Coaching Nonprofit And Charity Leaders Transcript


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Non-profit and charity leaders often are hailed for the altruistic deeds and missions of their organizations, most of which are largely central to the health and well-being of society.

However, with a continual reliance on fundraising, volunteers or public policy, non-profit leaders face a unique kind of pressure and stress, one where the line between personal and professional lives can more easily get blurred, often leading to burnout and high turnover.

How can coaching help non-profit/charity leaders succeed both professionally and personally?

What are the differences and similarities to coaching a non-profit leader versus a CEO, and what lessons can be learned from the private and public sectors?


* Bill Bothwell, Partner, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

* Kathleen Enright, Founding Executive Director, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

* Martha Lasley, Founding Partner, Leadership That Works

* Don Listwin, Founder and Chairman, Canary Foundation


According to Giving USA 2005, an annual report focused on the non profit sector, charitable giving rose 5 percent to nearly $250 billion in 2004.

However, some reports including The Charitable Impulse, indicate that typical donors haven’t been receptive to some non profit organizations starting to act like big businesses, and additional data from sources like the January 2006 Harris Interactive Donor Pulse Survey highlight that one-third of U.S. adults have less than positive feelings toward America’s charitable organizations.

What are the challenges facing today’s non profit leaders, and how are these trends impacting them?

Our panel of experts address these questions, and discuss how coaches who work in the non profit sector have been able to help.

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Coaching Nonprofit And Charity Leaders Transcript

  1. 1. Insight on Coaching Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript Prepared for: Prepared by: Insight Educational Consulting Ubiqus Reporting (IEC)
  2. 2. Time Speaker Transcript 00:28 Tom Floyd Hello everyone and welcome to Insight on Coaching. Insight on Coaching explores the many facets, flavors and sides of the emerging professional coaching field. I’m Tom Floyd, I’m the CEO of Insight Educational Consulting and your host for today’s show. This week our topic is Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders. We’ll provide an overview of some of the success and challenges faces the nonprofit world today. We’ll talk about the challenges and issues that executive directors and other nonprofit leaders face in their roles. And most importantly, we’ll focus on how coaches are providing value to nonprofit organizations, helping leaders navigate everything from grant writing to working with the board. With me to explore this topic are four guests today and let me give you a quick overview of who we have with us. Our first guest, Bill Bothwell, is a partner in the Public Finance Department at the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. In his practice of law, Bill has counseled numerous non-profit organizations in obtaining financing for their facilities. Bill is also head of the non-profit board at Orrick and also sits on the Board of Shambhala Mountain Center, a contemplative educational and cultural nonprofit located in Colorado, and has had first hand experience of the great rewards and pressures of trying to fulfill a non-profit’s mission with limited resources. Welcome to the show, Bill. 01:42 Bill Bothwell Thank you, Tom. 2 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 2 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  3. 3. Time Speaker Transcript 01:43 Tom Floyd Our second guest, Kathleen Enright, is the founding Executive Director of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) in Washington, D.C., a community of more than 300 funders working to maximize philanthropy's impact by advancing the effectiveness of grantmakers and their grantees. Kathleen also serves on the board of Fieldstone Alliance, the advisory board of The Center for Effective Philanthropy and Independent Sector’s Building Value Together Committee. Her list of publications include: Investing in Leadership: Inspiration and Ideas from Philanthropy's Latest Frontier and Funding Effectiveness: Lessons in Building Nonprofit Capacity Welcome to the show, Kathleen. 02:20 Kathleen It’s a pleasure to be here. Enright 02:21 Tom Floyd It’s a pleasure to have you. Our next guest, Martha Lasley, is a founding partner and Director of Training at Leadership That Works, a firm that offers facilitation, coaching and training for visionaries. Martha creates dynamic leadership development programs for personal and organizational transformation. As part of the Kellogg Foundation’s Coaching and Philanthropy research, she has interviewed leading coaches on the efficacy of coaching in nonprofits. She is the author of Courageous Visions: How to Unleash Passionate Energy in Your Life and Your Organization.. Welcome to the show, Martha. 02:53 Martha Lasley Hello. Thank you, Tom. I’m glad to be here. 3 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 3 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  4. 4. Time Speaker Transcript 02:55 Tom Floyd And our fourth guest, Don Listwin, is founder and chairman of the Canary Foundation, the nation's only non-profit organization devoted exclusively to early detection of cancer. A 25-year veteran of the technology industry including acting as CEO of Openwave and the #2 executive at Cisco Systems, Listwin walked away from a high-profile career and launched Canary. Don also serves on the Board of Directors of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), Sana Security, Geneologics Life Sciences Software, Calix, Stratos Biosciences and the Listwin Family Foundation. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Welcome to the show, Don. 03:34 Don Listwin Thank you. 4 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 4 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  5. 