Leadership & Team Development Case Study
This client had left one nonprofit organization to become executive director of another. I began working with her in coaching sessions by phone twice a month, with email and short calls in between. She had director-level experience, and her instincts and people skills were excellent, but never having led an organization, she lacked some essential knowledge and skills.
The organization my client now led was struggling. Funding was a challenge, and over the years it had undertaken more initiatives than it could sustain. Communications, expectations and accountability were also a challenge. Employees were distributed across the country and the board of directors had no clearly defined participation in strategy development.
REGULAR & OPEN COMMUNICATION
In a coaching session, it also became clear that the organization’s current scope of operations wasn’t sustainable. Together, we began the process of examining ways to trim costs. Coaching helped shape this new leader’s process, grounding her assessments and priorities in the organization’s core strengths, mission and competencies.
One of the biggest challenges new leaders face is recognizing when it’s appropriate to share information and solicit input. Together we implemented a protocol for sharing information with the board — an initiative designed to build trust with that group — and identifying which issues were appropriate for staff input and/or merited shared decision-making with the board.
Because this new executive director had excellent instincts, coaching sessions lead to quick and significant changes:
- A new approach to internal communications kept employees across the country informed and allowed them to refocus on their responsibilities
- Increased transparency about the challenges ahead helped solidify the staff and earn employee trust.
- Prioritized cost saving measures, including closing a satellite office, and saved organization thousands of dollars annually.
- Complex choices were clarified to better engage the board and begin to clearly define their role.
- A decision-making platform involved the board and staff in re-examining the organization's mission together to ensure that resources were properly aligned.
- A new leader gained the skills, systems and confidence to successfully navigate one challenge after another, adding to her considerable natural strengths.