Home » OPINION » Columns » FROM THE GROUND UP WITH PHIL HARDWICK: The 7 steps to being a leader for a year

FROM THE GROUND UP WITH PHIL HARDWICK: The 7 steps to being a leader for a year



If you have been selected as the leader of a nonprofit organization there are seven steps to making it one of the best years ever for the organization and for you. Whether your organization is local, statewide or national these steps, when taken in order, can be the framework for leading your group.

1. Understand leadership — If you take a trip to the nearest bookstore and scan the books on leadership you might want to allow plenty of time. There is no shortage of books on the subject. One wonders how many variations of leadership there can be. John Maxwell, prolific leadership author, says that influence is the essence of leadership. Peter Drucker, business management expert and author, wrote The Effective Executive over 40 years ago and it has stood the test of time. It has been updated and revised slightly, but the main points are still the same. In it he said that effective executives do the following:

» Manage time

» Focus on contributions and results

» Build on strengths

» Set the right priorities

» Make effective decisions

2. Understand Community — A community is a collection of people with a common interest. In your case, the community is your organization and its stakeholders, i.e. those who have an interest in the organization. The common interest is whatever the organization aspires to be or do. That should be found in the organization’s mission statement. The noted Psychiatrist Abraham Maslow pointed out in his “Hierarchy of Needs” that the most basic human emotional need is to belong. Make sure that your organization’s members feel that they belong. Engage them. Communicate with them.

3. Set Personal Goals — Now it’s time to start thinking specifics about your year of leadership. If you could choose any goal for the organization, what would it be? Think ahead to the end of the year. It’s the annual banquet and you are in front of the group giving the summation of what has been accomplished during the year. What would you be saying? What are YOUR goals for the organization? What are the barriers to achieving those goals? Are they consistent with the organization’s goals?

4. Survey the Environment — The first thing a new leader should do is to determine what needs to be done. The leader should review the past five years’ minutes and budget. He or she should also meet with past leaders and other influential members to determine the real issues. This is a good time to pause and review the differences between goals, objectives and tasks. Although it is not imperative that we classify everything we will do during the year under these categories, it is useful to understand the distinctions among each. A goal is what you want to achieve. It is the end of the road; it is where you are going. An example of a goal is to raise $20,000 in the coming year. That is what you want to achieve. An objective is a milestone on the road to achieving that goal. So an objective might be to raise $10,000 from the top 10 large funders. A task is very specific. It is what you need to do. In our example, a task would be to identify the potential largest funders. In other words, tasks are what will be done to achieve objectives.

5. Plan the Year — One of the best ways to do that is to have a strategic planning retreat. The steps in strategic planning are (a) situational analysis, i.e. where are now, (b) visioning, i.e. where we want to go, (c) goal setting, i.e. how we will get there and (d) implementation. The first three steps are what should be accomplished at the retreat. It may also be a good idea to look ahead three years so as to set the stage for the future on some matters. One of the best things about having a retreat is that it engages the leadership and others if desired in the process of setting goals. Therefore there is a sense of ownership of the goals.

6. Implement the Plan — To fully implement the plan, the following skills are needed:

» how to communicate

» how to run a meeting

» how to follow-up

» how to hold others accountable

Many organizations operate on the committee system. At board meetings, committee chairpersons give a report on the activities of their committees and a discussion is held. This is an effective method of follow-up when it works properly. But what about those times when committee chairpersons neglect their duties? The leader must be able to identify what is going on and select the most appropriate method to deal with the situation.

7. Celebrate Success — Celebrating success does two things that are very important – it gives the organization a chance to look back and to look forward. It therefore sets a standard for the future. Most nonprofit organizations have some form of annual banquet or meeting as a way of celebrating success. These can range from the standard sit-down dinner and guest speaker to something more creative. In any event the real heroes of the year both inside and outside of the organization should be recognized. There should be a look back on the year. Mention the goals were set at the retreat and the goals that were accomplished and whose lives were made better.

Here’s wishing you and your organization the best year ever.

» Phil Hardwick is a regular Mississippi Business Journal columnist and CEO of The Hardwick Company, LLC, which provides strategic planning facilitation and leadership training services. His email is phil@philhardwick. com and he’s on the web at www.philhardwick.com.


… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

Click for more info

About Phil Hardwick

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *