Becoming a Strategic Leader

Have you thought about what kind of leader you are? Are you a strategic leader?

Becoming a strategic leader is a journey, not a destination and it doesn't happen over night.

It takes time, effort, and commitment to develop the skills and mindset necessary to be successful.

The following tips are a starting point in making you a strategic leader:
  • Develop your strategic thinking skills. This involves being able to think long-term, see the big picture, and identify trends. You can develop your strategic thinking skills by reading books and articles on strategic leadership, taking courses, and practicing.
  • Become a visionary leader. This means having a clear vision for the future of your organization and being able to articulate that vision to others. You can become a visionary leader by thinking about what your organization could be in the future, and then working to make that vision a reality.
  • Be a risk-taker. Strategic leaders are not afraid to take risks. They are willing to experiment and try new things. You can become a risk-taker by being open to new ideas, and by being willing to fail.
  • Be a good communicator. Strategic leaders are able to communicate their vision to others in a clear and concise way. They are also able to listen to feedback and be open to change. You can become a better communicator by practicing your public speaking skills, and by being mindful of your body language and tone of voice.
  • Be a good collaborator. Strategic leaders are able to build relationships and work with others to achieve common goals. You can become a better collaborator by being open to feedback, and by being willing to share your ideas with others.
  • Be a lifelong learner. The world is constantly changing, and so must strategic leaders. They are always learning new things and adapting to change. You can become a lifelong learner by reading books and articles, attending conferences, and taking online courses.
Becoming a strategic leader is not easy, but it is definitely possible. By following these tips, you can develop the skills and mindset necessary to be successful.

Here are some additional tips on how to become a strategic leader:
  • Set clear goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve as a strategic leader? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start to develop a plan to get there.
  • Be proactive. Don't wait for things to happen. Take the initiative and make things happen.
  • Be persistent. Don't give up easily. Keep working towards your goals, even when things get tough.
  • Be positive. A positive attitude is contagious. When you're positive, it will motivate others to be positive as well.
  • Be humble. Don't be afraid to admit when you're wrong. Be willing to learn from your mistakes.
Good luck on your journey to become a strategic leader and successful in achieving your professional and organizational goals.

Strategic Planning

How often do you update your strategic plan?

Strategic planning is an important process for any organization that wants to achieve its long-term goals.

It provides a framework for making decisions about the future of the organization and ensures that everyone is aligned on the same goals.

Strategic planning is the process of defining your organization's long-term goals and objectives, and developing a plan to achieve them.

It is a systematic approach to making decisions about the future of your organization.

Here are some tips to follow in your strategic planning process:

  • Define the organization's mission, vision, and values. This is the foundation of the strategic plan. It defines what the organization is, what it wants to achieve, and what it stands for.
  • Analyze the organization's external environment. This includes understanding the competitive landscape, the customer base, and the economic and regulatory environment.
  • Analyze the organization's internal strengths and weaknesses. This includes understanding the organization's resources, capabilities, and culture.
  • Set long-term goals and objectives. These goals should be aligned with the organization's mission, vision, and values.
  • Develop strategies to achieve the goals. This includes identifying the specific actions that need to be taken to achieve the goals.
  • Implement the strategies. This includes allocating resources, assigning responsibilities, and monitoring progress.
  • Evaluate the plan and make adjustments as needed. The strategic plan should be reviewed regularly to ensure that it is still relevant and effective.

Here are some of the benefits of strategic planning:

  • It helps to clarify the organization's goals and objectives.
  • It helps to identify the organization's strengths and weaknesses.
  • It helps to develop strategies to achieve the organization's goals.
  • It helps to allocate resources effectively.
  • It helps to track progress and make adjustments as needed.

Strategic planning is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing process that should be reviewed and updated regularly. By following the steps above, you can develop a strategic plan that will help your organization achieve its long-term goals.

Here are some additional tips for strategic planning:

  • Involve key stakeholders in the planning process. This will help to ensure that the plan is aligned with the needs of the organization and that everyone is committed to its success.
  • Be realistic about the organization's capabilities. The plan should be ambitious, but it should also be achievable.
  • Be flexible and adaptable. The plan should be able to adapt to changes in the external environment.
  • Communicate the plan to the organization. This will help to ensure that everyone is aware of the plan and that they are committed to its success.

By following these suggestions, you can develop a strategic plan that will help your organization achieve its long-term goals.

Marketing Strategies for Growing Chamber Membership

We all want to grow our chamber membership numbers.

A strong membership base is a key ingredient for a strong chamber to have a presence in your community and do great things for your members.

Do you have a marketing plan in place that will help you reach your goals?

