This post is an excerpt from The Nonprofit Leadership Workbook for Women from DonorPerfect. Download the entire workbook for free here.
Collaborative projects set the stage for you to demonstrate your leadership skills, motivate fellow colleagues, and influence the growth path of your company and your career.
Here are some do’s and don’ts that can help you make the most of collaborative opportunities.
DO: Speak up!
Make sure your voice is heard in meetings. You’ve been given a seat at the table, which means your opinion is valued. Intimidated? That’s normal, but that’s not a reason to keep quiet. Come to the meeting prepared so you can provide valuable insights and feel confident sharing because you know you did your homework.
DON’T: Be afraid to try something different.
Don’t be confined by what your organization has always done. If you think your annual fundraiser needs a fresh approach, pitch it. If your colleague floats a far-out idea, hear them out. Leaders look to the possible, not the present. Consult with stakeholders to position your new approach to be successful, and if it’s a no-go, that’s okay. You’ll have plenty of projects that need your perspective in the future.
DO: Roll up your sleeves and get in there.
When you’re spearheading an initiative, don’t just dictate orders or share ideas. Actively participate with your team members. How do you expect others to buy into your vision if you’re not willing to do the work to see it through yourself?
DO: Speak the language of your organization.
Learning about the business you’re in and why things operate the way that they do places you in a position to take on more responsibilities. Reach out to a leader within your organization who can provide you with mentoring to teach you the business values so you can demonstrate a high level of business acumen in collaborative settings.
DON’T: Do everything yourself.
Don’t take on an entire project. The key to great collaboration is rallying together people with different talents, so that each aspect of a project is completed by someone who is an expert. Leaders identify people’s strengths and place them in positions to succeed. When you take time to get to know the people around you, you’ll know who to ask to take on an assignment to achieve the best result.
DO: Ask for feedback.
Reaching out for feedback often is a good practice. It brings stakeholders into your process and keeps your moves in line with the overall goals of the organization. This also sets clear expectations around how you are going to measure success versus how other people are going to measure success.
This gives you the opportunity to make the tweaks necessary to achieve the greatest impact.
DON’T: Downplay your accomplishments.
Women are often guilty of deflecting compliments and saying, “Oh, it’s nothing.” That type of response detracts from the value you’re adding to the organization and places you in a one-down position. Instead, stand up and you graciously take credit for the work and for the recognition you receive.
DO: Recognize outstanding contributions within your team.
Leaders aren’t threatened by others’ talents. They celebrate them and leverage them in ways to benefit the progress of their organization. Allow leaders to emerge alongside you by publicly applauding their successes and making strides to contribute to their personal and professional growth, even as you travel your own growth path.
Consider your next collaborative project your time to shine and put your leadership potential on display.
If you found these tips helpful, get more advice and best practices for moving on up at your organization in The Nonprofit Leadership Workbook for Women. Download it free!
Emily Rose Patz is a brand storyteller who leads content at DonorPerfect, a software company that helps nonprofits grow. As part of a bustling creative team, she specializes in creating content that turns readers into first-time buyers and clients into passionate advocates.