Friday, 23 August 2013

Do you have to have done something first to train others?

Ok, let's get a controversial one out there and please feel free to shoot me down! I'm prepared to be challenged on this one as I am on all my blogs. And remember, this is my personal opinion rather than that of my employer!

There are lots and lots of consultants and trainers out there in our sector who have set themselves up as experts. My question is, have they ever achieved personal mastery in the subject in which they claim expertise, or have they simply learnt it through researching the subject? Or maybe a bit of both? And does this matter?

Some will argue that if they are a great presenter, an inspirational speaker, an effective facilitator, have plenty of case studies and anecdotes, bring out the best in their students, does it really matter if they have never done it or been very good at it?  I think there are some real exceptions to the rule, and it is certainly possible to study mastery and describe that to others, and perhaps that is what some do.

There's an old saying along the lines of 'those who can't do it teach it.' Well I have always thought that this was a load of rubbish, and I would like to think that in the majority of cases, in a sector full of highly intelligent people, you would get found out very quickly. In my opinion the best trainers and consultants are the ones who are 'doing the do' as well as 'talking the talk'!

For me it's a bit like asking people for money. How can you authentically do this if you are not already giving to the cause yourself? Yet lots of people do, especially professional fundraisers but also trustees. I always make sure I give to a cause before I ask for money on their behalf.

Similarly I can't see how you can train someone on something you have never done your self, or have not got a great deal of experience in. For me it's all about credibility. What happens if one of your students asks 'Can you tell me how you have personally ....' What do you do if you don't have that experience? Lie? Therefore I personally would not be happy to teach something I have never done.

So what would I do if I wanted to hire a trainer or consultant for my organisation? I would want to see their CV to ensure that they had the experience they claim to have had. If they say they are an expert in major donor fundraising, how much have they personally raised? If they say they are an expert in direct marketing, what type of campaigns have they managed and delivered and what size. If they say they are an expert in leadership, what leadership roles have they held? In addition I would ask for a free demonstration session to make sure I was happy with the standard of their training. Any trainer worth their salt would do this as it would pretty much guarantee new business if they are as good as they say they are. It's also good to see them in action first; just because someone is a subject matter expert, that does not make them a great trainer! This is certainly how we hire our trainers at the Institute of Fundraising.

I think there are some exceptions to the rule. These are the teaching of qualifications, where I think the most important thing is knowledge of the subject. Of courses it helps if this knowledge is combined with practical experience and skills. The other area is coaching, where it is the skills of the coach rather than their subject matter expertise that counts.

So what do you think? Let me know!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Heaven or hell, or maybe somewhere in between? The crucial relationship between Charity CEO and Chair.

I'm going to put to one side my continued frustration about the highly distracting and damaging public debate about about senior executive salaries in the charity sector. I, like many others, have said their bit. 

This week I wanted to focus on the crucial relationship between a Charity CEO and her or his Chair of Trustees. 

Why have I chosen this subject? Well, I have just been elected as Chair of Trustees at the charity at which I have been a trustee since 2009. It is a wonderful international children's charity called ChildHope and I am proud and very honoured to have been given this opportunity. After our last trustees meeting, where my election as Chair was formally announced, my CEO Jill Healey emailed the outgoing Chair and I a paper entitled 'A Marriage Made in Heaven. The Relationship Between Chairs and Chief Executives in Charities' by 2011 Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme, Penelope Gibbs. This coincided with me having read the previous week an article in Third Sector entitled 'Chief Executives Under Pressure'. So I thought this would be a good subject for my weekly blog.

I was struck by the statistics quoted by Jenny Berry of ACEVO in Third Sector, that almost 50% of the calls to the ACEVO CEO crisis helpline were from CEOs who had a problem with their relationship with their Chair. Penelope Gibbs' paper helps to provide a really good explanation for what can go wrong with the relationship and what can go right, as does Jenny Berry's frequent recommendation to CEOs that they need to work on the relationship 'like a marriage'.

It seems like there are some key factors to the relationship working. The first is a 'flexible understanding of roles and responsibilities'. Now this for me is crucial. The relationship with my CEO will change from how it is now as a trustee to how it will be when I am an experienced Chair. The fact is I have never chaired a board before, so this will be a massive learning curve for me. I am quite clear about my role and how it differs from that of the CEO, but we will need to agree these roles early on in our relationship. My CEO will also have to accept that the way I want to run the Board will be very different to the way it was managed by the previous Chair, as will the way I want to manage her. Note to self: agree the ground rules, roles and responsibilities and keep them flexible.

The second factor is the 'ability to challenge and accept challenge'. Again this is crucial. Going back to my own situation, I am confident that Jill will allow me to challenge things where appropriate and likewise I would expect her to challenge me. We have different backgrounds and areas of expertise and experience, and we need to make sure that the way we lead the organisation takes full advantage of these differences. I look forward to this dynamic greatly and will enjoy the learning I gain from it. Note to self: challenge! If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you always got!

