Developing a not-for-profit leadership team

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This week, we're delighted to introduce guest blogger Heather Stewart, who will take you through a real life case study about how she supported a not-for-profit leadership team using our newest assessment, the High Potential Trait Indicator (HPTI). Since opening Sage Transitions in 2000, Heather has worked effectively with a diverse group of clients, and within many industry sectors. Heather has a Masters Degree in Distance Education and an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Distance Education Technology. Heather applies decades of senior leadership experience in coaching, supporting and developing leaders and leadership recruitment and retention. She has helped clients to develop strategic plans, conduct research and analysis, facilitate sessions and workshops, develop human resource plans, and prepare curriculum, training and workshops.

Many not-for-profit organisations recruit groups of talented professionals as volunteers who work together to manage complex operations. Recruiting, training and retaining skilled professionals who can work effectively together, and whom share common values and intent is vital for any not-for-profit. Leadership skills are a key element in every board position and amongst staff.

The opportunity

In Canada, a charitable organisation managing nearly Can$30 million wanted to develop a strategic plan that included individual, organisational and community leadership strategic directions. With organisational, community and individual leadership as a priority, strong leadership and a full understanding of individual and group leadership traits was very important.

The Executive Director was very interested in using the High Potential Trait Indicator (HPTI) assessment to discuss individual and group leadership traits. The board and staff were high functioning, but there were a myriad of opportunities to fine tune individual, committee and group performance, using HPTI.

The programme

Using HPTI provided an opportunity for the board and staff members to consider their individual leadership traits and profile. We first attended a board and staff meeting to discuss HPTI and the reasons for using the assessment as part of the strategic plan. All participants were provided with a detailed set of instructions to complete the assessment, including timeframes for completion, individual debriefs and group discussions as part of the strategic planning session.

Each individual received their own HPTI report to read and review and then had a telephone discussion of their results. The process provided a forum for the individual to discuss how their scores and the resulting behaviours help and hinder their performance, and their impact on their colleagues and the organisation.

The results

We compared the individual results to explore any alignment or difference in traits in the team. The team’s results showed that this group is conscientious. They effectively plan and implement, and the organisation’s board and committee structure, combined with comprehensive policy and procedures confirms that their recruitment, selection and performance review system has resulted in the right people in the right positions.

The team’s adjustment scores demonstrate their ability to manage the demands of investing and distributing funds in a well-planned and non-reactive way. The curiosity results suggest that the group as a whole have a more mild level of curiosity. They may be slightly inclined to follow tried and true policies, and in an organisation that is focused on financial management, and good decision-making, these results confirm strong alignment between individual traits and organisational mission and vision.

Risk approach and ambiguity acceptance show more of a range of results. Ambiguity acceptance has the largest range of results, confirming that board and staff members vary in how comfortable they are in dealing with diverse opinions and viewpoints.

The competitiveness results are much lower than one might expect from a group of senior leaders. However, in a charitable organisation, high individual competitive scores would not provide the fit required to meet the organisation’s mission and vision:

We strive to provide an ongoing contribution to the quality of life in our community through the stewardship of entrusted funds, grant making and community leadership

The use of HPTI with individual board and staff members, combined with its inclusion in the final strategic planning session, was very effective. The individual and full board discussions resulted in a series of strategic directions that highlighted the importance of carefully considering individual and group leadership traits and behaviours in recruitment, committee positions and structures, retention, succession planning and modelling leadership in the community.

Want to see an HPTI report for yourself?

Click here to download a sample.