Category Archives: Adrianne Geiger DuMond

Leadership Qualities for the Crisis

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

How many of you are as sick as I am of hearing and seeing the words COVID-19.

I couldn’t even put it in this title. But it is affecting all of our lives – and each person differently. As quoted in an article I just read, “a paramedic will understand only that the hospital is overloaded, a hospital administrator will only know that the generator is not working.”[1]

I believe it is time to consider what leadership skills and qualities can best guide this situation. I will quote generously from an author, Gene Klann who has written a book on crisis management and is referenced in the article below.[2]

Klann cites 5 ways to lead and adapt to the crisis. I will briefly cover those:

  1. Seek credible information. I think this is difficult because there is so much information available. I believe it is important to check with staff and employees to see what information they are following. This is a good opportunity for leaders to calm, support and build a reassuring culture.
  2. Use appropriate communication channels. Of course transparency is of the utmost importance in a crisis. Klann has these points to stress: Information
    • reduces emotional distress caused by the unknown;
    • diminishes fear;
    • provides tactical guidance;
    • demonstrates to employees that their leaders are concerned, involved, knowledgeable, and on top of the situation.
  3. Explain what your organization is doing about the crisis. If you are in charge take charge, be proactive, take initiative. Do something even if it might be wrong. Paralysis and over analyzing may be riskier. 
  4. Be present, Visible, and Available. Let employees know how they can best reach you for status updates and any questions they may have. Flexible leadership ranks over organizational protocol and bureaucracy.                                                                                          

Dedicate organizational resources for future needs. Many organizations don’t take advantage of what they have learned after the crisis. This time is valuable to track lessons learned as a critical step to a Crisis Action Plan.                


[1][1] Gene Klann, 5 Ways to Lead and Adapt Through a Crisis, Center for Creative Leadership, March 24, 2020

[2] Gene Klann, Crisis Leadership, Using Military Lessons, Organizational Experiences, and the Power of Influence to Lessen the Impact of Chaos on the People You Lead.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Working Remotely…The Challenge To Teamwork

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

A recent study reported that 41% of non-profits hire staff/employees to work off-site.

The study is noted in an article published by Blue Avocado [1], which is actually a primer that all non-profits should read if they have people working remotely.

I will capture the essence of the primer, but really recommend studying the primer with those teams involved.

Clear roles, responsibilities, and accountability. Probably the best way to establish trust and respect is to have those involved meet long enough to review clear job responsibilities. It helps if each person understands the job duties of others, so work proceeds as expected. This also means distributing leadership effectively.

Participate in Constructive Conflict. All teams have times of disagreement or conflict. It can be harder to deal with if someone is working remotely. Handling conflict well means that team members meet, focus on the work being done and not on personal behavior or attacks. The challenge is how the disagreement affects the work output. Success is when those involved understand the challenge, resolve it, put it behind them and learn from the experience.

Consistently support one another. It isn’t always easy for a remotely working person to feel like an integral part of the team, or they may feel they are providing an extremely valuable service the team can’t appreciate – for example a data analysis expert, or fundraising staff, or marketing staff. As the article says, “Team members who adjust their work based on the needs of others are able to keep the work moving while empowering their teammates to do the best possible along the way.”

Consider team success vs. individual success. Being aware of the language team members use in emails, conversations and discussions can shape the feelings of being a team. If the “I” word is often used instead of “we”it makes a difference. This may be especially true for the remotely working member.  Another quote, “ Teams who focus more on giving credit rather than seeking it understand the exponential impact on the group as a whole.”

I strongly recommend this primer for sound guidance.


[1] blueavocado.org, Remote Team Environments: A How To Primer, Rachel Renock, May, 2019

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Performance Review for the CEO/ED

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

A performance review of the CEO/ED (Executive Director) one time a year is recommended as good governance. Yet, when I have asked some of these leaders in the past, the answer often is “ Oh, I’ve never had one” … or “I had one several years ago.”

