorn, or Griffin. I changed unicorn to Pegacorn to distinguish from the general nonprofit unicorn, and Lion-Turtle to Griffin because I didn’t want Nickelodeon to sue me. Thanks to the ever-brilliant Stacy, who designs this website, for creating these mugs and t-shirts.

Just to recap, Dragons are decisive and action-oriented and would rather run into traffic than talk about their feelings. Phoenixes have lots of energy and vision and are great communicators, but they’re easily distracted. Pegacorns bring harmony and consensus and are great listeners but are often indecisive. And Griffins ground everyone in processes and data and are great analyzers but can be too perfectionistic and slow to action. Continue reading

29 tips for being a horrible supervisor that everyone hates

cat-1599158_1280Hi everyone. Last week, I wrote about the importance of firing people faster. Some employees are not effective, and sometimes they’re downright toxic, and we need to let them go. However, often it’s not the employee who is incompetent or toxic, but their supervisors. So, to bring balance, this week, I am writing about horrible bosses. I asked the NWB Facebook community to send in horror stories. I got nearly 200 comments, which I’ve artisanally curated and quoted below. Due to being thrown-up on by a six-month-old baby among other fatherly adventures, I couldn’t include everyone’s input. We may have to make this into a series (like the nonprofit children’s books series, but less hilarious and more horrifying).

Get some coffee and some aspirins ready; this may be a little painful. Continue reading

25 things awesome board members do

beyond-1157000_960_720Hi everyone. A colleague asked me to write about what board members can do to be helpful to staff. Nonprofit board members are critical to the success of organizations. We rely on y’all for so many important things and are deeply grateful for all the time, skills, connections, and resources you give, especially considering that the majority of board members are volunteers.

However, boards are also the direct cause of 39% of brain aneurysms in the sector, according to statistics that I made up. So I asked the NWB Facebook community to help develop a list of what awesome board members do. This is not a list of board roles and responsibilities, which you can google, or find at BoardSource, but actual, down-to-earth, sometimes seemingly minor stuff. One colleague writes this of one of her board members:

When your fundraiser is on the same night as an ice storm, he personally salts the sidewalks and parking lot. Then when all the salt runs out he goes to the gas station down the road and buys more salt to finish the job. He also demands car keys from me and coworker at the end of the night to defrost and scrape our car windows. And somehow in the midst of all that he also pays several hundreds of dollars on an auction item and poses for tons of pictures with the kids. #oneofthebest Continue reading

Alarmists, disruptors, weasels, and 9 other annoying types of people in nonprofit

opossum-309264_960_720Hi everyone, life with a newborn has been going well. The baby has all these cute and amusing facial expressions, and he smells really nice, like general operating funds. In my sleep-deprived state, however, my memory is terrible, and I’ve been having more vivid and terrifying dreams. For instance, the other day I dreamed I was attacked by this aggressive possum who kept biting my pant legs and I kept trying to kick at it in futility. I woke up in cold sweat and remembered it was time to plan our annual gala.

So anyway, there’s no deep analysis in today’s post. Instead, I want to continue my belated birthday tradition of poorly edited ranting about people who get on my nerves. Last year, I ranted about board members who don’t give, people who suck at designing forms, the reply-all people, volunteers who only want to do stuff around the holidays, people who don’t respond to Doodle polls, the chronically late, gossipers, whiners, people who don’t follow through and are sucky team players, automatic naysayers, people who should work for for-profits, and those who don’t wash their damn dishes.

Thanks to the NWB Facebook Community, we can add to the list. Now, 95% of people in our sector are awesome. But we can all certainly improve. Check these out below, and if you’re guilty of any of them, stop it right now: Continue reading

15 lessons for the nonprofit sector we learned in 2015

fireworks-728412_960_720Hi everyone, I hope you are having a restful and much-deserved break and are reading this in bed while sipping on a nice single-serving box of red wine, like I like to do on the weekends. Next week, the new year starts, and I am excited. Personally, because my new baby boy arrives in March, and I’m looking forward to meeting him. He will be named Equity and get all his older brother’s used clothing. As soon as he can hold his head up, his training to be a nonprofit warrior will start, just like for his brother, who at 2 years old can put sticky dots on easel paper at community forums.

2016 will be a game-changing year for our sector, I just know it. From my conversations with readers and colleagues, there is a hunger for us all to do things differently, to examine complex issues, to talk honestly about challenges, to express our needs assertively and push back against the forces that prevent us from doing our work. There are long-held philosophies and beliefs, among ourselves as well as within society, that we must unravel, and there are several critical polarities we must shift. NWB will continue to bring up these conversations, this time with more urgency, more attitude, more moxie—whatever that is—, and possibly…more merchandising. (Be on the lookout for NWB T-shirts and mugs, and, if I can swing it, severed stuffed unicorn heads you can send as warnings to under-performing colleagues and board members, Godfather-style).

But first, we need to close 2015 by reflecting on the lessons we learned. Below are a few of the many I gathered, frequently the hard way, as well as some shared with me by the talented and very good-looking members of the NWB community. Some of these we’ve talked about before, and some I’ll elaborate more on in the coming year. Jot down your thoughts and lessons learned in the comment section: Continue reading