By Patricia Montague, CAE 2016-04-05 04:17:03
Know One’s Own Strengths Organizations of all types can succeed or fail on the strength of their leaders, and associations such as SNA are no different. From executive decisions about business strategy to the establishment of an organizational culture where staff and volunteers feel welcome, included and empowered to contribute, it takes strong leadership to ensure that an organization has the direction and resources needed to meet its goals. While volunteer leaders tend to have different goals and objectives from those at the helm of corporations and other for-profits, the skills and confidence it takes to lead are universal. Every spring, SNA hosts an annual National Leadership Conference (NLC) to offer training to its national and state affiliate volunteer leaders on many of the attributes that are essential to presiding over a nonprofit organization. Ten years ago, SNA introduced its Future Leaders Program (FLP) as part of NLC. Taught by three SNA national past presidents, this program is designed to tap and train future leaders for our state associations, with the hope that many of the 400+ participants will one day serve at the national level. We know this program works; more than 100 of those attending the annual state presidents/presidents-elect meeting in March were all FLP graduates! One goal in SNA’s three-year Strategic Plan focuses on the Association’s infrastructure, charging us to enhance this type of leadership development support to our state affiliates. Later this month, at the 2016 NLC in Minneapolis, a key component of the training that will be available to all attendees is the Clifton StrengthsFinder® self-assessment tool offered by Gallup, Inc. (http://strengths.gallup.com). Gallup research has proven that we succeed when we focus on what we do best, not on fixing our shortcomings. Building on our strengths—those attributes that have been fine-tuned over the years based on our education, environment and life experiences—makes a lot of more sense than devoting excess energy into overcoming weaknesses. When we focus on strengths, we become more productive, we perform better and we are more engaged. More than 13 million people around the world have taken the StrengthsFinder assessment, considered one of the most affordable self-improvement tools of its kind. Upon its completion, five top strengths emerge, and an accompanying report provides users with a way to apply those strengths—that unique combination of skills, talents, experience and knowledge. Companion books and tools are available to help in goal-setting and identifying ideas for action. SNA needs more future leaders at the local, state and national level. Interested in developing your leadership skills to grow as an association volunteer or even just improve performance and happiness at work, home or with a personal initiative? I recommend that you look into StrengthsFinders.
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