5. Time Speaker Transcript 03:36 Tom Floyd Well I want to start the stage, as we usually do, by sharing some data that our research team pulled together. I’d like to start by sharing some highlights from Giving USA 2005, an annual report, which shares highlights based on data from 2004. According to the report: Charitable giving rose 5 percent to nearly $250 Billion in 2004. Individual giving, the single largest source, rose by an estimated 4.1 percent in 2004 to reach $187.92 billion. In another report titled “The Charitable Impulse”, which was done by the non partisan research group, Public Agenda in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation and with Independent Sector, some interesting themes came up in terms of what the average donor/volunteer thinks of nonprofits in general and how those views are similar or dissimilar to people who work in or lead the nonprofit sector. Some highlights from that report: While nonprofit professionals are embroiled in issues of oversight, government regulation, and impressing big donors, ordinary folks give locally and from the heart. Typical donors do not like it when nonprofits start acting like big businesses. They are very annoyed by slick marketing and sales techniques, glossy brochures, telephone solicitations and high-pressure appeals. Based on respondent’s negative reaction to sensitive topics like scandal and marketing, the report concluded that nonprofits must be honest and forthcoming in all their activities, avoid scandal like the plague, and ditch the glossy brochures, telephone solicitations, and high-pressure appeals. They don't work and only raise suspicion. One last piece of information from the January 2006 Harris Interactive Donor Pulse Survey: One-third of U.S. adults (32%) have less than positive feelings toward America's charitable organizations. The same number, one-third, thinks that the nonprofit sector in America has pretty seriously gotten off in the wrong direction. Only one in 10 strongly agrees that charitable organizations are honest and ethical in their use of donated funds. Now Kathleen, I’d like to turn to you first. Can you set the stage for us from a big picture perspective? How is some of this data landing on you? 5 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 5 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  6. 6. Time Speaker Transcript 06:04 Kathleen Well of course these are all studies that I’ve read before and they’re useful data Enright. points for those of us who have spent our careers in the nonprofit sector to consider. I would actually like to add one additional data point that I think is quite a valuable one. A research named Paul White from Brookings did a state of the nonprofit sector workforce study a couple of years ago which included surveys and telephone interviews of a broad swath of those folks who work in the nonprofit sector and it was compared to Gallup polls of both the public sector and corporate sectors. And basically the nonprofit sector has one of the most motivated and strong workforces in the nation even though they’re working in really tough circumstances and doing incredibly difficult jobs. The perception issues that you talked about, the reasons for giving, the up kick in financial support for the nonprofit sector are all contexts. They are all part of the system and the context in which nonprofit leaders do these very difficult jobs and one of the things that I think makes a strong case for why we’re having this conversation about coaching and leadership support. These folks need additional support to be able to do these very difficult jobs even more effectively. 07:45 Tom Floyd What are some of the reasons, and I’m assuming the very good reasons – it was positive for me to see that overall charitable giving and things like that being in the rise. What are some of the reasons that have caused that increase, that have really made people personally feel like, “hey, I want to give more to some of the organizations that are out there?” 6 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 6 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  7. 7. Time Speaker Transcript 08:02 Kathleen Well wealth is on the rise as well. Enright So the rise in charitable giving is probably more closely tied to the rise in personal wealth in the U.S. than just about anything else. Many people in the U.S. and around the globe who have made success in their professional lives feel a sense of responsibility to give back. And much giving happens in a very personal connected way to alma maters, to churches and to organizations that are highly significant in the individual donor’s life. At the same time, charitable giving would likely increase if that number about the confidence in the nonprofit sector’s ability to use the dollars well would go up. That is one of the many reasons that Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is focused on building strong and effective nonprofits so that they can lead the kinds of social and community changes that we’re looking for in really productive and efficient ways. 09:18 Tom Floyd What were some of your thoughts when people said things that indicated they had – some people at least – have less than positive feelings towards some of the charitable organizations that are out there? 09:30 Kathleen It’s such an education challenge. Enright The public perception is very much shaped by the media. The good feeling stories are less reported upon and provide less of a news hook than those about scandal. Statistically, stories of embezzlement, stories where funds are misallocated are in the extreme minority but they are in the extreme majority in terms of what is reported upon in the mainstream media. 10:12 Tom Floyd Now Don, I’d like to turn to you next. What was your reaction to some donors from the survey indicating that they didn’t necessarily like it when nonprofits started acting like big businesses? 7 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 7 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  8. 