Every year, more nonprofit leaders hire coaches and mentors. Why? Because this capacity building creates dramatic results. Here are my insights, after five years as a coach and mentor, of why this relationship provides such striking improvements.
I’m looking over a notebook that has five years of mentor and coaching newsletters. I was amazed to find that I’ve been doing mentoring and coaching for over five years, and I thought in this video I would share my five top insights from mentoring and coaching for that long because they are lessons and that apply to all leaders.
More and more people work with coaches and mentors, and that’s great. In a nonprofit field, we need that kind of expertise. We need help because the field is so vast. It’s changing so quickly, and we’re running really hard, and this is a way to feed our souls.
What makes mentoring and coaching work? I’ll let you think for a second. Okay, this is what I found, and the answer surprises me, and it’s this: accountability. Imagine you’ve got a coach and you’re working with this coach and you know next week you’re going to talk to them. You’ve already told the coach the most important thing is this. I need to get my board in line and know you know you’re going to talk to them again, and you haven’t done anything. And this fires up us to get going because we’re confessing it’s the most important thing and we know we’ve invested in making this work. So accountability is one of the surprises I find after five years of coaching and mentoring.
The rest aren’t so surprising, but I think they’re very helpful to understand. Another piece in what I expected is that clarity. People come and say I have these three choices. Help me to be clear about what my options are and what the consequences are to those. So providing clarity and having someone you can share and say, okay, I have choices, and I’m not sure what to do. What can I do?
Number three is the language most of you know what to do. You know exactly what to do. You know you want to say no to someone. You know you want to say no to the donor. Or you want to say thank you very much, but we can’t do that to the board member. Or, you want to explain something to one of your staff members, and you know what it is –but you can’t find the words.
Working with my clients, what I find is really helpful is we step into our other people’s shoes, and I help them to find a reason why it’s that person’s advantage to do what the client wants to do. So it’s all about finding the right words and once you find them, keep using them over again because they are patterns of success.
If you haven’t done it in 30 days, you’re not going to do it. You need some help, so this is why coaching works -is we recognize that you have limitations we can all do so much, and there are things we do want to do, and if we’re stuck and we haven’t done them in 30 days that’s a sign that we need help and we need to bring that to our coach or mentor.
The last insight it’s all about relationships. It’s all about the people. It’s not about the facts and the figures. It’s about how we feel and understanding how our feelings are being expressed, and it’s also understand how other people feel and helping to understand and interpret those in ways that we can make progress. Nonprofits are passion-driven businesses, and so we have to build relationships and have to deal with a lot of emotions.
So one of the results of this coaching and mentoring after five years? Well, I’ve had the privilege to see some nonprofit leaders really come and blossom. One development person was able to increase her fundraising revenue by twenty-five percent in year one. She continued and did the same thing in year two. It amazed me, but it was her hard work. Another person was on the trajectory by changing their nonprofits revenue by 300 percent. And then the one, I’m proud of this person who balanced her life by figuring out how to get home or in the evenings and really spent about 25 percent less at the office and at the same time saw her productivity in the office go up so. Many outcomes, so I encourage you to find a mentor coach. If you choose me; I’ll send you the back issues of the newsletter.
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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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