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As many social sector leaders understand, cultivating a connected internal culture is no longer optional if you want to positively impact your mission. From supporting your board of directors to drafting emails to constituents, organizational leaders must take a systems approach to model and voice their supporters’ thoughts throughout every initiative. Read on to learn more about supporting your team.

Best Practices

As the leader of an organization, you play a critical role in motivating strategic priorities and structures. In addition to guiding the strategic management of your organization and your direct reports, you are the ultimate driver of culture—including the feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and processes that affect your team’s daily work environment. As you develop a connected organization, keep these tips in mind:

  • Require staff to be data driven. By supporting strong data management practices, you can empower your team to collect and evaluate vital information about your organization’s effectiveness.
  • Ensure that teams have the tools they need for effective collaboration. Are shared docs easily accessible? Is data housed in a central repository? Collaborative tools will give your team the structure they need to work across the organization.
  • Acknowledge and address your staff’s feelings. When staff are accustomed to owning their own operational areas, they may have complicated feelings about some organizational structures. Encourage staff to share their concerns, and be open to hearing about the challenges your team members face.
  • Form processes that reflect expectations and norms. The expectation that teams work collaboratively should be a formal part of your staff’s performance measurement, meaning it’s incorporated within job descriptions, board and volunteer agreements, and internal processes.


Leading Your Board of Directors

In addition to these responsibilities, leaders can play a pivotal role in stewarding, supporting, and guiding a board of directors. Leaders should take the time to individually engage with each board member, becoming familiar with their strengths and interests so they can best serve their teams.

As a component of board engagement, leaders should ensure that staff feel empowered to work alongside board members and reach out to them when they can support certain initiatives. This is critical, as some board members may not fully realize the role that tasks like fundraising play in funding an organization’s mission, or how grants relate to mission fulfillment. Helping your board realize the connections between departments and individual roles can ensure that the board is familiar with key operational areas while connecting them to different functions of your office.

As the go-to ambassador for your organization, be sure to educate your board on the significance of key budget items, strategic priorities, and long-term goals. Leaders can play a pivotal role in helping to uncover the “why” behind their service to your cause. They, too, should be able to communicate their passion and ties to your organization.