8 Essential Skills for Nonprofit Managers

For those of you managing nonprofit organizations – we’ve been asked to develop a 5-session workshop series for our friends at ONEplace@KPL. This series is designed for entry to middle-level directors and managers in all areas of nonprofit organizations (executives, programs, services, administrations, operations, fund development, communications—anyone who supervises others). Each session will be 2.5 hours and will run on five successive Monday’s from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

Interested? You can learn more by visiting the workshop announcement and topic schedule at ONEplace.  And while you’re visiting, don’t forget to check out the rest of what Bobbe Luce, her staff, and her network are doing – it’s great stuff!

Next Time: More Communications Stories from the Trenches.

PS – watch for my upcoming interview about “The 8 Essential Skills” on Mary Jo Asmus’ outstanding blog, Leadership Solutions.

Communication Stories from the Trenches – 1

Sally could be best described as someone who “overcommunicates” – like many very clear Extraverts, she figures that more words are much better than fewer words. As a result she tends to overwhelm people on her team and they often tune her out. Even simple questions often result in ong-winded, convoluted answers, often with far more information than the other person wanted. Talk, talk, talk. The result . . . often Sally doesn’t seem to wait for the other person to finish their question before she jumps in or interrupts. Obviously, listening is not one of Sally’s strong points!

She seems to be overusing her almost certain preference for Extraversion. And like many E’s she has a bias for action so doing something is preferable to waiting, delaying, or (God forbid!) doing nothing. We do not predict great success for Sally as a manager unless she makes some changes in the way she operates, such as: 

  • Becoming aware of her own communication style and the affect it has on other people
  • Learning how to suspend her need for quick answers and action until the other person has finished making their point
  • Close her mouth and open her ears so she actually understands what the other person is saying
  • Paraphrase or check for understanding so she is clear about what the other person is talking about

Perhaps you can come up with other suggestions to help Sally. What do you think?

To order “The 8 Essential Skills for Supervisors & Managers” visit Amazon.com. For orders of 10 or more copies, contact us directly toll free: 877-643-MIDW (9476)

 

The Final Piece of Hardwiring – Talents & Strengths

 I have long been fascinated by the concept of “talents” – those innate “gifts” that people have. I used to think that talent was mostly a creative, artistic ability as in playing an instrument well and seemingly effortlessly. Van Cliburn, Yo Yo Ma, Oscar Petersen, or Ella Fitzgerald for example. Or, think of world-class athletes such as Michael Jordon, Venus and Serena Williams , Phil Mickelson, or Derek Jeter. Although we know such skill is the product of lots of hard work, there also is the element of natural talent at work in each of these examples.

It turns out that we all have talents; things that we do that produce consistent near-perfect performance in a few key areas of our life. Decades of research by the Gallup Organization revealed that each of us have these innate gifts and that turning our talents into “strengths” is possible as we acquire knowledge and experience.

The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment has become the gold standard for determining individual talents and we have made extensive use of it in working with our clients. Recent projects with teams as diverse as a group of physicans in a family medicine residency program, a team of dedicated individuals in a state government human services agency, and a staff of electronics engineers in a large truck component manufacturer have shown the value of looking at individual and team “strengths.”

The best current “take” on talents and strengths seems to be in Tom Rath’s book StrengthsFinder 2.0. Each copy of Rath’s book contains a one-time computer code for taking the assessment on the Gallup Organization’s web site. If you haven’t explored your own talents, pick up a copy from your local bookstore or order from our friends at Amazon.com. Might be a great opportunity to order a copy of my new book too!

To order “The 8 Essential Skills for Supervisors & Managers” visit Amazon.com.

What are your particular Talents?