The questions are, How can a leader grow and reach new heights without support and feedback from the Board? How can a Board really support a mission without understanding the leader’s challenges and strengths?

There are assessment tools and even resources on the Internet about this process and protocol, but I believe the simplest of discussions with everyone notified and involved produces the healthiest and most satisfactory outcomes.

• The Board chair meets with the CEO/ED to state purpose, ask about a future date, and ask if there are any items he/she would like feedback on.

• The Board chair reports to the Board the findings and sets a future date, asking that all members please attend.

In the meeting there are two (2) simple questions to answer:

1. What did the leader accomplish this year, what about effective communication with the Board, with donor and community relationships, success with leadership initiatives, and meeting the strategic goals of the nonprofit? What are his/her strengths?

2. What would the Board like to have him/her consider doing differently?

These questions should be tackled separately. That is, question 1 should be discussed by the entire Board – if small, in one group. If the Board is more than 6, then in small groups, and then each small group reports to the others. There is knowledge and information shared in this process that makes the Board a stronger team.

After there is closure to the first question, the second question is addressed in the same way.

The discussions and notes from these two sessions must be confidential and housed in the Board chair’s possession – never in the office. Feedback to the CEO/ED should convey support, appreciation, and should also touch on any development goals for the leader.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Good Leaders are Confident…But OOPS! Overconfident?

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Good leaders are confident. Their confidence inspires trust and a sense of fulfillment for the mission. But there can be a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. The Wall Street Journal recently published an excellent article about this conundrum.[1] I will address the four questions, which are very explanatory, then add the characteristics that show up in leaders who are arrogant (overconfident?).

Four questions to ask yourself: The author of the article, Sydney Finkelstein, notes four questions that allow a leader to do a self-evaluation. They are:

            • How much time do I really spend listening?

            • Do I originate most of the ideas?

            • Do I often feel like I am the smartest person in the room?

            • Do I think of myself as indispensable to my business’s success?

The article includes some findings from a random survey of workers across the US, done online, that distinguishes characteristics of ‘bad’ managers called “The Impact of Arrogance”. Many relate to being overconfident. They are:

            • Doesn’t show concern for my career and personal development.

            • Isn’t open or interested in feedback.

            • Wants to prove himself/herself right.

            • Isn’t self-aware.

            • Betrays trust.

            • Plays favorites.

            • Doesn’t listen.

Believing in yourself makes for better outcomes. But as the author says, “in management as with everything else, you really can have too much of a good thing”.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org



[1]Confident or Overconfident? Four questions to Ask Yourself” by Dr. Sydney  Finkelstein (Dartmouth College), the Wall Street Journal {C-Suite Strategies), February 25, 2019.

Performance Reviews Made Easier

Many managers dread the performance review process because of the time and preparation needed to deliver to and support their employees. BoardSource recently posted an article with practical suggestions to make the process easier.[1] The premise of the article is that more frequent, focused, and conversational discussions are more effective than the once a year variety. The author also contends that these are more efficient and timesaving.

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

The Quarterly Review: Future Outcomes

The article recommends having goal-focused reviews quarterly, keeping the focus on future outcomes. Even checking mid-quarter on progress helps. Holding positive conversations about progress makes the process far less full of tension and anxiety. Here are some questions to pursue:

  1. What has gone well in your progress toward your goals?
  2. What has blocked your progress, and what changes do you need to make?
  3. What do you plan on doing next?
  4. How can your manager help you?

As a coach, I think this model is a very good one for one important reason – it teaches all involved to think strategically. At the end of the time frame (quarterly or yearly) a team can ask:

  1. If performance went well, what can we capitalize on for next year;
  2. If the project didn’t go as planned, what changes can be made the next time, and/or what adjustments can be made.

Thinking strategically is a very important skill for being a manager. Therefore, by following this pattern, managers are also mentoring employees for more responsibility or promotion. In addition, employees receive clarity about  their manager’s expectations.


