Expert: Melissa Casey (MEd, BA, BSc, PCC, CEC) President Casey Executive Coaching
We connected with Melissa as she was planning to host her 2017 Leader as Coach programs, a developmental program for nonprofit leaders focused on building inclusive leadership practices and practical coaching skills. A leader-as-coach approach is centered around helping leaders, as well as staff, to develop to their highest potential.
VA: What leadership problems seem to be more common for, or specific to, nonprofit leaders?
MC: Common for leaders in all sectors, is the experience of being hired or promoted into a leadership roles without having the necessary leadership skills in hand. There can be an expectation that once a person is in a leadership role the necessary skills will automatically evolve, which, for many, is not true. The desire to be successful is there, but the knowledge and confidence in knowing how to be a leader is another thing entirely.
Another challenge, which is somewhat unique to nonprofit leaders, is the experience of leading team members who may bring incredible heart to their jobs but might lack the skills required to operate in a successful, effective, and sustainable manner. The additional demand on leaders to mentor and coach staff may be another skill that is expected and doesn’t develop magically on its own.
VA: How does a leader-as-coach-approach help nonprofit leaders?
MC: Research shows a leader-as-coach approach results in higher levels of empowerment, increased staff productivity, engagement, and, ultimately, retention. A leader-as-coach approach is centered around a leader’s desire to develop staff to their highest potential through a combination of active listening, thought-provoking questions, and examination of barriers and stuck-points.
Coaching compels people to take action. Coaching supports the development of a fresh perspective, identifies what is wanted (and needed), explores what may hold someone back, and helps create plans to eliminate barriers. Coaching for nonprofit leaders, or from leaders to staff, provides dedicated time to explore ideas in an “agenda-free” space – like having a thinking partner who will support you in examining a challenge from multiple perspectives.
VA: What are some examples of coaching questions leaders can ask?
MC: Asking powerful questions which come from a place of genuine curiosity is the base of good coaching. I encourage leaders to ask questions of their staff and of themselves, including:
- What might be a possible solution or next step in this situation?
- Where are you stuck? What will support you in getting to where you need to be?
- What is one thing you could do to make the greatest difference?
I ask leaders to think about:
- What kind of leader does my organization need today? How about in 5-10 years?
- Am I clear about my core values? Where might I be out of alignment? What impact is that having?
- What one addition to my leadership would make the greatest difference?
- Where do you want (and need) your leadership to be? How might you be getting in your own way? What will support you in getting there?
More about Melissa:
Melissa believes that our capacity to experience limitless potential comes with being bold, daring, brave, original, authentic, and inventive. She specializes in developing visionary leaders who are invested in the principles of inclusion and want to take their organization (and their lives) to the next level.
With 16 years of experience in leadership roles, management, and results-focused strategic planning, Melissa is a Certified Executive Coach and an accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation, holds a Master of Education degree and is trained in strategic visioning methods, facilitative leadership, team development, communication effectiveness, and conflict resolution.
Why we recommend her program: Continuous learning and development supports positive transformation in ourselves and our work. It can be challenging to implement change in our lives, work, and organizations, so we get excited about opportunities that build in time to have practical hands-on experience and provide transformative leadership learning.
Melissa is offering an incredible opportunity for leadership development for nonprofit professionals in the Calgary and Edmonton areas – check out more about her upcoming programs.