The following is a list of marketing strategy tips for growing your chamber membership:
  • Define your target audience. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing efforts? Once you know your target audience, you can tailor your messaging and outreach accordingly.
  • Create a strong value proposition. What benefits do you offer to members? Make sure your value proposition is clear and concise, and that it highlights the benefits that are most important to your target audience.
  • Use a variety of marketing channels. There is no single marketing channel that will reach everyone. Use a variety of channels, such as email marketing, social media, direct mail, and networking events, to reach your target audience.
  • Personalize your outreach. The more personalized your outreach is, the more likely you are to connect with potential members. Use their names, interests, and businesses in your messaging to show that you understand their needs.
  • Offer incentives for joining. This could include being invited to their first event on a complimentary basis, or other perks. Incentives can help to motivate potential members to join your chamber.
  • Make it easy to join. The easier it is for potential members to join, the more likely they are to do so. Make sure your membership application process is clear and concise, and that there are no hidden fees or requirements.
  • Follow up with potential members. After someone expresses interest in joining, follow up with them to answer any questions they may have and to encourage them to join.
  • Track your results. It's important to track your results so that you can see what's working and what's not. This will help you to adjust your marketing strategies as needed.
Here are some additional tips for marketing your chamber membership:
  • Highlight the benefits of membership. What are the specific benefits that members receive? Make sure these benefits are clear and concise, and that they are relevant to your target audience.
  • Tell stories about your members. Share stories about how your members have benefited from membership. These stories can be a powerful way to show potential members what they can expect from your chamber.
  • Use social media to connect with potential members. Social media is a great way to connect with potential members and share information about your chamber. Be sure to use relevant hashtags and keywords so that your content can be easily found.
  • Host events and webinars. Hosting events and webinars is a great way to connect with potential members and educate them about your chamber. These events can also be a great way to generate leads and generate interest in your chamber.
  • Partner with other organizations. Partnering with other organizations is a great way to reach a wider audience. This could include partnering with other organizations that serve your target audience.
By following these tips, you can market your chamber membership effectively and attract new members.

Culture of Innovation

A culture of innovation is a workplace environment that encourages creativity and new ideas.

It is a place where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, even if they are not fully formed.

It is also a place where employees are given the resources and support they need to turn their ideas into reality.

There are many benefits to having a culture of innovation in the workplace.

For example, it can help to:

  • Attract and retain top talent. Employees are more likely to want to work for an organization that values creativity and innovation.
  • Increase productivity and profitability. When employees are able to share their ideas and contribute to the innovation process, it can lead to new products, services, and processes that can improve the bottom line.
  • Foster a sense of community and belonging. When employees feel like they are part of a team that is working to solve problems and make a difference, it can create a sense of community and belonging.

There are many things that organizations can do to create a culture of innovation. Some of these things include:

  • Encourage risk-taking. Employees need to feel like they are safe to take risks and experiment with new ideas.
  • Provide resources and support. Employees need to have the resources and support they need to turn their ideas into reality. This includes access to funding, training, and mentors.
  • Celebrate successes. When employees are successful, it is important to celebrate their successes. This will help to encourage them to continue to innovate.
  • Create a positive work environment. A positive work environment is one where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas and taking risks. This can be created by fostering a sense of trust and respect among employees.

Creating a culture of innovation takes time and effort. However, the benefits can be significant. By following the tips above, organizations can create a workplace where creativity and innovation are encouraged and rewarded.

Here are some additional tips for creating a culture of innovation:

  • Set clear goals and expectations. Employees need to know what is expected of them in terms of innovation. This will help them to focus their efforts and make sure that they are working on projects that are aligned with the organization's goals.
  • Foster a culture of collaboration. Innovation is often the result of collaboration between different departments and teams. Encourage employees to work together to solve problems and come up with new ideas.
  • Empower employees. Employees need to feel empowered to take risks and experiment with new ideas. This means giving them the freedom to make decisions and the resources they need to succeed.
  • Measure and track innovation. It is important to measure and track innovation so that you can see what is working and what is not. This will help you to identify areas where you can improve your innovation efforts.

Go create a culture of innovation in your organization that will help you to stay ahead of the competition!

Managing Your Volunteers to Stay Productive

Managing volunteers effectively is essential for any organization, that relies on their help, to be successful.

Let's be serious, it's a major part of our job and if done right you and your organization will benefit greatly from a great collaborative working relationship.

If there's one thing I hear all the time is I can't get my volunteers to show up for anything!