[1] 3 Ways to Lighten up Performance Management Process, Randal Vegter, NewsCred, BoardSource, February, 2019

Characteristics of a Good Leader

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

When plans don’t go as we hoped they would, or we get discouraged, we may ask ourselves what went wrong. What kind of a leader have I become? I recently read a very interesting article that provided the ten most important characteristics of a good leader. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is known for its rigorous research on leadership styles.  Their commitment to growing good leaders is unparalleled.

Based on their research – interviews with leaders from many parts of the world – CCL found a consistent core of leadership traits. They are…

            • Honesty                                • Commitment

            • Ability to delegate                • Positive attitude

            • Communication                    • Creativity

            • Sense of humor                     • Ability to inspire

            •Confidence                            • Intuition

I have already blogged about self-awareness – a good start on knowing if we possess any of these qualities. Another test might be to focus on a good leader we know and ask, “do they have these characteristics?”

May this information help your organization select and develop strong and authentic leaders.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Organizational Changes Require Good “Facilitation Skills”

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

When organizations go through change, good leadership skills are necessary to withstand the uncertainty. A leader with good facilitation skills can assure a smooth transition and support transparency. The skills are required for good collaboration and consensus building. A significant skill to this learning is the ability to ask good questions, which fosters meaningful group discussion. Involving the whole group provides authenticity to the discussion and helps the group think through difficult issues.

How it might work: The CEO has announced some major changes in policy or operations, and you are about to meet with your staff to clarify the changes. You are interested in modeling for them the way in which they may take their teams through the same process. You want to prepare all levels of management to explain and communicate the message. Here are some questions to help the process:

What are your questions or concerns about the changes? Your goal is here is to let the staff know that you are open to their input and are willing to listen. You might even choose to take notes so you can follow up later, or brief the CEO. Be sure to emphasize that all comments and information are confidential to only those in the room. This needs to be emphasized early on.

Who on your team will be the most affected by the changes? It is important for staff to clearly think through how the changes will affect all employees. This is your chance to help them realize the impact of change and personalize the resolution. You can assure them of your support and that of the organization’s.

Can anyone share with us how they plan to meet with their team for this? An open discussion about methods and strategies helps others to formulate their plans – providing learning for those more hesitant or less skilled. It is important to give affected people as many options and as much participation as possible.

What else can I do to make your challenges easier? It’s important for a leader to demonstrate humility and accountability, and not just authority in helping employees adapt and accept the resolutions to the changes. Patience and support are key leadership skills here – longer than one might feel is reasonable. We do not all change at the same pace. Keeping a positive attitude and being accessible also helps.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Self Awareness: Major Component of Good Leadership

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is an internationally respected management development business that has groomed executives and senior managers in leadership for over 50 years. Self-awareness is a major thrust of their week- long program. Executives spend ½ day being privately coached about the 360 degree feedback surveys, sent back home to peers, staff, and employees for their input.

CCL recently published a newsletter that encourages self-awareness and I will briefly summarize their key points.[1] The newsletter points out that often leaders are ‘out-facing’, meaning they are communicating with or influencing others. Learning and self-awareness seem to fall away in importance.

The four pathways to self-awareness are:

  • Leadership Wisdom: These are experiences you have had that can be applied to challenges of the future, taking time to reflect, what worked well, what did not.
  • Leadership Identity: This is who you are and how others see you in your personal and professional context. Some of this is a given – sex, age, race, ethnicity, height. The next identity is your status, or characteristics you control – occupation, political affiliation, hobbies, etc. But then, what about your inner core of values, beliefs, behaviors. Although these latter ones may vary over time, they still remain a significant part of your identity. Knowing your leadership identity may help bridge any gap you may have with those who think differently from you.
  • Leadership Reputation: This is how others perceive you as a leader. This was the information provided to the executives attending CCL in their 360 degrees feedback. Assessments are powerful tools for helping a leader understand their strengths and limitations. They are available through the Executive Coaches of Orange County.
  • Leadership Brand: This is the kind of leader you aspire to be, and the time and thought you choose to give to it.

