People Matter: Part 2

Doug Watson, Director of Member Services at Propellus, has created a six part series entitled PEOPLE MATTER. In part 1, he discussed effective non-profit Leadership. If you missed Part 1, Click Here.

Have you ever wondered what a leader does? You’ve read the books, you even took a course or two at a wonderful college or university.  Today things changed though . . . you were promoted and now actually have people reporting their work to you!  Leadership just took on a whole new meaning because someone is looking to you to make a decision once in a while. 

Resist the decision making urge! Don’t do it! George Bush said it worst when on April 18, 2006 he said “I’m the decider, and I decide what is best.” Leaders engage employees then enable and empower their colleagues unlike the previous statement.

Before we unpack that note first that these people are your colleagues and have chosen, like you, to participate in the team and therefore have a choice to retract their participation. Treating people with respect is a main tenant of our core value of Empowerment. So then, what does it look like to engage employees?

Communicate Direction  
This is not doing the deep dive into the specifics of the role.  Instead we are talking about reminding your colleagues of the through line between their work and the vision and mission of the organization.  It is so important here to not remove a person’s desire for autonomy.

Daniel Pink, in his book Drive, reminds us of every person’s need for autonomy in their work.  If you aren’t a reader, you can always  take 11 minutes and watch this video.

Listen to Concerns 
Not everything that everyone in your organization has thought of is perfect – in fact often any new idea or existing project has issues.  It is important to stop and listen to how decisions and affect the people you work closest with. Remember that staff concerns are opportunities to find out how things are going to affect the people you serve.

A leader must always ensure there is a positive path in front of the team, otherwise what is the point of choosing to continue to participate on that team?

Solicit Ideas
Pink’s research suggests the same when he describes our need for mastery.  Mastery is practicing your craft so that you can become an expert in your area.  If your ideas are not sought out by your leader then how will you have the opportunity to shape your position to create mastery?  Remember too that not everyone is like you, so willing to offer your thoughts and opinions.  The responsibility is yours to solicit; ask for – seek – try to obtain – request – call for – press for; IDEAS!

Gain Commitment
And finally to engage employees requires you to gain commitment,  this can never be coercive, it can never be demanding; if you’ve followed these steps in your regular interactions with the team gaining commitment will naturally follow. Pink is quick to remind us that ‘purpose’ is the final thing that motivates us.  If we find purpose in our roles then it will lead to commitment.

If you have just had the good fortune of being asked to lead a team and you are looking for more support in this new position be sure to check out our training opportunities.

Or (and this is what I would do) just call us and we would be happy to visit you and have a chat about the best way to support you!  Feel free to email anyone on the member services team starting with Doug Watson – Director, Member Services –

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