Changing from corporate to the non-profit sector can be a considerable task, but when you’re in a leadership position it’s especially important to understand how your role will vary and be prepared to take on different types of responsibilities. For non-profit in particular, the mission of the organisation is the centre of its activity. Leaders who haven’t previously worked for a charity need to develop a style of management that reflects their professional and personal connection to the issues.
Here are a few tips to help you smash your new leadership role in non-profit, from getting to know the sector to inspiring and motivating your team.
The best way to learn about working for a non-profit or a charity is to examine the leaders who have made considerable successes in the past and adopt some of their tactics. How did they get their staff involved? Did they organise regular informal coffee chats or meetings? Did they give out awards or recognise achievements publicly? In the future, you’ll find your own style of leadership, but in the meantime, using other people’s tactics that work well can help you settle into your new role.
A great way to build fast expertise in the charity sector is by connecting with industry leaders on CharityConnect. Here, you can chat with others who have been in your position, learn more about the sector and pinpoint any skills you may need to brush up on before you start your new leadership role. Taking advantage of forums and social media will enable you to meet other industry experts, and it’s always good to come into a new position with your own contacts. This is also a great space for you to represent your organisation once you’ve settled into the job.
After you’ve built up that list of contacts, you can take advantage of the networking opportunities. Meeting people in various setting can help you understand your organisation and the non-profit sector even better, which means you’ll come into your new position with a wealth of knowledge and a confidence that is key to leading a team. You may even find a few people who are also new to the sector that you can get advice from.
Once you’ve started the job, it’s good to conduct a ‘listening tour’ to get a better feel for your new organisation. Speaking to small groups and individuals will help you get a varied understanding of the business, which can ultimately inspire change. By communicating with influential groups (board members, service partners and thought leaders), you’ll be able to come in with a fresh perspective and suggest positive changes that could be beneficial to the business.
Don’t put pressure on your staff, let them do what they do best. It’s probably easier than you think to attract people to your mission. Your main task is to create an environment where your staff can use all the skills they have. You don’t have to be on the front lines all the time. Your role is to organise everything at a higher level and help your team members be the best they can in their positions.
Changing from corporate to the charity sector may seem like a challenge but a leadership position in a non-profit organisation can be one of the most rewarding jobs you’ll ever have in your career. You’ll benefit from working for a company you’re passionate about; just don’t be afraid to make mistakes because that’s the best way to learn how to strengthen your leadership style. Are you ready to make the transition? Take a look at our management level jobs.