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Good Afternoon VisionServe Alliance Leadership – I wanted to offer you a few thoughts for leadership that I gathered through two online town halls I attended in the last 24 hours.

 

Dan Cardinali and Independent Sector teamed up with Bridgespan and offered some great advice. They suggested compartmentalizing your planning in the four areas:

  • Strategy/program - How do we deliver on our mission under current constraints?
  • Organization - How do we support our staff? How do we adapt or create new systems for working?
  • Leadership - how does our leadership approach need to respond/evolve?
  • Financials - how do we retain our teams & sustain ourselves financially?

Then they focused on the first three steps of “Eight Steps for Managing Through Tough Times” (link to the full article below):

  1. Act quickly but not reflexively and plan contingencies: understand the critical aspects of the challenge as quickly as possible; do away with “nice to haves” that are not critical to mission; delay new initiatives; manage costs aggressively; scenario planning for best & worse case (not just for funding but also staffing shortages, etc); identifying “trigger points” for action; develop contingencies
  2. Identify the ppl who matter most & keep that group strong; invest in them - time, care, focus & support; engage them in problem solving etc; heighten your focus on equity, diversity and inclusion
  3. Stay very close to key funders; transparency is key in both directions; explore/negotiate grant funding restrictions

https://www.bridgespan.org/insights/library/strategy-development/eight-steps-for-managing-through-tough-times


By now you have probably realized this is a marathon, not a sprint. Take care of yourselves and your family. Give yourself a break. If you are taking care of children or others at home in addition to running your organization, it’s ok to acknowledge that you need help or that some things will take longer than usual. We are all human beings first.

 

Take more walks. Someone likened this situation to whitewater rafting in the fog. It will require lots of pivoting and rapid response numerous times over the next few months. As much as possible, pace yourselves – and do the same for your staff team.

 

Remain “other-focused”, acknowledging that people process things differently and we may need to provide more reality checks as we work remotely and move quickly through a dramatically changing landscape.

 

Inspire & build trust in all we do: that is our currency – utilize it.

 

The good news is that the Independent Sector (that’s us!) was designed to create and rebuild community. There are so many things we have all wanted to change within our field and beyond it. Let’s embrace the opportunity to fully innovate.

 

Lastly, be creative, inspirational and occasionally spontaneous. One suggestions was to ask everyone to find a costume or crazy hat to wear to the next staff Zoom huddle!

 

That’s it for now. I have tremendous respect for you all – thank-you so very much for leading your organization and this network through this pandemic. And do something fun this weekend! (Let’s organize a virtual happy hour via Zoom or other platform soon! BYOB!)

 

Lee Nasehi

President & CEO| VisionServe Alliance