My colleagues often hear me say that our growth is about looking forward—not looking in the rearview mirror. What I mean is that we have to be continually looking down the road at what environmental, political, cultural, and evidence-based practical changes are taking place in our nonprofit landscape. If we are not looking ahead, we are missing out on opportunities to meet the needs of our constituents. We are also missing out on excavating the skill sets, the capabilities, the processes, and strategies that ought to be in place in order to keep up—and lead—the relevant solutions to community and societal problems. And, as we evolve and grow, we need to ensure that all of these systems and processes are growing along with us. Otherwise, we are doomed to play catch up, which will result in stunted growth.
Creating and capitalizing on opportunities requires that our organization works to be a nimble, agile institution.
As leaders of an organization, it is our charge to inspire a mindset and a culture that is steeped in flexibility, one where leaders are able to take in new information rapidly, assess its relevance and importance, and then make smart data driven decisions.
This type of flexibility requires a specific type of talent and the ability to build the “muscle” in the form of skills that will meet the future. Hiring talent who are experts in their respective fields, and who have the ability to stretch themselves, to hone the skills to see around the corner, take calculated and well-thought out risks is critical to organizational long-term success.
This type of talent is not easy to find and not readily discernible in the traditional interview process. Knowing what to look for, too, requires stretching of leadership muscles. Over and above content expertise is the need to work with staff who think critically, who are brave, and who are willing to challenge the status quo. We look for individuals who are unafraid to ask the hard questions, who will inspire innovation and risk-taking, and who are capable of managing that risk from a multifaceted lens—including financial, reputational, and existential forecasts. This approach to our talent is the foundation of Fedcap’s organizational DNA.
I attribute the success of Fedcap over these past 80 plus years and our recent growth surge to an overarching culture of courage, calculated risk management, and to a flexible mindset and capacity of our staff.
What is it like in your organization? Your department? Your lens? Do you cultivate a flexible mindset and culture? If so, how does that translate into your day-to-day operations?
As always, I welcome your thoughts.