In the social sector, some times the individuals in leadership roles are not the best managers. Sometimes they are the visionaries who had a market changing idea, the doers who started small and grew a nonprofit out of love, or the academic or corporate executive who have had a change of heart and want to give back in their ‘second career’. This nets out to some nonprofit bosses who aren’t always best prepared to manage a team and given the critical role of leaders, it can make for a particularly difficult work environment. What to do when you have a difficult boss? Read on for a few tips that we’ve seen help.
Separate Yourself From Your Work
Don’t stop giving 100% at work, but try to diversify your energies so that work isn’t the main source of positive (and in this case, negative feelings). Focus on the larger nonprofit community by attending networking events and exploring programing they might have. If you don’t live in a large metropolitan area with a rich community, look into some of the online resources that exist.
Recognizing you can be a leader from any role is a defining moment for some. Realize that you don’t need a title or a job description to define your leadership responsibilities or how you’ll comport yourself at the office. This is the first step at managing up, and being a leader from within.
- Continue to focus on your professional development and find growth opportunities beyond work. This might be at a continuing education course at the local university, like UCLA Extension’s Nonprofit Management Certificate or an online program like the Center for Nonprofit Management.
- Seek mentorship and needed leadership from organizations like Young Nonprofit Professionals Network or the Nonprofit Learning Lab’s Mentor Program.
- Suggest a team retreat to focus on building culture and organizational values. Take a look at this interview of Peter Morelli of Deutser, on the importance of building culture.
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