8. Time Speaker Transcript 10:27 Don Listwin I guess my reaction is that actually nonprofits have to act more like businesses. And coming from the business world for 25 years and then becoming a nonprofit leader, I really feel like there’s the sense of responsibility and accountability that people are after. Now, I agree that people don’t want to see their money wasted. They don’t need the glossy brochure to be able to be convinced that what they’re doing or the nonprofit’s doing is important. But there’s a lot of things to be learned from the business community and I think that’s where coaching has to go for a number of these people. Helping them understand that setting goals every 90 days in important and being accountable back to the people who give the money. For instance, at the Canary Foundation we have quarterly goals and annual goals and we report them out to our investors the way we think of them and give them feedback that we’re achieving the goals or not achieving the goals. I think a lot of people feel like that money goes in and nothing ever comes out. I guess that’s sort of my feeling in that just sort of three years into being a founding executive director myself and then being on several nonprofit boards. Bringing some more of the discipline of accountability from business without the big spending from business is probably a really good addition to the nonprofit sector. 11:51 Tom Floyd And based on your experience leading Cisco and then going out into the nonprofit world, what were some of the primary differences that you’ve found so far working in nonprofit versus Corporate America? 12:04 Don Listwin I mean certainly if you think about the product, I mean the good news is you always get the belief in the product on the nonprofit side because it’s something that’s likely touched your life or you’re really invested in and therefore you don’t ever have to sell a bad product. I’d say that’s one of the things that is very different. But some of the things that are similar and that I find is one of the things nonprofits – and I think I try to help people understand is getting a really good board and helping you understand what the role of the board is at any one time is really important. In business sometimes you have – you’re going to go on an acquisition spree and you may not have the right people on the board. Similarly on nonprofits, you know may be trying to go on a big capital campaign and don’t have people that can help you give or get. So there are a lot of lessons that I think more so that are transferable over, but I’d say the summary point you are always passionate about your product because it’s where your heart is as opposed to something that an organization’s come up with. 8 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 8 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  9. 9. Time Speaker Transcript 13:10 Tom Floyd Got it. Bill, can you talk to us a little bit about the legal side of the nonprofit world? Some of the data from the Harris Interactive Donor Poll Survey indicated that one- third of respondents felt that some nonprofits have gotten off in the wrong direction. Have there been any high-profile or big scandals or anything like that that have set some of their thoughts around that? 13:35 Bill Bothwell Well I’m sure that there are but I mean it’s basically just public information and I don’t really have any further insight into that. I mean obviously a nonprofit; its success is dependent upon the trustworthiness of the people who are operating it and if they’re going to be crooks in the nonprofit system, then that’s going to tarnish the image of all nonprofits. I would like to respond also to this notion of the business world and its sort of management skills being brought into the nonprofit sector. One of the things that we’ve experienced at Shambhala Mountain Center is during a period in which we were growing rapidly, we had a big capital campaign and we actually did some tax exempt financing. We got ourselves into a situation where the feeling of the management was that we had to actually operate more like a business and act more like a sort of resort and spa, pushing the staff members, and management as well, as hard as we possibly could in order to get the number of bed nights up generate revenues and so forth. And the sort of management style and ethnic was something we talked a lot about at board meetings only to discover that it created a tremendous amount of tension and strife in the community at Shambhala Mountain Center, which is actually a sort of residential community of 50 full-time people and 120 seasonal people and there’s a community there. And as we discovered in this sort of five-year period, the community really – the creation of that community and the sort of upliftedness of that community and the success of that community is almost a central core feature of our mission. And when we moved into this business model and obviously I’m not rejecting the business model altogether, but when bed nights became supreme it really undercut our ability to function altogether. And we had an interesting transition in management and an interesting use of coaching, which I actually just found out about recently in making that transition. 9 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 9 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  10. 10. Time Speaker Transcript 15:51 Don Listwin Tom, this is Don. I mean just to sort of add, I guess the one thing from business that you can really mess up here is growth for growth’s sake. Sometimes you could say that what your role is in a community is trying to do something or is to show a particular way forward and get other people to adopt. So that’s one of the negative things I think that can come from business, as you just said, that everyone’s got numbers and we want to grow them and we sort of lose track with what our mission is. 16:19 Kathleen This is Kathleen. I’d love to add on to that as well. Enright Jim Collins did this nice little monograph based on his Good to Great book and it was called Good to Great for the Social Sector and I think he said it best when he was talking about the fact that this mantra of being more like business is unhelpful because most businesses are mediocre and all great organizations, be they for-profit, nonprofit, public, should just strive to be great. And that loses some of the unhelpful, untranslatable things associated with being more like a business and gains the productive, helpful pieces that are associated with being a higher performing organization. 