Nonprofit executives, by the nature of their jobs, have an “overwhelm monster” lurking outside their door. And that monster seems to get bigger and come closer and maybe even climb under your desk and under your bed. The more you have to do—the more it feels like things are out of control.
So, how can you tame that monster, put it on a diet, and keep it as far away from you as possible? One way? Asking good questions. This video explores three killer questions you can use to unleash mammoth results.
00:53 Question #1 The Relationship Builder
02:09 Question #2 Giving the Right Answer
03:14 Question #3 The Results Creator
03:40 Good Questions and Your Bottom Line
Nonprofit executives, by the nature of their jobs, have an “overwhelm monster” lurking outside their door at best. And that monster seems to get bigger and come closer and maybe even climb under your desk and under your bed. The more you have to do—the more it feels like things are out of control.
So, how can you tame that monster, and put it on a diet, and keep it as far away from you as possible?
One way is by asking good questions.
This video explores three of my favorite questions when it comes to taming the overwhelm monster. The first is about enhancing relationships. The second is about giving the right answer and avoiding regrets about what you said. And the third is about getting stuff done. So I have a question for you. Are you ready to hear the three questions?
The first question is five words strung together: what are you excited about? When might you use this question?
When you are with a potential donor or sponsor, and you want to know what’s going on in their world.
You can reframe it a little bit and say, “What about what we’re doing is exciting to you?” What you want is to understand where the energy is.
Another way to use this—Is when problems seem to be overwhelming your organization. Whether it’s the board–the conversation is just getting to be a bummer, and you can say okay “let’s end this conversation,” and let’s talk about what we’re excited about before we leave today.
Working with the CEO, for example, the other day, we had a lot of stuff to work about and talked about a lot of really challenges that nobody wants, but at the end, I said, “What are you excited about?” And the CEO shared a new project she believed she had funded that had the potential to be a national model. And she was charged by the end of that extra two-minute conversation, and so was I.
So it’s really a mammoth potential of this is to get really good information from this question as well as to turn the energy level around.
So let’s practice. What are you excited about? You can drop your answer in the comments below, or if this is on my blog, then you can just go ahead and send me an email.
Here’s the second question. Can you tell me why you’re asking about that? When might you use this question?
When you sense that you’re getting going to be defensive on your answer. You’re going to justify what you’re saying. So your board member comes to you, and they say, “Hey, why did you hire Joe?” And you’re thinking, well—there’s a resume, and there’s a process and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And you start like regurgitating justification for why you hired Joe.
A second reason, same question, you might instead think, ‘Oh, here comes that micromanaging thing again. I’ve got to nip this in the bud. And so you get into this offensive position. And when you ask the question, you learn something, which is that your board member is a neighbor of Joe, and they wanted to stay fully out of the hiring process, but they’re really excited.
So the board member is trying to convey something good, and you provide the wrong information that’s not helpful, and then you might regret what you’re saying. So that’s the mammoth benefit of this question. Can you tell me more about why you’re asking that?
The third question: Who will do what by when? When will you use this question? You’re having a staff meeting–a great discussion. Everyone knows where you’re going, but no one does, ‘Who will do what by when?’ And therefore, nothing happens. So, if you add that, you have follow-up and accountability.
So let’s practice the question, “What will you do with questions you just learned about, and when will you do it?”
The questions improve the quality of your life and your nonprofit leadership skills. Nonprofit leadership skills are one of the key things that make a difference when it comes to receiving gifts that are unsolicited, whether they be windfalls, major gifts, or just more revenue that comes in your door over the threshold without your actually seeking it, instead when people seek you. To learn more about my research in this area, sign up for my newsletter, Added Value. The link will be in just a second.
Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.
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