It is that time of year when folks look back. You’ll see all kinds of top 10 lists as we look back and try as hard as we can to remember what happened in the early part of the year.
I struggle just to remember what I ate for breakfast!
But here’s what I do remember. In the nonprofit sector, we grappled with the anxiety of a possible recession, the new reality of hybrid working, the Great Resignation, and the hopes that MacKensie Scott would come a-callin’.
And that’s just for starters.
As we end the year I would like to offer you a list of your favorite posts of 2022. I have been writing this blog for over 10 years, and I love writing it. I love the community we have created as a result. I hear from so many of you regularly and please know that your voices are alive and well and living in all of these posts.
Bottom line: this is not my blog. It’s ours. And so with no further ado, here are your favorite posts from 2022.
Drumroll, please… we’ll work our way from 10 down to 1 like any good old-fashioned top 10 list.
Your Favorite Nonprofit Leadership Blogs Posts of 2022
Coming in at #10 and likely to keep on climbing is my most recent post, a game of Family Feud in which I offer thoughts about how essential it is to focus not on skills or expertise but rather on attributes to look for as you build a leadership pipeline on your board. Play along!
Nope, this is not about an icky character who finds his way to your organization. This is an “illness” that befalls far too many nonprofits that lose focus and spread themselves too thin to accommodate new programs or initiatives that either do not fit at all or do not fit right now. And yes, the article offers prevention strategies.
I’m not totally sure why I didn’t call this my New Year’s Resolution, but that’s what this was. A video committing to use my platform with intentionality to call out the problematic power dynamics in our organizations, the “isms” that thwart our ability to move in the world with impact and integrity. I spent time the other day looking at my blog posts and podcasts from this past year — I feel pretty good about how I brought that commitment to life and hope you agree (see #4 as evidence).
I am so happy to see this one in the top 10. One of the most common concerns board members raise is that they feel like their voices don’t matter — that staff presents a fully cooked plan and expects a metaphorical round of applause. If you have recruited with intentionality, every board member brings a perspective to discussions that should be solicited and valued. Here’s a strategy for how to do that well.
In this piece, I unpack this idea of “servant leadership” — that nonprofits lead in the service of a big and bold vision, that they help people long for the wonder that comes with possibility.
Yes, it’s a real thing. And in this video, I argue that the resignation is about the hunger people have for meaning and purpose and that nonprofit leaders are holding “Willie Wonka’s Golden Ticket” — that we live in the land of meaning and purpose every day. We just need to do a better job of promoting that and a better job of inviting folks to join us.
I posed the question because I truly believe the answer is not clear to everyone. And you’ll find some reasons here I think you’ll find useful to share with your stakeholders. But I felt like my friend Ken Cloke captured it for me when he said:
“All of these conflicts and tensions revolve around the concept of us vs. them. And the work of leaders in families, in towns, in nonprofits, and in all those places you find leaders is to keep reminding people that there is no them.”
Five of the most common nonprofit myths are outlined here, and we bust the heck out of them.
Think of it this way. Staff members don’t want board members in the weeds. And board members want the opportunity to offer higher-level insights and ask challenging questions about the future and what’s possible. These conversations simply don’t happen in the weeds (the tarmac) — they happen at cruising altitude. Monthly board meetings = life on the tarmac.
Board members need more than just a binder of materials when they join a board — they need to feel a sense of belonging, a real affirmation they joined the RIGHT board — THIS organization and yes, they need to understand where the organization has been, where it’s headed so they can start to build a picture for themselves of how they can add value. This one comes with a downloadable checklist that folks told me they found very helpful.
Here’s hoping that putting these top 10 front and center will offer you the opportunity to see one you may have missed (I am quite clear that you are busy)!
And I hope that the winter holidays will come complete with a real, honest-to-goodness break and that you find some time to be refueled by the love of those you hold near.
See you in the New Year.
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