17:14 Tom Floyd Martha, any thoughts that you would add? 10 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 10 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  11. 11. Time Speaker Transcript 17:17 Martha Lasley Yes. I think that I’m interested in this whole topic of leadership because I think a lot of people just in general see that the real leaders are in business. And they act like the people in nonprofits are tarnished in some way, that they don’t have the skill set or the accountability structures or the finances or the resources to become true leaders. But in my work, I really see that the true leaders are working in nonprofits. Those are the people that are doing the really tough work of ending things like racism or sexism or poverty. And I think that anyone can put products on the shelf. I think it’s a far more difficult task that our nonprofit leaders are up against. And it’s one of the reasons why I think that coaching is so valuable to them is because they’re often left out in the cold in terms of first they don’t want to invest in themselves because they’re mission is so important that all their money goes into serving clients. And the second is there’s often a scarcity mentality and a real struggle to get funding and the emphasis is there versus really investing in their own and their team’s leadership development. And that’s where I see the real shift and the trend changing is that nonprofits know they need to develop their people, that there aren’t enough leaders available to them without doing the development phase. And so that’s a change that I am really enjoying seeing as I see people coming together and developing peer mentoring relationships, coaching that goes across the organization, 360-degree coaching where you can coach your boss, your peers, your direct reports and the board is often involved too. So that’s exciting to me to see some of the shifts happening in terms of where the investment money goes and the importance of developing leaders in nonprofits. 19:14 Tom Floyd So it sounds like some of the concepts from the business world are starting to seep into the nonprofit world a bit as well. 19:20 Martha Lasley In many ways the nonprofit world is ahead of the business world in terms of the heart that they bring to the work. 19:27 Tom Floyd Well let’s go ahead and go on pause. I’m starting to hear the music for our first commercial break. Stay tuned everyone. More from Insight on Coaching when we return. 11 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 11 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  12. 12. Time Speaker Transcript 23:50 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching, I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders. With me are Bill Bothwell, attorney and head of the nonprofit board at Orrick, Harrington & Sutcliffe LLP., Kathleen Enright, Executive Director of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Martha Lasley, Director of Training, Leadership that Works and Don Listwin, Founder of the Canary Foundation. In this segment of the show I’d like to focus on the challenges that leaders within nonprofit and charity organization faces. Some more data to set the stage to kick us off. According to Grantmakers for Effective Organizations: When talking with grantmakers across the country about what they are doing to develop nonprofit leaders, a common theme in these conversations is the “aha moment” – that time when grantmakers recognize that everything they were about, everything they intended to achieve in their grantmaking, depended on nonprofit leadership. According to the October 4th, 2007 issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy “At a time when growing numbers of nonprofit leaders are leaving their organizations, many of them frustrated with the pressures of fund raising and other aspects of running charities, grant makers hope that coaching will keep such executives from burning out and quitting.” Kathleen, I’d like to turn to you first. From you perspective, just in general, what challenges do nonprofit or charity leaders typically face in their roles? 12 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 12 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  13. 13. Time Speaker Transcript 25:11 Kathleen There are two sets of challenges actually. Enright I’d first like to back up and look at the landscape in which these leaders are operating. There are some structural barriers that are outside of their individual control but still have a large impact on their ability to be successful. One of those is the absolute girth of unrestricted dollars. Most grants, be they from individuals or foundations or the government, come with a set of restrictions. And so one of the ways that as you’re thinking about leadership development you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to fund. And if you don’t have flexible dollars that makes it very difficult. A second sort of structural barrier that’s at play in these organizations is that they’re just too small to grow their own next set of leaders coming up within the institution. The typical nonprofit has a budget of less than a million dollars, fewer than 15 staff. So they don’t have sophisticated HR functions. And they don’t necessarily have access to the kinds of resources other larger organizations might have. 26:28 Tom Floyd It’s interesting you mention some of that. I’m on a board of a nonprofit myself and one of the common themes that comes up is succession planning. I’m in the HR consulting world and developing succession planning strategies is one of the things that I do professionally, so when I hear that I definitely have a very specific definition or thought in my mind in terms of what succession planning is. But then it’s like everybody in our nonprofit recognizes that it’s important but it’s like, who has the time. We’re trying to do so many other things too. It’s like, “well grow your replacement”, great, but we barely have time to get everything done that we can do, especially that a lot of it’s based on volunteer time. So I can certainly relate to that too. 13 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 13 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  14. 