So this is it – that moment you can't really prepare for, even though you know the day will come. It's the day when one of your team members takes that next step in their career, and that step is outside of your organization.
I never, ever expect my team to stay with me forever. Not only is that unrealistic but unless there's unlimited potential/opportunity in my organization (there are only seven of us, so no, there really isn't much) then it isn't fair to expect them to stay.
I do, however, consider it an honor and a privilege to mentor them while I have them on my team. I try (I am not perfect) to provide professional development opportunities for them outside of the Idaho Nonprofit Center. Three of my team members have all gone through Leadership Boise in the four years I've been at the helm.
But I also try to teach them along the way about all kinds of nonprofit management things. Financials, board roles and development, people management, leadership, HR/benefit administration, what it's like to really lead a team and an organization. My goal has always been to provide a view behind the leadership curtain, expose the rewards AND the challenges.
For me, this is one of the most important things I can do for them. I remember in my late twenties thinking all my work leaders had it so good. They made it look easy. That meant that when I got my first leadership role I was wholly unprepared for it. It was hard work, lonely, challenging and sometimes a no-win situation.
It was difficult to reconcile my vision for what I thought being a leader would be like with the role I found myself actually in. I’m not afraid of hard work, tough conversations and pushing through barriers by any means. But leading was so much more than I could possibly envision and it wasn’t all roses and chocolates like I had hoped, and certainly allowed myself to believe.
As challenging as it was, it was also amazing and wonderful, filled with great opportunity and growth both personally and professionally. I realized as I reflected on my past experience that I learned the most about how I wanted to lead from those who failed me. Most importantly I endeavored to always be better, and I still do.
As I've grown into other leadership roles I've learned that I will always be learning. I have learned that there's a right fit for everyone, collaborative leadership is my style, and that I'm at my best when I am working with my team.
I also know without a doubt that no matter how awesome the Idaho Nonprofit Center becomes, it's our collective efforts as a staff and a board that make it so.
I work hard to provide benefits, flexibility, compassion and autonomy. Generous PTO, remote work capabilities, more paid holidays than a bank and all those perks that make up for the fact that hard as I try to boost salary levels for my team, at the end of the day we're a nonprofit. I hire amazing people and I get out of their way. I give them as many opportunities to learn as I can. I love it when they ask to grow their own skill set or try something new. I am truly blessed to be where I am working with the board and the staff that I do.
And as much as I know my team won’t stay with me forever, there’s a little part of me that wishes things could stay the same. But with change comes opportunity for all of us and I’ve never backed down from either.
So here I am, watching someone I've worked side by side with for four years spread her wings and fly. I could not be more proud of the leader she has become. And she's always had it in her, but I did my best to allow her the opportunity to see it in herself. I always hoped that someday when I moved on to my own next big thing, that she'd be ready to step into my shoes. But I still have work to do and the most perfect opportunity landed in her lap. And she took it. And again, I am so proud.
For all the accomplishments of the Center, and everything I've achieved as a leader, nothing makes me feel more important and valuable than knowing that I trained someone up and helped them advance their career, even if it wasn't within my own organization. I truly hope that as she steps into her new leadership role that she feels confident and prepared. She’s going to do amazing things.
You know, you can never really prepare yourself for when your staff moves on, but the one thing you can do is to prepare them for that day. That way you'll know that you're watching another leader emerge with all the skills and abilities you could teach them, along with all the potential already inside of them.
Make no mistake, she did this all on her own. I just played a supporting role for the past four years. And I wish her all the best.
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