Tina Combs, President & CEO
It didn’t take long to find out why people said that I had to meet Tina Combs. Our coffee shop conversation flowed naturally and easily over a topic that was an obvious passion for Tina – leadership in the non-profit world.
At the heart of every great business, every great organization and every great non-profit, there’s a leader with a heart. Lose your heart for people, and your organization will pay the price.
Here are some leadership lessons I learned from Tina, a leader with a heart for the people she serves.
HAVE A HEART
First and foremost, “Say, ‘No,’ to ego. Don’t worry about who gets the credit as long as the work gets done for the good of the community. Be sincere in what you do and sincerely try to help others.”
Leadership isn’t a power trip to be taken. Leadership is about improving the quality of life for others, your staff, your volunteers, your clients, and your community. By investing in training, education, retreats, and celebrations with your team, you let them know that you care and that you value what they bring to the team. Have a heart. Do something meaningful for the people you lead.
LEAD WITH PURPOSE
“A good leader must never forget their purpose.” Purpose, values, and vision motivates, builds a strong sense of culture, and gives people something worth giving their lives too. Keep your eye on the prize, and daily point the members of your team toward your purpose. To lead is to inspire people with a sense of purpose. Can they articulate the purpose of your organization?
“Work well with others. Get people engaged. Treat your volunteers like gold, appreciate them, be organized and don’t waste their time.”
Time is precious, and there is no better way to wear out, discourage or lose great staff and volunteers than to waste their time in ill-prepared meetings lacking leadership. If you want people to volunteer and serve with you, respect their time, lead by your example, and value your volunteers, your staff and your team in every possible creative way.
Tina rightly said, “I can tell when people (I’m volunteering for) forget I’m a volunteer. Always show appreciation. No one is obligated to help us.”
And no one is obligated to work for us. When you know you’ve hired the right employee, treat him or her as the valued asset they are. It’s been repeated over and over that it’s much less costly to invest in great employees than it is to search for and train a new employee. The same goes for volunteers. Value the people you have around you, and they’ll likely stay with you for years to come.
BE WILLING TO SERVE
“Good leaders go outside of their world and help other people in the community. Volunteer for others.”
Non-profits require a strong volunteer base, and some of the best leaders are those who have learned to serve well from their personal acts of service. Service is learned in the field of volunteerism.
Is it time for a refresher course in service? If so, contact a non-profit with a purpose in line with you’re passions and find your life enriched by your acts of service.
TAKE TIME TO CULTIVATE
“Cultivate relationships & your reputation. Show that you’re leading a credible organization.”
Self leadership, organizational leadership, team leadership takes intentional effort. The best leaders are those who give specific attention to building healthy, life-giving relationships inside and outside of their organization. The best relationships and the most revered reputations are built on honesty without compromise.
Organizations need leaders who are honest with their teams, their clients, their volunteers, and themselves. The quickest route to a damaged reputation is to compromise on the truth. When a leader compromises in the smallest of ways, his or her team quickly assumes that’s the way of the organization. Once lies and half-truths take root in an organization, the culture shifts. And a shifting culture will damage your reputation. Safe-guard your relationships and your reputation. Build a culture of honesty without compromise.
Businesses, organizations, teams, volunteers, and non-profits will be at their best when their leaders are at their best. What are you doing today to become a better leader tomorrow? How are you investing in your personal leadership?
Leave a comment below and let me know what leadership investments you are making. I want to learn from you, and I hope to hear that your team and your organization are soaring to new heights because of your leadership. Make it happen leaders.