Next Time: Skill 2 – Communicating for Results

My Hardwiring – A Case Study – Part 3

Our three major ways of receiving information from the world around us – our sense of hearing, of seeing, and our kinesthetic sense – have a major bearing on how we absorb and understand that information. And while our senses are always “on” when we’re awake, they are not equally effective at processing the information that comes our way. “Wait a minute,” you might say, “my hearing is fine, my vision is 20-20, and I easily take in information about my immediate environment.” That may all be true. But that doesn’t mean all three of those senses are equally effective. Here’s why:

Early in your brain’s growth your nervous system developed a dominant pattern for processing information, using your three primary senses. One sense is the best-developed – your “conscious” sense. One is not as well developed, but helps to support your strongest sense; let’s call that your “subconscious” sense. The third sense is significantly weaker; we call that your “unconscious” sense. While you do use all three senses to take in and process information, your dominant or conscious sense is simply more effective.

So, what does this mean for you? For me? My weakest sense is Auditory – information that is only “told” to me simply doesn’t seem to get processed effectively in my brain. What I see and experience, however, seems to make more sense and create more lasting impressions for me. Like many who are primarily Visual and Kinesthetic, seeing/reading information and writing/drawing/notetaking seems to “lock in” the information. I often take notes during meetings and the physical (kinesthetic) act of writing the note plus the visual act of seeing the information on paper tends to make the information “stick” much better, even if I don’t look at my notes ever again.

What about your information processing preferences? Which senses seem to work best for you? Which sense seems to be the least effective way to gather information?

Next Time: The final piece of hardwiring – Talents & Strengths

To order “The 8 Essential Skills for Supervisors & Managers” visit Amazon.com.

My Hardwiring – A Case Study – Part 2

As an ENFJ I have some company within the U.S. population; we make up a little more than 8% of the country and do share some common general traits. But my personality preferences are only part of what makes up my individual “hardwiring.”

   

Which Hemisphere Dominates?

We use both “sides” of our brain all the time and constantly, however the nural connections are usually more well developed on one side. That side becomes our “dominant” hemisphere and seems to get used for about 60% of our mental work. Our dominant “side” has a profound effect on the way we prefer to learn. Left-brain people seem to learn best through understanding the details, facts, and logic of an issue or situation. In school they usually prefer objective, fact-based tests. They tend to be interested in “how” something should be done. Right-brain people seem to learn best through understanding the “big picture” first and look for patterns and relationships among the facts and details. Usually their visual sense is fairly well-developed and use color, music, and drawings to anchor what they learn. Not surprisingly, Sensors are more likely to be left-brain dominant and iNtuitives like me are more likely to be right-brain dominant.

Think about yourself; perhaps you know which “side” tends to be your dominant hemisphere. Maybe you’ve never thought about it before. Then ask yourself how you can better use this part of your hardwiring to be better at the things that are really important to you. The next step in the journey.

Next time: Visual, Kinesthetic, Auditory – Dealing with Incoming Information

My Hardwiring – A Case Study – Part 1

The easiest way I can think of to illustrate the way our hardwiring influences and steers us in certain directions is to use my own hardwiring as an example. At the risk of telling you more about me than you might care to know, here goes:

Personality Preferences – I’m an Extravert – outgoing, highly verbal, and get energized by being around other people. I’m more interested in action than I am sitting and thinking deeply about events or issues. I’m interested in the “big picture” – the “why” of things a lot more than I am interested in the “how” or details of things. I pay attention to the mission, need to craft or see the vision of what we are trying to accomplish, and use my gut-feel or intuition to help me make decisions. When making those decisions I consider the impact on others, my internal value system as well as analyzing the logic and bottom-line effects. What’s best for people is going to get my nod most of the time. I prefer to plan my work and work my plan most of the time when it comes to my professional life; schedules and deadlines are helpful, and having an organized, neat environment feels comfortable. That’s not quite so important in my personal life and that seems to be increasing as I get older. From a Myers-Briggs standpoint, that makes me an Extravert, iNtuitive, Feeler, Judger (ENFJ) with some well-developed Perceiver tendencies.

For more information on the Myers-Briggs, see the website at Midwest Consulting Group.

What about your personality preferences? Care to share?

Next Time – My Hardwiring – A Case Study – Part 2

To order The 8 Essential Skills for Supervisors & Managers” visit Amazon.com.

What’s Your Hardwiring?

