Tip of the day: Building Leaders

These days our progressive movement is engaged in many important fights. But just because the work we do is important and meaningful, it doesn’t mean we don’t need keep our staff and volunteers motivated and committed.

If we want to win the long game, we will need more leaders. We need people to stick with this work, build their experiences, and become the next wave leadership. We need more managers that see themselves as coaches, but also managers that can put the pressure on when a deadline is looming.

These days I’ve been trying to figure out how to be the manager that supports and develops others, while still setting high-expectations for deliverables. I haven’t found the perfect formula, but here’s what’s working for me:

  • Delegate Projects. Instead of delegating tasks, give projects that people can take ownership over. Give them a chance to develop their own timelines and project management system.
  • Be Realistic. Staff or volunteers should have a realistic chance of completing the project successfully. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be a challenge. Think through the project before delegating and make sure people will have the resources to be successful.
  • Establish Ground Rules. Just like any great training, any great organizing relationship has ground rules you can fall back on. A useful one has been “assume good intentions.” When things go awry we can remind ourselves we’re in this together and work through differences.
  • Get to know them. Volunteers and staff are more than cogs in a machine hitting goals. They are the future leaders of this movement, but that’s only if you provide the support they need to become a leader. Get to know them, where they want to go with their careers, what they find challenging, and do what you can to help them develop their leadership skills.

What are you doing to build leaders? Share in the comments!


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