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This Seasoned Nonprofit CEO Authentically Shares Her Recommendations for Effective Leadership

Laurel Lynch, long-time CEO of HOPE Family Services led Manatee Community Foundation’s Manatee Connects session today, generously sharing her leadership recommendations. We regard Laurel as a courageous and effective leader. Her work has supported the growth of new leaders, facilitated meaningful partnerships, and supported gains for those who are survivors of domestic violence.

Here is Laurel’s “Letterman Top 10” list:

Number 10.
Know that leadership is not a one way relationship.
Commit to learning new things as the things are constantly changing. Read articles, listen to Ted talks. Pay attention to things that have worked and nix the things that haven’t worked.

Number 9.
Reward and recognize staff members to showcase their value.
Happy staff members are better staff members. I buy lunch once a month. Each department has a choice of what we order. Beyond celebrating birthdays, weddings and babies, I write thank you notes when someone goes above and beyond. (It’s okay that I’m teased about being old fashioned.)

Number 8.
Motivation as I define is encouragement. If a staff member seems hesitant to try something new, work with them to get them going so they feel confident. It’s not about motivational speeches, it’s more about including people in the process and accolades when they are successful.

Number 7.
Encourage contributions or suggestions.
Each year I send a quick survey with just a couple of questions regarding what we do really well and what we can do better. We also ask for any general comments. Some of the best ideas have come from staff members. If something is not “do-able,” I explain why.

Number 6.
Have a positive attitude.
Negativity is more contagious than positivity. It just seems to happen that way. Also, negative people are miserable in the face of happiness, and they have a tendency to leave.

Number 5.
I can talk about listening and needing to improve in this area for an hour. As an only child, it doesn’t come naturally to me. IT’S SO IMPORTANT. In this age, I don’t think people feel heard and feel valued. Take a little time to listen to them, check in, ask them how they are and mean it.

Number 4.
Be Passionate.
Would you want to follow a dispassionate leader?

Number 3.
Be a role model.
Demonstrate the kinds of behavior we what staff to demonstrate. Ethical communication, empathy, walk the walk – not just talk the talk. Admit when you make a mistake- helps others admit when they make a mistake.

Number 2.
Understand your leadership style
It is so important to understand what you do well and where you may need improvement. We all have natural talents and things that don’t come naturally. How can you improve if you don’t have a sense of where those improvements are necessary?

Number 1.
Have a sense of humor