We all have our individual “hardwiring” – those aspects of who we are that are the product of our genetic makeup and early nurturing. In some ways we are driven to behave, react, communicate, and think as we do. Often subconsciously, and sometimes in spite of our conscious desire otherwise. Over the years some particularly valuable and practical tools have helped us better understand  ourselves. As a result, we come to understand other people better.

A combination of factors make up our hardwiring:

  • Personality  – our preferences – those in-born ways of looking at the world, what energizes us, how we make decision, and what we pay attention to. We use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to help understand Personality.
  • Hemisphere – while we use both right and left hemispheres of our brain all the time, but most of us utilize one hemisphere more than the other. Whether we are Left Brain or Right Brain dominant has a major affect on how we learn new information and skills.
  • Information Processing – our three major senses (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic) provide us with most of the information we use in life. Information we acquire through our dominent sense seems clearer and is more easily absorbed.
  • Talents & Strengths – our innate individual “gifts” – those aspects of who we are when we’re at our best. We use the Clifton StrengthFinder assessment to help people understand their talents and those of others.

Understanding yourself is an essential part of Skill 1 – Managing Yourself. What’s your hardwiring like?

Next time – My Hardwiring – a case study – Part 1

Why Skill 1 is “Managing Yourself”

Some would claim that Communication is the most important skill. Others would argue that being good at Solving Problems and Making Decisions is the most important. Still others will assert that Building Successful Relationships is more important than anything else. I believe Managing Yourself is Skill 1 – the most important and critical initial skill. And, of course, I’m about to tell you why.

The ability to effectively manage your own life is, to me, the foundational skill – all the other skills flow from this ability. Learning, developing, and practicing good self-management puts you in the position of being able to acquire the rest of the 8 Essential Skills And the opposite is also true; the supervisor or manager who is poor at managing themself is going to have a difficult time acquiring the rest of the skillset. The result is a rather ineffective, probably unsuccessful manager.

We’re not talking just about managing yourself at work. What I really mean is learning how to handle the pace and density of our modern life. Life is a combination of professional and personal tasks, projects, relationships, plans, information, and challenges. The sheer volume of information, ideas, communications, commitments, projects, and tasks tends to grow all the time. The mix changes constantly, as do priorities. And as our careers advance and our personal life progresses, the more complex the mix seems to become. Managing Yourself involves learning a set of skills, but more importantly, it involves knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what drives you as a person.

Managing Yourself starts with knowing yourself.

Next Time: What’s Your Hardwiring?

A Tweet from David Allen

The 8 Essential Skills got a nice bump from longtime friend, colleague, and client David Allen. His Tweet yesterday generated some more buzz and a batch of orders on Amazon.com. With 1.4 million people following David on Twitter, it bodes well for future sales. His Tweet follows:

Long-time friend Paul Knudstrup has a book out on mgmt & supervisory best practices. Good stuff. http://amzn.to/dqZzzB

David also provided a great testimonial when I sent him an advance copy. He said:

“The simple definition of management as the allocation of limited resources belies the incredible number of factors that contribute to doing it well. In this book Paul has done an extraordinary job of identifying those factors and providing a practical toolkit for working with them effectively. This is a terrific manual for professionals new to a supervisory role and a great refresher for those of us who’ve learned that managing others successfully is a lifelong challenge. Bravo!”

 Thank you David!

If you are not yet acquainted with David’s teachings and his Getting Things Done (GTD) approach to self-management, you owe it to yourself to  find out; we are big fans of his here at Midwest Consulting Group and MCG Press. I make frequent reference to his ideas in Skill 1 – Managing Yourself section of The 8 Essential Skills.

What do you think?

That Derailment Thing – Again

Our friends at the Center for Creative Leadership have studied the reasons behind managers derailing and crashing. It seems to come down to three things: 

They don’t successfully adapt during transitions

They are difficult to work with

They fail to lead in a team-centered way

As I look back at supervisors and managers who derail somewhere along the line, I see lots of examples of people who failed due to one, two, or occasionally all three of these reasons. How about you? Can you think of examples that stand out in your own career?