Welcome 2021! As I concluded teaching a graduate class on non-profit leadership in December, I asked students to simply share what they had learned with me on a page. Not for a grade but the opportunity for me to learn what resonated with them, perhaps what stuck, and certainly what was most useful. In response, one student, Alexis Parsons, created five leadership nuggets. With her permission, I’m sharing her nuggets. Her work is my leadership gift to you as we start the year.
NUGGET #1 DEFINE SUCCESS
Success cannot be defined in the same way for every organization or business. To understand whether your ventures have been successful, you need to figure out what your definition of success is. Is it more widespread community knowledge and understanding of your mission? Is it more revenue flowing into your business? Is it a harmonious work environment? Whatever it is, you need to make sure you are measuring how successful your endeavor is.
NUGGET #2 WHEN PEOPLE DO THINGS RIGHT….TELL THEM
It is so important to give people positive feedback. This is not to say that important issues should not be addressed, however, if feedback is negative all the time, it gives a sense of hopelessness to the people you work with. If someone does something well or right, let them know about it. Tell them what a great job they did! Let them know how much their work was appreciated. Acknowledging the good work that people do make them feel valued and the good work is much more likely to continue.
NUGGET #3 BE A CONNECTOR, NOT A CLIMBER
Climbers think of things vertically, including who is above and below them. Connectors think of things horizontally, including how they can best work with the people around them. Climbers focus on their position. Connectors focus on their relationships. Climbers value competition while connectors value cooperation. Climbers seek power and will do whatever it takes to be seen as important and valuable. Connectors seek partnerships and know that their best work is done when they are working in harmony with those around them.
NUGGET #4 FIGURE OUT WHAT PEOPLES’ STRENGTHS ARE AND ALLOW THEM TO USE THEM
Strengths Finder 2.0 helped us figure out what our personal strengths were and let us know how we could use them to find success. If a leader takes the time to get to know the strengths of people on his team, he/she can assign tasks based upon what people are good at, instead of just blindly giving people work to do. This not only creates a better product in the end but also a better, more productive work environment.
NUGGET #5 CARE ABOUT PEOPLE
All of the people you work with throughout your life are human beings with real feelings and issues. You might not have the most in common with every single person you work with, but if you genuinely make an effort to treat every person with respect, understanding, and dignity, you can’t go wrong. Everyone wants to stay in a job where they feel valued and heard.