I am biased in favor of the methods which CCL uses, since I worked for 10 years as adjunct faculty, interpreting the 360 degree feedback reports and know how helpful it was for the participants who took advantage of the opportunity. I urge you to read the article below.

[1] Four Surefire Ways to Boost Self-Awareness, Leading Effectively Newsletter, the Center for Creative Leadership, August 29, 2018

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Future Nonprofit Challenges: Stifling Innovation

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

The United Way recently released a survey of nonprofits, identifying the issues facing nonprofits. I will list some of them, and then describe some behaviors that we, as leaders and managers, subconsciously do to sabotage innovation.[1]

Issues Facing Nonprofits:

  • Difficulty to change and be flexible;
  • Looking and thinking beyond what they have walking though the door every day
  • Being sustainable;
  • Lack of collaborative spirit; Many only see and value what they do;
  • Collaborate in short term because it seems convenient;
  • Flexibility, ability to adapt to policy changes;
  • Personnel turnover;
  • Clear succession planning.

 

Behaviors that Stifle Innovation

  • Not evaluating a creative idea thoroughly: don’t commit the necessary resources or systems;
  • Confining innovation to R & D;
  • Forcing structure and hierarchy;
  • Pushing a top-down approach;
  • Criticizing first; not praising the effort to be creative;
  • Rejecting ambiguity
  • Acting like a know-it-all.

Innovation surrounds us, even when we choose not to acknowledge it. Innovation supports the precept that leaders must be “transformational” (comfortable with change) rather than “transactional” ( conducting business as usual). I have a distinguished coach colleague, Ernest Stambouly, a high-technology expert who has written extensively about ongoing rapid change in technology, and what it means for nonprofits and social enterprises – now and for the future. In his blog “Modern Technologies Hold a Promising Outlook for the Nonprofit”, he shares how innovation will no longer be confined to corporate R&D but will be the power tool for the transformational leader in the nonprofit. I encourage you to read it at http://ecofoc.org/category/by-author/ernest-stambouly/.

 

[1] 9 Ways Leaders Subconsciously Sabotage Innovation, the Center for Creative Leadership newsletter, July 31, 2018

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Can Nonprofits Meet the Challenge of Social Change?

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

 

 

There is a movement afoot that supports “collective impact” by nonprofits. That is, for agencies serving similar (or the same) target populations, they should consider collaborative planning and actions with government, funders, and foundations, to better maximize resources. With trends that predict less government funding and an exponential need for services, proponents of this movement tend to minimize the effectiveness of individual organizations tackling a major social problem.

Perhaps the best example of this approach is the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force that unites the various services that respond to this need. There is law enforcement, rescuing agencies, housing agencies that all must play an important role in fulfilling the mission. I have written in a past article of the changing nature of governance in nonprofits because of similar opinions about how social change needs can be more effectively handled. And there are other national sources who are expanding on this theme.

There is UCLA and the Center for Civil society that has collaborated with consultants to espouse the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative. The Stanford Social Innovation Review has an article and movement titled “Collective Impact” which I highly recommend for any agency thinking about the shift.

The thesis for Collective Impact is that ‘large scale social change comes from better cross-coordination rather than from the isolated intervention of individual organizations.’ The article states five conditions of collective success:

  • Common agenda – a shared vision of change.
  • Shared measurement systems – claiming web-based technologies have enabled common systems for reporting performance and for measuring outcomes.
  • Mutually reinforcing activities – participants undertake activities for which they are best trained and accountable, but that support and coordinate with the actions of others.
  • Continuous communication
  • Backbone Support Organization – a separate organization and staff with a specific set of skills that provides the infrastructure that is required for the     collaboration to succeed.

I encourage you to be aware of these changing trends even if your organization is thriving. I believe that this knowledge should be part of a strategic planning process to help participants know the reality of what is in the nonprofit universe of thinking.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org