14. Time Speaker Transcript 27:08 Kathleen Well and it’s not just time that’s at play, it’s the fact that thinly staffed organizations Enright don’t have the dollars to have two high-level folks. You know oftentimes there’s no one who is a CFO or a COO directly underneath the executive. So there aren’t likely successors within the staff structure. But that’s, I think, where philanthropy often comes into play because if you look at succession planning more from a cross organizational perspective or a network perspective and you build folks with the understanding that they might need to go elsewhere to get that next big job so long as they’re within the field or community that you care about, it’s still an investment very well made. 27:57 Don Listwin One of the things – this is Don – that I agree on the development is difficult. One of the earlier comments about a lot of wealth being created I think is generating some opportunities for us nonprofits though where I’m beginning to see more people in their 50s who have gone and created some wealth and now are interested in continuing to be active professionally but not necessarily have to be in the corporate grind. And so those CFO jobs, as you mentioned, are very difficult to find, but we’re beginning to see some people who will come and say, I’ll do the 50% pay cut because I believe in what you’re doing and I do have the skills to help you. The important thing there is to get your organization ready for the fact that you may recruit above them to strengthen the organization and see if that can be positioned as an opportunity for people to learn. 28:47 Tom Floyd And Don, what were some of the challenges that you experienced in your role with the Canary Foundation when you first started out that you never would have anticipated? 14 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 14 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  15. 15. Time Speaker Transcript 28:55 Don Listwin It’s a start-up. For me it was, you know I came from Cisco where you had lots of staff people or Openwave where I was the CEO. So some of the challenges were I think of at least my role with Canary Foundation as the typical kind of start-up and I do my own PowerPoint presentations and I’m writing my PR releases. So you can get overwhelmed with having to do so many things. Things are going quite well for us on the fundraising side and so I’m really trying to take my own discipline and figure out how to strengthen the team and bring on some people to help us. And then for me the critical decision is going to be when do I fire myself because founders need to be fired at some point. And when do I actually need to step aside and get a professional executive director and do what I think I can continue to do which is really help with the vision and the strategy and the fundraising which is where I can provide a lot of leverage. 29:55 Tom Floyd Do you think that some of the challenges that you’ve experienced too as a nonprofit founder and as an executive director – would you say that some of those are similar to those same challenges that are experienced by some of the C-level executives in Corporate America or do they really truly seem different? 30:12 Don Listwin To me they seem different. They seem like the same sort of pressure as somebody who is starting their own business and there’s only four or five or six or seven of you. There’s very limited funds. You want to be super critical about where you spend money. So those types of things at least in smaller nonprofits which I thing were described as the majority of them are like that. Naturally I do a little work in consulting to the American Cancer Society and when you get to organizations like that, then clearly corporate skill matters. They’re dealing with politics of 14 presidents and a bunch of state organizations and the like. And so depending on what you’re talking about in terms of scale of nonprofit. But for a smaller organization around $7 to $10 million a year on Canary, it’s really the discipline of a start-up and really treating the people who fund you as investors and being accountable to them and trying to take those disciplines from business every 90 days back to those investors that I really find translatable. 15 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 15 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  16. 16. Time Speaker Transcript 31:17 Tom Floyd As a small business owner and having been through that process myself, I’m smiling on this end. I can certainly relate to that pain. Bill, can you talk to us a little bit about the process that executive directors and other nonprofit leaders go through in terms of getting funding? What are some of the challenges that come up in that process? 31:38 Bill Bothwell I think the most interesting thing about my experience with our executive director is that he is the leadership person at Shambhala Mountain Center and he came in and trained with the retiring executive director when we were moving through this transition phase. And the leadership styles were dramatically different as I mentioned earlier. When we had done our initial expansion, the then executive director felt very compelled to generate revenue in whatever way possible and was sort of operating in the sort of corporate executive style trying to make things happen. And that really didn’t work for us because it very much lost sight of our mission. And it was in that transition phase that our new executive director sort of almost trained the board in what it was that we needed to accomplish in terms of leadership at Shambhala Mountain Center just by virtue of the difficulties that he was having. And then actually unbeknownst to all of us a former board member actually started serving as a coach for him for a period of six or nine months during this transition speaking with him over the telephone on a weekly basis and sending him summaries of their conversations and discussing in a kind of neutral off-site objective way how he could accomplish this transition successfully. He said that it was incredibly helpful just to have some outside observer who knew what was going on there but was not taking sides. Occasionally she would offer advice on strategies that he could try in terms of management and so on. Some of them he took, some of them he didn’t. But it was just transitioning his leadership role into one of a solid foundation at Shambhala Mountain Center. And we all noticed it taking place over a long period of time. And it actually refocused us on the real mission of that place and that sort of made us feel successful and turned us back onto the right course we felt. He said later on that he started looking at the board almost as a coach because we were now sort of serving the same function as this other person had been. 33:59 Tom Floyd It sounds like it really helped a lot in terms of just overall alignment and improving relationships and all of those types of things. 