As a group, non-profit organizations have a variety of challenges when it comes to leadership development and human resource management. These challenges are not surprising considering their often highly limited financial and personnel resources, which makes many non-profits cautious about spending funds on the latest staff development programs and trainings. However, as the need for efficiency and effectiveness can be the difference between continuing to receive special funding and being cut from a crucial program, not-for-profits may see an even greater ROI from Emotional Intelligence assessments and trainings than their corporate counterparts.
When looking at just a few of the characteristics that encompass non-profits (NPs), some key identifiers stand out:
- They generally are funded through grants, and donations
- They have a volunteer Board of Directors to help them stay on mission
- They exist specifically to help society in some way
- Non-profit CEO’s and staff often wear multiple hats
- They work with a wide variety of people
These five characteristics each require varying dimensions of emotional intelligence, and to be most effective, may need a balance of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and/or social skills. EQ assessment and training can strengthen a non-profit’s staff and board to maximize each of the 5 characteristics.
The Connection Between an Effective Non-Profit and Emotional Intelligence
Emotions often run high where finances are concerned and many non-profits are on the edge of financial disaster (real or perceived) year-round. If an organization’s leadership is weak in self-awareness, the rest of the organization is likely to follow suit. Being able to identify and monitor your moods, and recognize the effect your emotions have on everyone around you can make a huge difference in the success of any organization. Add a high level of self-regulation and social skills and you may just have the perfect CEO and/or team member for a profitable and effective establishment.
Non-profits have a volunteer Board of Directors. Non-profit Boards are supposed to be a mix of people who can best represent and support the mission of the organization and the people it serves. Balancing the personalities of power is a common challenge for any group. And while one may prefer to shy away from confrontation and conflict, a Director who has an EQ that is high in self-regulation, as well as self-awareness and social skills, can more effectively interact and keep the organization moving forward.
Non-profits exist specifically to help society in a tangible way. When the reason for your existence is to aid humanity in some manner, it’s important to make sure your non-profit employs people with the right degrees of empathy to keep your organization on target. Of course, Self-awareness traits (such as sense of humor), as well as Social skills are also desirable attributes for people working in the not-for-profit sector.
Non-profit CEO’s and staff often wear multiple hats. A common issue facing numerous non-profits is that a small team must accomplish a large mission. It’s not uncommon for a NP CEO to not only handle the oversight of programs and daily operations, but to also be responsible for carrying out such tasks as bookkeeping/accounting, managing and creating marketing pieces, personally providing trainings and community programs, and grant-writing/fundraising tasks. To accomplish so many things in an effective manner, a person must be strong in EQ dimensions of Motivation, for without an intrinsic motivation, a highly-tasked individual is likely to quickly burnout quickly.
Non-profit employees work with a wide variety of people. Regardless of the mission, sustainable non-profits ensure they have direct connections to the population they serve and the people who can support them. Therefore, successful Directors and their staff need to have strong Social Skills so they can easily communicate with everyone from the Mayor to the homeless mother of three, and everyone in between. Additionally, having an EQ that is high in Empathy and Self-regulation can definitely help when interacting with such diverse stakeholders.
Developing an Emotionally Intelligent Non-profit
While some organizations may feel that in order to develop a high-EQ team they need to replace everyone from their CEO down, that isn’t necessarily true. Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed with training and coaching. One step towards an EQ-enriched organization is to identify the current EQ strengths and weaknesses of your CEO and/or non-profit team. While there are short, free EQ tests on the web, many are primarily a basic introduction and do not provide the full range of information and analysis professional assessments offer. Additionally, quality assessments include a live debriefing session with a professional coach certified in EQ to provide a better understanding of the results, and make basic suggestions for areas needing improvement.
Live EQ trainings are also advantageous in developing successful non-profits, and can be cost-effective. While corporations often reserve EQ training for their leadership team, a smart non-profit will include all staff, board members, and even their regularly engaged volunteers. When everyone on the team understands the importance of EQ and how it can impact their success, they are more likely to work together to create a successful team.
As funding sources diminish, and competition grows, smart non-profit organizations need to ensure they are doing all they can to develop a strong, competent team. The insights provided by EQ assessments, and the development offered through trainings and coaching, can help turn a struggling organization into a solid institution.