Nonprofit Network Blog

Executive Directing is a Team Sport

Thursday, June 09, 2016 4:26 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

If I was asked to reduce the role of a nonprofit Executive Director’s work down to a single action, I think it would be “team builder." Approaching the role as if it's the work of a single person is daunting, if not entirely impossible. But a team approach blends the multiple talents available to the organization and more effectively addresses the complex needs of mission-based entities. 


We are confronting community issues, and teams provide community solutions. 


One of the most critical teams an Executive Director can build consists of herself and her board of directors. Other teams that can appropriately address the work might be high functioning committees, distinct staff teams, partnership teams between nonprofit organizations and fund raising teams with donors.


In Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni shares that teams often suffer from key dysfunctions. Our team building skills are enhanced when we understand the causes and remedies of these dysfunctions. 


Fear of conflict is one of the dysfunctions teams often struggle to address. 


Conflict within organizations is inevitable. Managing that conflict is healthy and builds stronger teams and, ultimately, healthier organizations. 


If you have a team you want to enhance and are stuck on how to do that, give me a call at 517-796-4750. Strong Executive Directors are surrounded by strong teams.



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