Take the time to cultivate relationships with your volunteers and follow these tips to ensure that your volunteers are productive and engaged:

  • Start by defining clear expectations. What are the specific tasks that you need your volunteers to complete? What are their roles and responsibilities? Once you have a clear understanding of what you need from your volunteers, you can start to match them with the right opportunities.
  • Provide training and support. Not all volunteers will have the same skills and experience. Make sure that you provide them with the training and support they need to be successful. This could include anything from providing them with job descriptions and training materials to assigning them a mentor or supervisor.
  • Create a positive and supportive environment. Volunteers want to feel appreciated and valued. Make sure that you create a positive and supportive environment where they feel comfortable asking questions and getting help when they need it.
  • Set clear goals and deadlines. Volunteers need to know what is expected of them and when they need to have their tasks completed. Setting clear goals and deadlines will help to keep them on track and productive.
  • Provide regular feedback. Let your volunteers know how they are doing and how they can improve. This will help them to stay motivated and engaged.
  • Celebrate successes. When your volunteers achieve their goals, be sure to celebrate their successes. This will help to show them that their hard work is appreciated and that they are making a difference.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your volunteers are productive and engaged, which will ultimately benefit your organization.

Here are some additional tips for managing volunteers to stay productive:

  • Use technology to your advantage. There are a number of software programs and applications that can help you to manage your volunteers more effectively. These tools can help you to track volunteer hours, assign tasks, and communicate with volunteers.
  • Delegate tasks appropriately. Not all volunteers are created equal. Some volunteers may be more experienced or have more specialized skills than others. Be sure to delegate tasks appropriately so that everyone is challenged but not overwhelmed.
  • Be flexible. Things don't always go according to plan. Be prepared to adjust your plans as needed and be flexible with your volunteers' schedules.
  • Show appreciation. Volunteers give their time freely, so it's important to show them how much you appreciate their efforts. Thank them regularly and let them know how their work is making a difference.

You can create a positive and productive volunteer experience that will benefit both your organization and your volunteers.

Managers Who Motivate

If you're in a position to manage staff, this blog post is for you.

There have been many books written, over the years, on management styles and who are the best at managing the teams to get the most out of their teams and meet their goals.

Where do you see yourself based on the following?

This list of managers are known for their ability to motivate:

Simon Sinek - is a motivational speaker and author who is known for his TED Talk "Start with Why." Sinek believes that leaders should start with why they do what they do, and then communicate that to their employees. This helps to create a sense of purpose and motivation among employees.

Jack Welch - was the former CEO of General Electric and is known for his tough but fair management style. Welch was known for setting high expectations for his employees and then giving them the resources they needed to succeed. He also created a culture of continuous learning and improvement at GE.

Sheryl Sandberg - was the former COO of Meta Platforms and is known for her inspiring speeches about women in leadership. Sandberg believes that women need to be more assertive and confident in their careers. She also encourages women to lean in and take risks.

Vince Lombardi - was the legendary NFL coach who led the Green Bay Packers to five Super Bowl championships. Lombardi was known for his demanding but inspiring leadership style. He believed that winning was not a sometime thing, but an all-the-time thing.

These are just a few examples of managers who are known for their ability to motivate.

What makes these managers so effective is that they are able to connect with their employees on a personal level and inspire them to achieve great things

They also create a positive and supportive work environment where employees feel valued and respected.

Here are some of the qualities that these managers share:

  • They are clear about their expectations.
  • They provide regular feedback.
  • They are supportive and encouraging.
  • They celebrate successes.
  • They create a positive work environment.

If you want to be a manager who motivates, it is important to develop these qualities.

You can learn from the examples of these successful managers.

Communicating With Confidence

Communicating with confidence is an essential skill for success in both personal and professional life.

When you communicate with confidence, you are more likely to be taken seriously, be persuasive, and build strong relationships.

Here are some tips for communicating with confidence:

  • Be prepared. Before you communicate, take the time to gather your thoughts and make sure you know what you want to say. This will help you to feel more confident and in control.
  • Speak clearly and concisely. When you speak, make sure your words are clear and easy to understand. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that your audience may not understand.
  • Make eye contact. Eye contact is a powerful way to show confidence. When you make eye contact with the person you are speaking to, you are showing them that you are engaged and interested in what they have to say.
  • Use body language to your advantage. Your body language can also communicate confidence. Stand up straight, keep your shoulders back, and make eye contact. Avoid fidgeting or looking away.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic. When you communicate with confidence, you should also be positive and enthusiastic. This will help to create a positive impression on your audience.
  • Practice makes perfect. The more you practice communicating with confidence, the easier it will become. So don't be afraid to put yourself out there and start practicing!

Here are some additional tips for communicating with confidence:

  • Believe in yourself. The first step to communicating with confidence is believing in yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. So start by taking some time to think about your strengths and accomplishments. What are you good at? What have you achieved? Once you start to believe in yourself, it will be easier to communicate with confidence.
  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and move on. So don't let the fear of making a mistake hold you back from communicating with confidence.
  • Fake it until you make it. If you're not feeling confident, sometimes the best thing to do is to fake it until you make it. This means acting confident, even if you don't feel it. Over time, the more you act confident, the more confident you will become.

Communicating with confidence is a skill that takes time and practice to develop.