The third factor Gibbs identifies is 'skills of empathy, communication and managing the board'. Well I would like to think I have these qualities and skills. I use them every day in my life as a senior manager, and feel I can transfer them to my role as Chair. The bit I have no prior experience of is managing a CEO. Yes of course I have managed CEOs 'upwards' but never in a formal relationship. Again, I am looking forward to the learning this will give me and I am hoping that my learning will benefit me in my day job as well as as a volunteer.

The fourth factor is 'skills of  on the part of the CEO'. I would have thought this applied to the Chair too. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for a Chair who is passionate about the cause they represent and wants only the best for the organisation to be faced with a CEO who does not have these qualities and skills. What this can cause is conflict between the CEO and their staff team and the CEO and the Board. One hears about these so-called 'psychopathic leaders' and I can only sympathise with the organisations that have to work with them. I am grateful that in my first role as Chair I will not have to face such a situation, and that my CEO has humility, communication and self-awareness!

'Commitment to the cause' is the fifth factor and this goes without saying. I would be surprised if commitment is the issue, but a mutual understanding of the vision and mission might be. I can think of organisations where the CEO and Chair have a differing views on the mission of the organisation, and this can cause issues for both meeting beneficiary needs and trustee and staff morale. A similar situation might exist where the Chair and CEO disagree over vision and mission. Note to self: Make sure we have a common understanding of the vision and mission (I am sure we do, but useful to check!)

The final factor is the rather hard to describe issue of 'getting on'. Now this is about personal chemistry. Do you get on as individuals? You don't need to have anything in common but the organisation itself, but the CEO and Chair need to get on as individuals, and as we saw at the start of this blog, one needs to work on this 'like a marriage'.In my opinion, and that of some that Gibbs interviewed, you don't need to be friends although you do need to be friendly. In fact being friends can make it harder, because at some point as a chair you will have to make a difficult decision or say something that your CEO will not want to hear.

In addition to these factors I would like to look briefly at a couple of things that I think will help make the relationship work. Firstly the Chair should have a good induction. They should meet key staff members to learn about what they do, and what their priorities are. This should at the very least include the entire Senior Management Team. Secondly there should be formal 1:1 meetings between Chair and CEO; action points should be agreed and minuted. Thirdly there should be a formal appraisal process, providing the opportunity for the Chair to collect feedback on the CEO from their team and also for the CEO to give feedback on the Chair. Finally I think there should be a clear 'contract' between the CEO and Chair; this will clarify respective roles and responsibilities and also clarify the level of support the Chair is able and/ or expected to provide. 

I'd love to hear from you if you have any hints or tips about how I can be a better first-time Chair!

Friday, 9 August 2013

A salutary lesson on why bureaucrats should keep their mouths shut unless they have something useful to say

The subject of my blog today was going to be on the crucial relationship between the CEO of a charity and the Chair of the Board of Trustees, but I will write this one next week. So watch this space!

However my attention has been distracted over the debate spurred by the Daily Telegraph's 'revelations' about the salaries of charity leaders, and the subsequent inappropriate (some might say inept) comments of the Chair of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross. He is reported to have said that large salaries paid to charity staff would "bring the sector into disrepute"and that organisations must ask if their pay levels are "really appropriate."

There have been a flurry of articles, comments, tweets and blogs on the subject from various sector figures and umbrella bodies, and not surprisingly the general feeling is the same. Firstly, it is up to the Board of Trustees of a particular charity to decide the salary levels in that organisation. Secondly, we are talking about highly skilled and experienced people here, running large and complex organisations with turnovers of hundreds of millions of pounds and thousands of staff; why should they not be paid a salary to reflect this responsibility, expertise and experience? Thirdly there is the social return on investment angle; after all these people are doing a job that actually makes the world a better place;  they already work for considerably less than they would earn in the public and private sectors; why the hell should anyone be questioning that?

I am summarising here a number of points but generally there is broad agreement across the charity sector and the sector media that pay of senior charity staff should be proportionate to their experience and the size and complexity of their role. I could not agree more.

To say I feel sorry for those who are the subject of this non-scandal would be over-egging it. I think these individuals have broad enough shoulders! And I do sometimes wonder, if I were earning over £150k, what I would do with all that money! I would like to think that, after I had paid my bills, supported my family and secured a reasonable but not excessive lifestyle, I would try do social good with this money. I am sure that this is exactly what does happen, but it is certainly not up to me to make judgments.

What is most amazing to me, however, is that a non-executive bureaucrat being paid £50k for just two days work a week (yes, that is £125k pro rata!) feels either qualified or able to make judgments on the amount that charities pay their staff. Secondly and more importantly as a senior figure in the charity sector (albeit the regulator) why would he make the mistake of saying something that could potentially damage public confidence in the sector? I would like to hope that he has been misquoted or taken out of context, but I fear this is not the case. I think he is simply guilty of making an unwise comment to the media, and is now living to regret this. The worst case scenario is that he actually does believe that charity staff should be expected to subsidise their own lifestyle just because they want to change the world.

