Generating ideas, connections, and action

Leadership Restructuring: Lessons from Month Six

Promoting Leadership Within Our Organizations is a Big Win!  Why aren’t more people doing it?

Yay!  The board whole heartedly endorsed Natalia to be the new Managing Director for the Leadership Learning Community on May 8th.  Because getting board buy in is important, I think it’s worth explaining why this was a seamless “no brainer”.  Board members have been able to experience firsthand the improvements that Natalia has brought to LLC in her role as Marketing/Communications Director.  For example, Natalia has consistently (and persistently) professionalized LLC’s communications internally and externally.  You can thank her for our excellent monthly webinar series and robust monthly newsletter.  Having good ideas and resources won’t amount to much unless you can get them in front of people and Natalia definitely has; we have gone from a community of 800 people to 3,500 under Natalia’s leadership.  She also took the lead in an operations audit that introduced many new project management tools to LLC; time tracking tools, capacity projection tools, budget development tools, timeline tools and….she likes this stuff!

I mentioned the endorsement of the board but what about the staff? See for yourself,  

“I am very excited to have Natalia as our new Managing Director. She is intelligent, organized and a creative problem solver. Congratulations Natalia! “
– Lauren 


“Natalia has an unequivocal eye for collaborative organization. She can listen to a conversation and quickly extract not only what the goals should be but can quickly deconstruct each one into steps of action. Three LLC staff have been hired within the last year, and even before her official promotion have already looked to her for guidance. Thus, this promotion not only fits her strengths, but it also validates our everyday interactions” 
– Miriam  


“I'm really pleased about the changes in our leadership model. Natalia has a holistic understanding of our organization and is able to manage its moving parts incredibly well- with utmost calm and clarity.” 
– Eleanor

One succession challenge is getting buy in for new leadership.  When it’s someone we know, value and trust because they have been with the organization, these changes can be welcome. So the reason for this long winded tribute, besides wanting to celebrate Natalia’s promotion, is to raise the question of why so many organizations look to recruit senior leadership from outside of their organizations.  Another way of asking the question is, “Why we don’t create more advancement pathways for people inside of our organizations?”  Rather than speak for anyone else, I can say that I assumed that as a non-profit (and as the primary fundraiser) that we could not afford to have many senior people on staff (or more bluntly, senior level salaries).  Maybe the question we should ask instead is “Why do we think we can afford to lose high performing people rather than pay them more?”  CompassPoint has brought our attention to loosing Executive Directors for many reasons, including low pay.  What about the folks in our organizations who have to leave in order to advance themselves financially and professionally?

Natalia told me that one of goals as Managing Director with HR responsibility is to work on salary brackets and advancement strategies for each position within LLC.  Having worked in the non-profit sector for too long, I have fallen into thinking that not getting a raise or even taking cuts to adapt to fluctuations in funding goes with the territory.  It’s always good to get a fresh perspective and to see things through fresh eyes (Natalia’s); it’s not okay to be stuck with flat salaries.  When Natalia and I researched comparable salaries for her communications position in the non-profit sector, I explained that there was a cap. Coming from the corporate sector, I think she may have been initially surprised but she was quickly proactive about growth opportunities in the organization.  Research by the Building Movement Project and other organizations suggest that young people are not limited by old paradigms and expect more recognition and compensation.  I remember being in one conversation where someone suggested we (meaning my generation of EDs) need to figure out how to train the next generation of leaders.  It did cross my mind, that maybe we just need to stay clear and let them bring it on because there is plenty that needs to change.  I think Natalia will shake things up and I am sure there will be times when it might feel uncomfortable and I welcome the change!  Congratulations Natalia!


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