Upgrade Your Toolbox


We're always having conversations with leaders about self-care. But today, we're specifically thinking about professional development. When we contemplate professional development, we immediately think about the goal of your mission and what you hope to achieve. But before the work starts, we need to prepare, and choose the right tools for the task. Invest time to equip yourself for success.  

Time and the right tools are a resounding endorsement of professional development.  Which leads us to two questions: 

1) Why do we jump straight into the work? 

We suspect our rush to start the work directly in front of us may be due to our urgency to get things done. Being compelled to take on all the “urgencies” (checklists, emails, social media, and unscheduled visitors, to name a few) provides many of us with a sense of accomplishment. This is a physical reaction from your brain firing adrenaline and other feel-good chemicals. However, this comes at the cost of not addressing items that are most important. Self-care is made possible when we spend time working on the “important” items instead of the most “urgent” ones that are right in front of us.

2) Are we using a tool that's not up to the task? 

Regrettably, we often defer professional development to "when we get the time" or "when we get the money." But sound time management practices tell us that these things don't happen on their own. We must deliberately make the time and seek out or budget the funding. Having and choosing the right tools is all about working smarter, not harder. If you're a board member, make sure you're protecting a line-item for professional development for everyone—that's staff, your executive director, and yourselves. Seek out grants and funding that will cover the costs of professional development. Build a relationship with your local community foundations. This is soundly in your control. Own it. Buckle on that tool-belt and be intentional. Which, by the way, is the best approach for self-care. 

What’s missing from your belt? Is it a new hard skill? How about all the soft skills that are so important in our nonprofit sector? Becoming better at our profession accomplishes many things. It obviously impacts the quality of our outcomes, but also has a significant impact on our self-care.

Work that falls within your skill set also is done more quickly (sooner diagnosis of issue, less trial-and-error) and is done under less stress (because of your increased confidence). Working within your skill set is also a major contributor to job satisfaction. So, identify an area of your work that needs to be refined or built. Like an organized toolbox, If you add sound time management and increased proficiency at your work, you are well on your way to the work/life balance we crave.

Be intentional. 

In response to the need for intentional and deliberate professional development, Nonprofit Network offers direct focus development to all Executive Directors, CEO's, Managing Directors and/or Direct Reports.

Executive Director Academy and Peer Coaching Groups

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NN's Peer Coaching
Peer Coaching Groups meet online, on Zoom, once a month for 7 sessions and are designed to facilitate goal setting, coaching, and action learning within a small group of peers. Each group member decides what real-world goals or issues they wish to address and are guided by a cognitive coach. Your peers will coach you primarily through asking open-ended questions to expand the member’s thinking and options.

Cohorts are made up of small groups are no larger than 8, but require a minimum of 6 participants

 NN's Executive Director Academy
The Academy is a cohort of 15 (or fewer) ED's who have been in their job around 5-7 years or are ED's in training.  The cohort meets bi-weekly online. We'll be covering different topics important to your role, and you will apply the information in real-time between these sessions.

*Updated from original post Sept. 2019

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