A Little Non-Profit Business

Many of you may not know, but I am the executive director of a small non-profit. I came on board when a friend asked me to consider taking the helm of the organization. I believe in their cause, and the hours and flexibility are wonderful. Plus, with all different kinds of personalities and ideas that I’ve experienced through running the Board of Directors (and putting on an annual conference); it’s been a tremendous opportunity to lead and grow.

Since my background is relationships, I’ve had to use my skills to handle personality issues, morale boosting, being a leader and professional, and maintaining that professionalism and vision as I continue to guide the ship that is our non-profit.

Like any relationship, when there’s more than one person in an interaction, there can be a difference of opinion. And that’s a great thing! Having new ideas and fresh perspectives is wonderful! As a result of differences, what can happen is that a conflict arises due to a difference in opinion. It’s then that I take a step back for a second and observe what’s going on for people. Who might be having a bad day? Who doesn’t handle feedback well? Who triangulates? Who fades into the background?

The group is highly intelligent, yet they vary in their emotional intelligence. For example, if there is a disagreement amongst the members, some are respectful and thoughtful about articulating their perspective. Some handle the tension (the disagreement can bring on stress in the system- the Board in this case) in a dysfunctional way. They may hang up on a call, “go off” on someone, or isolate another member to talk badly about someone else. It is so much like being in a family!

We’ve recently added some new members to the Board and it’s been fascinating to see how they can change the dynamic of the group. And, I’ve recognized that although there are formal bylaws in place, there are no procedural measures in place at the moment that really address what I call “proper Board decorum.” This is how members should treat one another in and out of meetings, as a team working together for the sake of our mission and vision.

I’ve learned through leading this group these last 5 years that it isn’t necessarily the business skills that help you succeed or your intelligence or your luck. It also takes emotional intelligence and relationship skills– those intangibles that show up everywhere in life. When you learn how to have a healthy, functioning, loving relationships in your own home and bring that outward to the world- that’s a gift! It starts with you and how you value yourself, and your partner and how you value them and the relationship, with your family, friends…Then you bring those relational skills into the workplace. 

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