16 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 16 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  17. 17. Time Speaker Transcript 34:08 Bill Bothwell Yes. And the most important thing which is the nonprofit leader is different from the corporate leader. I mean they’ve got to persuade people. They’ve got to encourage people. They’ve got to believe in the mission. They’ve got to work with a whole different skillset than I think the corporate leader works with. 34:24 Tom Floyd Got it. Now Martha, as a coach who focuses on guiding nonprofit and charity leaders, from your perspective, what are some of the challenges that you see these leaders face? 34:37 Martha Lasley Well I think that in a lot of ways they’re at the center of the hourglass where they have staff reporting to them and then they have a whole board that they report to and it’s really a pinch point in the sense that they’re alone. Kathleen mentioned that there’s usually not someone at their level in the organization. I think this can be a real struggle in terms of finding people to be a sounding board, that isn’t your boss in terms of the board of directors or aren’t your direct reports. So coaching I think can really facilitate that process of having someone that can help you really discover what’s needed and create action plans and accountability structures that work. I think that there are many challenges for nonprofits but I think being alone is a big one. Another is just the number of hats that nonprofit leaders have to wear and the amount of help that they need in terms of wearing so many of those hats. And of course the other one would be the amount of time that they spend fundraising really seems to detract from the mission and it’s not what they came there for and so there’s a lot of burnout and distress. And a lot of them need a break after three or four years. And you mentioned earlier about the corporate grind and I think there’s a real grind in the nonprofit world that’s very different but it can be very disheartening and I think that that level of support that’s needed to keep people in the game and really connected with the change that they want to create in the world is a very important part of supporting nonprofit leaders. 17 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 17 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  18. 18. Time Speaker Transcript 36:23 Tom Floyd You mentioned stress and just burnout and things like that. And that’s one of the things personally that I was dying to ask in preparation for doing this show. I know that in my role as a board member in the nonprofit that I’m in, that stress, it’s almost like I feel more stress sometimes I’ve found than I do in my corporate life in running a small company. It’s just realizing that there’s so much to get done and just trying to squeeze in things every place that we can. So I was curious if that was something pretty consistent that a lot of nonprofit leaders face and it sounds like it is? 37:02 Martha Lasley It’s not always consistent but I do find that it’s similar to the start-up in that we get to work any 80 hours a week we want so we have a lot of freedom. 37:13 Kathleen Martha, let me add to that. Enright Tom, a study that I’d like to point you to called Daring to Lead by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services last year has data about the burnout. And basically they surveyed thousands of nonprofit execs and found that 10% expect to leave their jobs or 10% leave their jobs annually. 37:37 Tom Floyd Wow. 37:37 Kathleen And 75% of these respondents said that they plan to leave in the next five years. Enright A third of them are dissatisfied with their pay and interestingly you mentioned Tom that you feel stressed out as a board member, but it turns out that the Daring to Lead study discovered that two of the biggest contributors to executive burnout, one of them is their relationship with their board. 38:02 Tom Floyd With the board. 18 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 18 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  19. 19. Time Speaker Transcript 38:03 Kathleen The nonprofit boards frequently drive executive transition be it inadvertently or Enright intentionally. And the second key contributor to executive burnout that they found was relationships with institutional funders. Fundraising is idiosyncratic. It’s often overly time consuming. And it’s obviously, as Martha said, not the reason that these people are in their jobs. 38:33 Tom Floyd Got it. Let’s go ahead and go on pause, I’m starting to hear the music for our next break. So stayed tuned everyone. More on Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders when we return. 19 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 19 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  20. 