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Greenville Nonprofits Learn to Lead

Leadership gives a nonprofit organization what it needs to change the world.

Nonprofit organizations want to change the world. Ask anyone who works for a nonprofit what we do and why we do it; we’ll give you some variation on that theme. Our mission may be very specific: to cure a disease or address a specific social ill. It may be lofty: to advance the common good. Regardless, we’re determined to change the world, or some small corner of it.

What gives an organization the strength and resilience to keep striving, keep improving, keep learning and keep aiming for that lofty vision of a changed world? In one word: leadership.

Leadership isn’t only the person who sits in the corner office or on top of the organization’s chart. In strong organizations, leadership is demonstrated by every staff member and volunteer. A willingness to ask questions, to listen, to collaborate, to laugh, to make a commitment and stand by it, to think long-term but also take the first step — these qualities, demonstrated throughout an organization, create a culture in which the ingredients needed for real community change can flourish.

Leadership distributed throughout the organization is a key ingredient. But culture – the way people think, act and work with each other — determines how effective leadership can be. And that determines the results the nonprofit can achieve.

Think about yogurt. As television commercials tell us, it’s the “active cultures” that turn milk into tasty, healthful yogurt. In our organizations, we want to develop and nurture an active and healthy culture, one that adds flavor, depth and value to our work.

The active ingredients of a healthy organizational culture are a visible and demonstrated connection to mission and vision, thoughtful employee and volunteer recruitment, development and retention, strong internal communication, attention to performance management, including accountability and recognition, and engaged and informed executive leadership.

As nonprofits, we know that our success hinges on a positive culture: one in which employees like their work and feel a strong sense of shared responsibility for the goals, board members are active and engaged champions for the work, and partners feel empowered and valued. How can we create or strengthen such a culture? That’s the topic that will launch the 2014 Shine the Light Leadership Academy, to be held at the Kroc Center on May 21 from 8 a.m. to noon.

Now in its fifth year, DNA Creative Communications’ Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums is a training series developed in partnership with the United Way of Greenville County, the Community Foundation of Greenville and the Hollingsworth Funds. This year’s four half-day sessions, targeted at nonprofit executive directors and board leaders, will focus on leadership. Each session will look at leadership through a different lens. Following the May 21 session, subsequent sessions will focus on high-performing board leadership (July 16), collaborative leadership (Sept. 9) and leading for sustainability (Nov. 19). Each session will include a nationally known keynote speaker and a panel of local leaders.

The keynote speaker for the first Shine the Light session is Pratichi Shah, a human resources strategist and executive with 20 years experience in all aspects of talent management, human resources and organizational development in the nonprofit and for-profit arenas. She is the founder and CEO of Flourish Talent Management Solutions (FTMS), a firm specializing in talent strategy development, strategy and culture alignment, training and organizational development and coaching for executives and emerging leaders. Prior to launching FTMS, Shah was the chief talent officer for Independent Sector, a nonprofit coalition of more than 600 member organizations that leads and mobilizes the national charitable community for the greater good.

Hundreds of organizations that form Greenville’s nonprofit and philanthropic community spend their days tackling tough issues and enhancing the quality of life for all who live here. We couldn’t do it without the unwavering support of many thousands of Greenville residents who give their time, talents and resources to the causes about which they care. Leadership development through DNA’s Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums will enhance the value of those investments and increase the chance that together we can create the Greenville County to which we all aspire.

For information about DNA’s Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums, visit www.nonprofitforums.org or call 864-235-0959.

Tish Young McCutchen is vice president of organizational planning and public affairs for the United Way of Greenville County, where she focuses on organizational development, strategic planning, staff/board/community engagement, and public policy.

Posted May 19, 2014 in: Blog, Press Releases by Debbie Nelson

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