The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and many other popular papers love to uncover a scandal, and Shawcross has helped provide them the ammunition they need. If he had taken the line that Stephen Bubb, CEO of ACEVO and many others had taken, the story would have probably gone back into the gutter where it deserves to be. Instead of which there are probably a large number of people out there who may be considering their support for their favourite charities. Although donors are far more savvy than they ever have been, and let's not forget that, there will be those who believe that charity staff are doing it for the love of it, and that they should earn a mere pittance to do so. And this story simply fuels the fire that charities are profligate spenders that not only hassle them on the streets every time they try to go shopping, but now are paying their executives outrageous salaries!

Interestingly, and I accept that Telegraph readers are a special breed, (!) but in a poll on the paper's website 72% have voted to say that they do not believe that charity CEOs should be paid £100k. The choices given for the poll were 'No. Donors want their money to go to the poor, not executives. Comparisons with what people might earn in the sector are wholly false.' and  'Yes. These people manage huge budgets and make life-or-death decisions. You have to pay for talent.' The result of this poll worries me. I hope it is giving Mr Shawcross a few sleepless nights too.

Let's just hope this is silly season and the story goes away. Some of the charity leaders named in the Telegraph article are giants in the sector, none more so than Sir Nick Young, CEO at the British Red Cross. This is a man who has given his life to the charity sector and led huge organisations like the British Red Cross and Macmillan to greater and greater things, improving and saving thousands of peoples lives along the way. And that on a salary less than the average CEO of a local authority in the South East of England. I know who gets my vote for the highest salary!

Friday, 2 August 2013

'One size fits all' management does not work

You may be surprised (or not if you know me!) to hear that I find it hard to read text books. This is not because I am not interested in the content (I am, and I buy them all the time, in fact I have a stack on my dining room table right now!) but because I have a low attention span, and I get easily distracted. I can easily read an entire chapter  without taking anything in. This is why I use mind maps to help me retain the information. (See my short video on this subject). I've always been the same, so I have always been a fan of the One Minute Manager series of books. In fact one of the reasons I invented the Five Minute Fundraiser series of videos for the Institute of Fundraising was because I think a lot of people learn in short simple bursts like me.

So I was pondering on a particular management situation the other day when I was inspired to re-visit my well-thumbed copy of  Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, which really helped me. You can read the book n a couple of hours tops, and it is brilliant. What it reminded me was, not in these words, that 'one size fits all leadership, simply does not work, but that situational leadership does. Put very simply, as a manager and leader you need to be able to adapt your style to the situation, to the individual and the stage of development they are at. 

Now this sounds very obvious, but I think a lot of leaders forget to do it, or maybe even don't know that they should. It is interesting that a frequently asked question at interview is 'How would you describe your leadership or management style'. So I thought it might be useful to summarise the concept of situational leadership, and if you are interested it is something that you could look into further.

So to start with there are four styles of leadership within situational leadership:
Style 1: Directing
The leader provides specific instructions and closely supervises task accomplishment
Style 2: Coaching
The leader continues to direct and closely supervise task accomplishment, but also explains decisions, solicits suggestions, and supports progress
Style 3: Supporting
The leader facilitates and supports employees' efforts towards task accomplishment and shares responsibility for decision making with them
Style 4: Delegating
The leader passes over responsibility for decision making and problem solving to employees

Now I have experienced all of these styles of leadership (often used inappropriately!) and it can be completely demoralising. I'll give you an example. I have managed close to a dozen Royal events of one sort or another in my career. A previous boss, who did not have this experience, tried to manage me down to the real minutiae on what I saw as quite a simple event at Clarence House hosted by HRH Prince of Wales. It was not well received!  We have all heard of 'micro-managment' and probably have experienced it. But a directive style with a member of staff who has little experience in a particular task really is essential, and then as that staff member learns how to master that task the style can move through to coaching, supporting and onto delegating. The mistake that managers often make is to delegate before the staff member is ready. 

So it is really important to not only consider and use the correct leadership style, but it is vital to consider the stage of development the staff member is at, not just overall, but for a particular task. For example if I was asked to prepare my organisation for its annual audit I would need a different style of leadership to if I was asked to introduce a new income generating activity. It's quite obvious when you think about it.

In situational leadership the four styles of leadership therefore need to be linked to the right level of development. It also needs to be acknowledged that people's level of motivation differs with the level of development. For example when you are learning something new you are fully motivated to learn, when you know partly how to do something but not fully your motivation level may drop or be variable, but when you achieve mastery you will be fully motivated again. See below:

Level 1: low competence, high motivation (Directing style required)
Level 2: some competence, lower motivation (Coaching style required)
Level 3: high competence, variable motivation (Supporting style required)
Level 4: high competence, high motivation (Delegating style required)

So hopefully you can see that when it comes to managing people, it should not be an automatic process. You need to seriously consider where that individual is at with their mastery of their role, and elements within their role before you choose the appropriate style of leadership. It is also helpful (if you are a leader being led) to look at why you are happy or unhappy with the way you are being managed.

Good luck with this and let me know how you get on.