20. Time Speaker Transcript 41:23 Tom Floyd Welcome back to Insight on Coaching. I’m Tom Floyd. Today the topic is Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders. And with me are Bill Bothwell, Kathleen Enright, Martha Lasley and Don Listwin. In our last segment of the show, I’d really like to focus on the impact of coaching on nonprofit and charity leaders. Some more data to quickly set the stage. In the April 2001 The Case for a Coach by the Association Management, American Society of Association Coaches, author Sheila Maher outlined some of the advantages of coaching for non-profit leaders, managers and volunteers. Sheila’s experience coaching key staff officers at various association demonstrated that coaching provides: The ability to lead with vision rather than just manage day-to-day activities Reduction of over-commitment and stress Continued strategic thinking even when pulled in many directions Maximized staff effectiveness rather than micro-managing Using time more effectively Improved interpersonal skills in dealing with difficult people According to the September 2003 Executive Coaching Project by CompassPoint, findings revealed six main areas where coaching had an impact on participating EDs and their organizations: Impact on Leadership and Management Impact on Organization Impact on Attitudes and Beliefs Impact on Personal Life Impact on Job Satisfaction Impact on Tenure and Turnover Now Martha, I’d like to start with you just an initial question to set the stage. Just a general question about the types of people who are doing the coaching out there. To really be effective in coaching nonprofit leaders do the coaches themselves need to have experience working in nonprofits themselves? 20 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 20 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  21. 21. Time Speaker Transcript 43:11 Martha Lasley I think it helps. It helps a lot to have that kind of a background and at the same time most coaches are trained to rigorously approach the coaching so that they don’t have an expert. For instance because many of the executive directors where so many hats I’m often coaching on issues that I do not have expertise in but I can help them find people that will help because I’m not a master of all trades either. So a lot of it is really about exploring options and helping them find the kind of support and the mentoring and the expertise that they need. 43:48 Don Listwin I just want to build on that though. I do think there’s a difference and complimentary between professional coaching which could be used and mentoring from the board level and whether you have a mentor on the board or earlier, Bill was talking about on the side, there is sort of that business of coaching someone and giving them a view and maybe they intersect. But you can have some professional coaching going on for someone; for instance, I’m involved with a nonprofit now where they’re giving him coaching and training about major gifts and how to approach major donors. At the same time he has a mentor on the board, who’s not dealing with that, is helping him try to figure out how to grow the organization because they’re growing dramatically and just the thought that actually both can be complimentary. 44:33 Tom Floyd So that’s some of the mentoring that can be done by others kind of bear on the board like the example that Bill gave as well, having somebody on the board actually work. 44:40 Don Listwin Exactly. 44:41 Tom Floyd With their leader but also leveraging some of the advantages that an external coach can bring as well. 21 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 21 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  22. 22. Time Speaker Transcript 44:48 Kathleen This is Kathleen. Enright And one of the things that a lot of foundations are doing is supporting peer networks of their grantees to provide that expert model. They can talk to others who are in the jobs their in, experiencing the same challenges and hear from them what they’re trying to do to address those things while at the same time potentially working with a coach who might be more of a process coach, meaning that they don’t necessarily have the direct experience but can just help them more systematically address their own goals and objectives. 45:25 Martha Lasley I think that’s a really effective use of resources because the Women’s Funding Network for instance, chose to do a coaching arrangement for their executive directors where it was nine peers in a group but it was coach facilitated. And in that way they were really able to get the best from both worlds of having a process coach there to facilitate the program, but really getting some expertise, some mentoring from each other and some understanding particularly from people who had been in the process longer were able to mentor some of the newer folks and people that were growing their funds, the size of their organizations were able to look to some of the best practices that were already out there that they could get from each other. 46:15 Tom Floyd So in that case the coach was kind of the nucleus, really guiding the nine people involved but they were also working directly with each other also? 46:23 Martha Lasley Yes. 46:24 Tom Floyd What were some of the issues that they focused on in that example? Or some of the things that came up that they were successfully able to help each other with? 22 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 22 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  23. 23. Time Speaker Transcript 46:31 Martha Lasley Well, not surprisingly, one of them was the dealing with issues like their board. The board relationship seems to be a tough one, particularly for small funders. Another one that came up was about working with staff and having great relationships. Another one is about dealing with issues of balance and making sure that people go home at night and getting them some support for how to run that small office in way that they don’t lose heart. And just knowing that they’re not alone is a huge piece of why that program was successful. 47:08 Tom Floyd Kathleen, any examples that you can share? One of the pieces you mentioned in our last segment was how the relationship with the board can be one of the things that can cause stress for leaders in some situations. Any examples that you can share around how coaching or how coaches have been able to help nonprofit leaders foster better relationships with members of the board? 47:30 Kathleen I have a great and easy example and it’s me. I’ve actually been working— Enright 47:34 Tom Floyd Excellent. 23 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 23 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  24. 