Organizational Effectiveness: The Key to Tackling Leadership Overwhelm

Uncategorized Jan 19, 2019

Time flies when you are having fun! It is hard to believe that it is mid-January already! This is about the time that you are feeling one of two ways about your personal New Year's Resolutions. You are on track with your goals and are actually starting to see changes in your behavior...yeah for you! Or, you are already thinking about recalibrating those goals that sounded so good in 2018.

It's funny how we pay such attention to our personal goal setting activities but tend to shy away from using a New Year to look at our organization's goals. What do healthy, high performing organizations look like? What are the questions we need to be asking around effectiveness?

The first question to consider is how organizational effectiveness impacts our personal effectiveness.

This week, I presented to a group of nonprofit leaders. While talking resolutions and renewal, I heard lots of feedback about boundaries and burnout. Why? Because personal and organizational goals are connected. If we can't figure out how our organization is doing, it is hard to figure out what to focus on. Lack of focus creates all sorts of emotions like anxiety and stress in our lives as leaders.

How have you looked at effectiveness in the past? Generally, we look at effectiveness a few times a year. One is when we are setting budgets or creating strategic plans. We also do our "widget" counting when submitting grant proposals. Lots of numbers in our reporting but not much conversation about effectiveness.

So, what is the key question we should be asking? It is simple... how are we fulfilling our mission in the communities we serve? Effective organizations demonstrate results toward fulfilling mission and realizing vision. Does your organization have the Energy, Knowledge, Opportunity, Skills and Capacity to be effective?

You might also consider where your organization is in its lifecycle. Organizations are fluid and always changing. Is your organization a start up with one or two employees? Are you leading an agency that has a growth mindset? Or, are your ready to do a mission reset? Knowing where your organization is in its lifecycle is key to considering what you need to focus on.

I also recommend finding a model that allows you to systematically look at key components of effectiveness. This summer, the Community Foundation of the Lehigh Valley introduced the Mission Capital Model. The model focuses on the following components of performance:

· Clarity of Purpose

· Sustainable Business Model

· The Right Leadership

· Smart Operations

· Implementation and Improvement

· Strategic Collaborations

All six of these areas can be evaluated by generating key questions. For example, the "right leadership" component includes consideration of appropriate skill sets and training for staff, board and volunteers. Implementation and improvement requires benchmarking and environmental scanning. (For more information about each of these areas, please contact us at [email protected])

Last but not least is consideration of stakeholder engagement around effectiveness issues. Who are your stakeholders? How are you getting feedback from them about their effectiveness? Do your stakeholders include community members? Are you engaging your Board in conversations about effectiveness? What is the role of your team in looking at organizational performance?

Nonprofit management is stressful. We are constantly managing multiple demands and competing priorities. Evaluating our performance gives us data points that can inform our key priorities. It enables leaders to move from "putting out fires" to mindful planning.

As we set personal goals and resolutions for a new year, consider doing the same type of reflecting and resetting for your agency. By focusing on the right things at the right time, we serve our missions with impact. And, we serve our team and ourselves by reducing stress and increasing focus.

Interested in assessing your organization's effectiveness? Visit to claim your free worksheet entitled "60 Things to Consider Around Organizational Effectiveness"



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