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Kelly Segal Consulting

Don’t Go It Alone–Lean On Your Leadership

Now that we’re settling in to business in the time of Covid, organizations are reinventing their programming. They’re focused on being safely accessible, and rethinking ways to communicate their missions without in-person events. I see teams of talented professionals spending hours on Zoom brainstorming ways to show their offerings, and strategies to involve their community virtually over the coming year. 

And here’s a pattern I’ve noticed: these professionals take the best ideas from their team brainstorming, and then work hard to sell those ideas to their boards and committees. Professionals are eager to show those most deeply invested that they are evolving with the situation, innovating to meet the challenge, and that they are earning donor support regardless of limitations set by external factors (Hello, Covid!). 

Here’s the problem: by trying to impress with proactive thinking, this process actually excludes the organization’s most valuable resource: the leadership. 

Much of the reason we recruit particular individuals for board and committee positions is for their talent and perspective. We not only rely on board and committee members to do things like uphold bylaws, and safeguard fiscal health; we actually need their ideas and their input, as they serve as the litmus for how initiatives will fare once rolled out to the greater community.

I’m not suggesting you gather your leadership and present a blank page where a plan should be, but, as a professional, instead of selling your ideas try this:

      1. Work internally with your team to identify an opportunity for a more significant program/initiative that will serve an important purpose moving your organization’s mission forward over the next year
      2. Outline a series of questions/concerns/programmatic holes for feedback and/or help
      3. Bring together a small group of people who are creative thinkers, invested in the mission and vision of the organization, and willing to help
      4. Arrange a “design session” where you facilitate discussion, get feedback, brainstorm solutions
      5. Ask participants to serve as “hosts” by putting their name on publicity materials, participating in recruitment, and attending program

Committees are just as important now as they were when organizational activities were “in person”—in fact, finding and galvanizing committee participants might actually be easier since many scheduling challenges have been removed. Additionally, the current climate allows for fewer engagement opportunities, so this is a good involvement opportunity for leadership. 

Virtual committees not only result in better programs and increased attendance, but we all know that involvement leads to investment—crucial especially after the impact of the last few months.