Holding up the wall

October 1, 2020

Filed under: Human Resources,Leadership — jonathanpoisner @ 1:48 pm

As a nonprofit Executive Director, do you ever feel like if you walk away, things will crumble?

I felt this occasionally as an Executive Director, particularly in my first few years.

Strategies I employed to get beyond this feeling:

  1. Take deep breadths
  2. Look back at my to-do lists and short-term plans, break them down in chunks, and think hard about what else can be either delegated or pushed off/let go.
  3. Map out my major yearly, quarterly, and monthly tasks. Figure out which ones can be delegated. If to nobody right away, figure out how somebody can eventually take over those tasks. (Of course, for some, the answer is nobody because they’re inherent to the E.D. role).
  4. If appropriate after #2 and #3, ask for help. Be candid with your board chair or, if that would be awkward, somebody else who you can confide in who will grasp the picture. Sometimes just talking about it’s enough to recognize you’re probably not actually holding up the wall.

What strategies have you used when you have this feeling? I’m looking for other ideas to share!

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1 Comment »

  1. I find suggestion #2 is the most useful – figure out what’s on your list only because it was done that way or that frequently before but doesn’t need to be done that way or that frequently now. Board meetings every other month instead of every month, with just email updates between. Switch semi-monthly payroll to monthly. Do all your donor thank-you calls in one monthly batch, instead of weekly, as they come in. Calendar time for the things that are important but not urgent, let go of things that are urgent but not important. (Using Covey’s 7 Habits framing.) I just wish my email Inbox didn’t tell me how many unread messages it has – watching that go up by 100 every day, knowing it’s only humanly possible to deal with about 30-50 max. is so damn depressing!

    Comment by Jan Wilson — October 2, 2020 @ 9:31 am

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