The Certainty in Uncertain Times: Leadership Matters
Since November 9, I’ve fielded all manner of emails, editorials, articles and blogs reacting to the presidential election. In response, I found I needed to step back to get perspective on what matters most for organizations when a societal shift appears in motion and what happens next feels uncertain. My conclusion: the certainty in uncertain times is reflective leadership.
I’m not making a political statement; my leadership lens is focused only on nonprofits. My thinking stems from the leadership development initiative that I’m partnering on, and my enduring emphasis on what empowers and enables nonprofits to thrive. It has struck me that many what-to-do-now discussions are really about the tenets of good leadership that always apply. Here are three at the top of my what-leaders-do list:
- Seeing the big picture: All leaders may not be visionaries, but they need a broad vision of where their organization fits in the world and how the world impacts their organization. I’ve read much about nonprofits reaching out more to their constituencies and gearing up to be more proactive. But isn’t that what leaders should always promote and organizations should do, regardless? Reminders of core to-do’s may be a silver lining of uncertainty.
- Giving metrics their due: Funders from grant makers to donors want to see clear data that explains and verifies. In uncertain times those metrics may be even more valuable for demonstrating a nonprofit’s relevance and garnering support. That emphasis on accountability through reliable metrics comes from the top.
- Being firm but flexible: As a dedicated gardener I can’t resist a plant analogy – think of how a firmly rooted plant will still turn to face the sun. Leadership requires solid beliefs and an agile approach to following them. As times change, an organization’s strategies – even primary focus – may too.