But by following these tips, you can start to communicate with more confidence and see the benefits in your personal and professional life.

How to Engage Your Volunteers

We're all looking for ways to engage our volunteers as we manage our organizations.

It's important to understand that your volunteers are volunteering their time (free by the way) with you and it's your responsibility to make that a great and productive experience for them and for your organization.

While I've written about volunteer management before, the following is a great list of tips that you can incorporate into your program of work.

Here are some tips you might want to think about on how to engage your volunteer leaders:

  • Understand volunteer motivation. Why do people volunteer? What are they looking for in a volunteer experience? Once you understand what motivates your volunteers, you can tailor your engagement strategies to meet their needs.
  • Use your volunteer engagement strategy to tell a story. What is the impact of your organization's work? How do volunteers make a difference? Share these stories with your volunteers to help them connect with your mission and feel like they are making a real impact.
  • Provide orientation, training, and feedback. Make sure your volunteers have the information and skills they need to be successful. Provide them with clear expectations, training, and opportunities to give feedback.
  • Be flexible. Not all volunteers are the same. Some may be able to commit to a regular schedule, while others may only be able to volunteer occasionally. Be flexible with your volunteer opportunities to accommodate everyone's needs.
  • Encourage a sense of community. Volunteers are more likely to stay engaged if they feel like they are part of a community. Create opportunities for volunteers to connect with each other, share their stories, and learn from each other.
  • Stay in touch. Don't just reach out to your volunteers when you need their help. Stay in touch with them throughout the year to let them know how their work is making a difference.
  • Show appreciation. Volunteers give their time and energy to your organization. Make sure you show them how much you appreciate their hard work. Send thank-you notes, host volunteer appreciation events, or simply take the time to say "thank you" in person.

By following these tips, you can engage your nonprofit volunteers and create a positive and rewarding volunteer experience.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Match volunteers with tasks that match their interests and skills. This will help them feel more engaged and productive.
  • Give volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills and grow. This will help them feel more challenged and fulfilled.
  • Provide volunteers with opportunities to give feedback. This will help you improve your volunteer program and make it more enjoyable for everyone.
  • Celebrate volunteer successes. This will help show volunteers that their hard work is appreciated and that they are making a difference.

Lots to think about.  Good Luck!

Enhance the Board Member Cycle

I attended a recent webinar by two IOM faculty members, Cathi Hight, Hight Performance Group and Michael Gellman, Sustainability Education 4 Nonprofits, on the title of this blog.

They focused on three cycles; enhancing the first year of board service, finding pathways for continuing board service and past presidents & chairmen can be a powerful resource (or missed opportunity).
The following are my notes on a great discussion around a board members term of service or life cycle.
Enhancing The First Year of Board Service

  • Staff needs to take the lead and set the expectations for board service.  Do you have a job description for new board members?
  • Help board members find and align their passion and capacity to serve the needs of the organization.
  • The first year sets the stage for the board members remaining time of their service.
  • Ways to get your new board members engaged: share important documents with them, introduce them to key senior staff and connect them with a former board member.  Give them the tools to be effective.
  • And finally, review their first year’s participation and set goals for them going forward.
Finding Pathways for Continuing Board Service

  • Four ways to refocus their engagement – lead as an experienced board member, choose to serve as an officer, serve an additional term or ending their service on a high note.
  • Lead – raise the bar on efforts, take an expanded leadership role, and thoughtful engagement.
  • Serve as an officer – or serve as a committee chair.  This is a great way for you to see growth in a board member and where they might end up down the road.  It’s important to determine if that board member has the capacity to serve and whether it’s a good fit or not. They had a slide that had the four attributes that Mike feels is needed to be an officer; Capacity, Fortitude, Skills and Passion.
  • Serve an additional term – as a general rule, our board members serve two-year terms, renewable for up to three times.  If it’s not a good fit, maybe it’s time to say thank you for your service to that board member that just hasn’t engaged with the program of work of the chamber.
  • Ending on a high note – be thoughtful and purposeful when working with your board members who are ending their volunteering.  This will ensure a positive experience which in turn will help you with continuity moving forward and still have the support of that retiring board member.
Past Presidents & Chairmen Can Be a Powerful Resource (or missed opportunity)

  • They have the knowledge of your organization from their experience and it’s important to keep them involved in some capacity without them overpowering the work of the current board.
  • I’ve written about this in the past, do you have a quarterly meeting with your past chairmen? They no longer have a dog in the fight and can give good counsel on programs that you might want to sunset – (think sacred cows).
  • Ambassador role – fundraising, awards committee, ribbon cuttings, etc.  What a great way to have a past chairman serve in these roles and it shows the community the importance you’ve put on this program of work.  That’s a win/win for both them and you!

For more information on Cathi Hight go HERE or for Mike Gellman go HERE.