Do you wish that life as a nonprofit leader were just a bit easier?
If you’re like many nonprofit leaders, work can feel like a never-ending battle to balance your budget. You’re probably overworked and underpaid. You may be heading toward retirement, with no succession plan in sight. You may have taken the reigns of a faltering organization. Or, you may simply be struggling with the everyday stresses of life in a nonprofit.
In June 2015, Third Sector New England published a study called Leadership New England, based on survey results from executive directors and board members from throughout New England. The report validated what a lot of nonprofit leaders already know: We’ve reached a pivotal moment in which we must invest in developing our leaders if we are to steer the nonprofit sector to succeed.
Lots of research demonstrates the benefits of executive coaching, and the business world now relies on executive coaching to help managers be more successful. In my work as an executive coach for nonprofit leaders, I see the benefits of executive coaching every day. However, many nonprofit leaders are just now catching on to the benefits of executive coaching. If you’re curious about what executive coaching can do for you and your organization, this article is for you.
Let’s explore five of the most significant benefits of executive coaching for nonprofit leaders here:
1. Prevent burnout and improve work-life balance
If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, you’re probably dealing with a lot of stress. You may even be at risk of burning out. While you probably know a lot of the “hows” of self-care (eat better, exercise more, sleep more, etc.), you probably still need to develop new habits to reduce your stress. Executive coaching harnesses the science of habit change to help you develop the habits you need to be effective, with less stress and more joy. Working with an executive coach can help you learn how to manage your time, get more energy, and even enjoy your friends and family more.
2. Prepare for smooth leadership transitions
According to the Leadership New England report, nearly two-thirds of nonprofit leaders plan to leave their position within five years. But, six in ten have no succession plan. Executive coaching can help you pave the road for a successful leadership transition. For example, an outgoing leader who receives coaching a year or two before she leaves can more effectively strengthen the all-around leadership potential of her staff and board. Executive coaching can also grow the bench strength of existing staff and help new leaders transition smoothly into new roles.
3. Improve board-director relationships
Fundraising may be the biggest struggle you face as a nonprofit leader, and you may wish your board played more significant role in this arena. Part of the reason may be that you are struggling in silence. A lot of board members are often unaware of the extent to which leaders are struggling. Executive coaching can help you discuss your challenges in a way that strengthens board-director relationships, improves communication, and clarifies shared priorities. With support from an executive coach, you can learn how to work together with your board to create an effective organizational strategy and a healthy future for your organization.
4. Improve communication skills
It can be especially difficult if you came into your role with little to no managerial training. And, when stress levels run high, it can be hard to communicate well with staff and other stakeholders. Executive coaching can help you to improve your management and communication skills. This can include delegating effectively, listening deeply, and setting healthy boundaries. Ultimately, an executive coach can help you foster a healthy staff culture of engagement, accountability, and respect.
5. Increase smart risk-taking
One of the reasons why the nonprofit sector is struggling is because we’ve relied for too long on old strategies. The enormous challenges we face require courage and creativity to break norms and think outside the box. Executive coaching can help you cultivate the emotional capacity to stay true to your organization’s vision and values when things get tough and lead your team onto new frontiers when the time is right.
No matter who you are, the benefits of executive coaching can be extensive and significant.
Maybe you’re preparing to retire and want to leave behind a healthy and stable organization. Perhaps you just took on a leadership role and want to ensure a smooth transition. Maybe you were just hired to lead a faltering organization. Either way, you don’t have to struggle alone.
Instead, I recommend finding an executive coach who specializes in supporting nonprofit leaders like you. I invite you to apply for a free, one-hour discovery session if you’re curious about executive coaching and want to get clear on your next steps forward. It would be an honor to help you lead your organization toward a healthy future.