24. Time Speaker Transcript 47:34 Kathleen --with a coach for the past five years and I’m not certain that I’d be in this job still if I Enright did not have her as a sounding board and a resource over the years. I am the founding exec so this organization has gone through many transitions. So I’ve needed to grow and adjust over the years and my coach has been really helpful in doing that. Just from a more generic perspective though, the kinds of things that coaches provide to this person who’s in the semi-lonely position of executive director, in addition to a sounding board function, they provide a nice shorter-term accountability mechanism, especially if you’re in a coaching relationship that’s goal directed. I have monthly sessions with my coach and each month I tell her the things that were at the top of my list of priorities and each month she’d check in with me about whether or not I’d made the appropriate progress on those things. Executive directors are responsible for everything at the end of the day, but their boards are not in close enough contact with them to have a sense of where things are until, essentially things might get too far behind before they even notice that that’s where things are. And finally, I think that coaches can play a fantastic role as advisor and participant in the CEO assessment process. I always shared my assessment with my coach after it was conducted by the board and we would have a session or two talking about it specifically and then it was used to help structure my goals for the next year and my coach was very helpful in doing that. 49:24 Tom Floyd It sound like definitely a lot of help in terms of not only just relationship management but overall accountability and goal setting and those types of things. 49:32 Kathleen Absolutely. Enright It’s difficult – you’re always accountable to your team but it’s difficult for your team to call you out on if you’re missing your personally set goals and that’s what a coach is there to be able to do. And you sure don’t want your board chair in that role because that is pulling them a little too closely into operations. 49:55 Tom Floyd Don, when you look back at when you first started the Canary Foundation, how could a coach have assisted you? 24 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 24 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  25. 25. Time Speaker Transcript 50:05 Don Listwin I guess for me it was more at the infrastructure level. I didn’t realize all the different government things that I needed to do. So it was more learning a new industry structure than it was really feeling overwhelmed in terms of the management capacity of having – I’ve managed organizations as many as 15,000 people. So I sort of feel like I know the ED job is a tough one but I don’t think it’s any tougher than any CEO job. I mean the buck stops there and a lot of the same skills and things are required. One of my observations that boards need to get a little better aligned on is what are the strategies and the goals and a lot of times I think stress comes because there’s a confusion between the board or the board’s not even of a similar mind. And coaches can help executive directors manage up and get that board aligned because in some cases I argue that growth is the wrong strategy for a foundation. They may be doing great work and may simply be doing – I’ll call it – a beacon strategy that shows the way for other people to do this without having to grow. So in some cases I think you need to get coaches that can help you really in CEO development and a big part of that is board selection, board management and board alignment and that can take a lot pressure off of an ED if they learn those skills. 51:30 Tom Floyd Interesting. Bill, anything that would you add? 51:34 Bill Bothwell Well I can mention that last summer our board, which is about 8 people and we want to expand it to about 12 people in the next year, but anyway we decided to bring in a friend of one of the board members to coach us for roughly a day and a half. And I have to admit that frankly I don’t even remember what we talked about. I suppose I could try to rack my memory and remember again, but I think the important point was that it sort of had the board communicating in a different way. It broke the pattern of the way we thought about things and we normally have an agenda that goes through all of the typical things that we think about and need to think about honestly. But we thought about things differently and the communication was different and all in all it was a positive experience just to shift the orientation even though in retrospect I can't even remember exactly what happened. 25 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 25 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript
  26. 26. Time Speaker Transcript 52:36 Tom Floyd Got it. One of the last points I wanted to hit on quickly in the few minutes we have left, I believe Martha it was you that mentioned earlier in the show that one of the things that’s really different about working or running a nonprofit is you’ve got people who are really motivating and trying to get others to contribute to this overall vision of really making a big change. Is that something that coaches are able help with as well? 53:02 Martha Lasley Sure. I think that coaches can really help in terms of helping the leaders come up with their own vision, but then also weave in the visions that other people have so that they’re not alone, that they have their ear to the ground, they’re paying attention to what people want to create and co-create together and a coach can really facilitate that process, both at the individual level and at a group level. 53:27 Tom Floyd So kind of really helping everybody not only contribute to that vision, but really keeping them rallied around that vision too? 53:34 Martha Lasley Exactly. 53:35 Tom Floyd Okay. Well a huge thank you to the four of you for joining us today. It’s been great having you on the show. And as always for our listeners, a huge thank you to you as well. For more information about our show, you can look us up on the Voice America Business Channel. You can visit our website at and you can also feel free to drop me an email at . Don’t forget, there’s always a podcast version of this show as well that you can access through Apple iTunes. Just open up iTunes, go to the iTunes store, click podcasts on the left side of the screen and just enter Insight on Coaching in the search field. Thanks everyone, we’ll see you next week. 26 | Confidential May 21, 2008 Page 26 Coaching Nonprofit and Charity Leaders Transcript