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Guest Blog: Train yourself to be a confident leader

We are excited to welcome leadership coach, Kathy Archer, to the Volunteer Alberta blog! This is the second of a three-part series on leadership in the nonprofit sector. Read last week’s blog Confident Leaders Stand Out. Do You?

Having confidence helps us stay calm and composed in challenging situations.

It’s true, having self-assuredness benefits you as a leader. It helps you achieve results. Knowing that, however, doesn’t do any good when your knees are knocking or your stomach is churning. In those moments, you can’t just will confidence upon yourself. Or can you?

Leadership can be a tough gig. At any moment, you can be thrust into an intimidating situation or handed a seemingly overwhelming task. Lack of knowledge, being short on skills, or simply lacking the confidence to tackle situations head on can cause many leaders to pull back and play small.

When you are insecure, it often means you don’t hold others accountable. Your uncertainty makes you wishy-washy and indecisive. The truth is, unconfident leaders don’t do the tough work required of being a truly outstanding leader.

What can you do to develop your leadership confidence? Here are two daily habits you can adopt to grow your leadership confidence.

2 habits to practice daily in order to grow your leadership confidence

1) Assume the position!

Your body posture plays a key role in your confidence levels. Research has shown that not only does body posture speak to others, it also it communicates to you too!

When you slouch, the world sees indifference or inability. Likewise, folding in tells your body: “I’m not very important in this situation. I don’t know anything. I’m scared. I’m embarrassed”.

When you instead sit upright, head up and shoulders back, the message to yourself is more about feeling in control, feeling knowledgeable, and being capable. This change in your body results in a change in your demeanour which impacts how you are perceived by others.

One tool to immediately increase your confidence is power posing.

This pose is not to intimidate others. Instead, strike this stance in private. Standing in the superwoman position, taking up as much space as you can, releases chemicals in your body that boost how you feel and up your level of confidence.

Get in the habit of striking a superwoman position before any task you perceive may be threatening, challenging, or demanding. Try expansive body postures such as putting your hands on your hips, standing up and stretching tall, or leaning back and putting your feet on your desk to send the confidence chemicals to your brain.

Habit to Build: Shut your door or head to the bathroom to assume the superwoman position for 2 minutes a day.

2) Lean into the discomfort!


The best way to develop confidence is to practice courage. Courage and confidence go hand in hand.

We often lack confidence because we lack the courage to try anything different, enter into precarious situations, or to wrestle with arduous tasks. We take the easy way out far too often.

Make a commitment at the beginning of the day to purposefully do at least one thing that takes you outside of your comfort zone.

Habit to Build: Record your results daily. What did you learn by leaning into the discomfort? Write down your new commitment for the coming day. You will soon have a running list of uncomfortable things you did that you didn’t die from!

Increase your confidence one day at a time

Purposefully working on increasing your confidence puts you ahead of the crowd. Cultivate new habits that encourage an increase in your confidence levels. Push yourself to do something uncomfortable daily and practice the power position. It won’t be long before you are doing things you were once scared to even consider.

Kathy is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership and find balance in life. She mentors women as they rediscover their purpose, passion, and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses, and the challenges of family life. In her signature program Women with Grit: Leading with Courage & Confidence, Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive change in their lives.

(Photo credit Mike Ngo)

Thinking lady

Guest Blog: Confident Leaders Stand Out. Do You?

We are excited to welcome leadership coach, Kathy Archer, to the Volunteer Alberta blog! This is the first of a three-part series on leadership in the nonprofit sector.

You know a confident leader when you see one. Their posture, mannerisms, and voice command your attention. Confident leaders can influence a community (of any size or shape) to act.

Working in a nonprofit or charity, your organization is a community that you can move to action. Increasing your confidence will help you shape a team of devoted followers so you can do meaningful work.

3 reasons why growing your leadership confidence is a good idea

1.  Confidence assists your decision-making

leadership 1Big decisions, like applying for funding, must be made decisively. A leader should not waver on when, how, and who is developing the framework and pulling the proposal together. A confident leader selects and delegates these tasks swiftly and succinctly.

Smaller decisions, in many ways, require even more leadership courage. “Do I spend time cleaning up email or head over to the program site?” Without confident awareness, hiding your head in the sand (a.k.a. cleaning out your inbox) will most certainly not ease any staff challenges that may be going on at the site.

A leader who has developed the confidence to address tough staff issues will make the decisions, such as where to focus their time, with more clarity and courage.

2.  Confidence makes it easier to accept feedback

Leadership is synonymous with personal development. Great leaders emerge because they are brave enough to look at their mistakes and to learn from missteps. Growth starts with the capacity to give your attention to the feedback you receive.

Hearing criticism is uncomfortable. It takes courage to hear other people’s opinions openly. Once you learn that receiving feedback won’t kill you, it gives you the self-assurance to course correct and start the cycle all over again. You will be a bit tougher the next time. You will find more and more that rather than reacting with defensiveness, you respond with curiosity and a desire to learn how to improve.

3.  Confidence reassures your team

leadership 1 bA leader who lacks confidence gives off potent vibes that can scream uncertainty. Shaky, hesitant, and non-committal responses leave employees feeling unsure. Uncertainty breeds apprehension amongst workers leading to gossip, low morale, and general dissatisfaction.

Your team looks up to you. Even when it feels like they spend more time tearing you down, the truth is that they are looking to you to provide the stability and composure they crave.

Your job is to be the brave, valiant leader who courageously moves the program forward. While it may not seem like it some days, your employees want to get behind you. They want to follow you. Take their feedback as an empowering message. They want a strong leader to follow, and by speaking up, they are helping to strengthen you.

Leadership Confidence comes from within

To increase your influence and impact, it is imperative that you develop your confidence. Doing this will assist you to make better decisions, accept and respond to feedback effectively, and allow you to reassure your team. In the face of the challenges nonprofit organizations are facing today, these are keys to growth and prosperity.

In next week’s article, you will learn the two habits you need in order to grow your leadership confidence. The following week we will look at growing confidence in your team.

Remember: Emerging as a confident organization will set you apart from the rest.


Kathy is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership and find balance in life. She mentors women as they rediscover their purpose, passion, and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses, and the challenges of family life. In her signature program Women with Grit: Leading with Courage & Confidence, Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive change in their lives.



Leadership, Respect, and Innovation – Notes from the Action Generation Residency

Drew Noiles, Volunteer Alberta Learning and Technology Coordinator, attended the Alberta Youth VOLUNTEER! Action Generation Residency in Banff in August, a leadership learning opportunity for young people.

Forest2We live in a world progressively captivated by what it means to truly lead. The leadership residency assembled about 25 of us for a unique, hands-on learning opportunity with the ultimate purpose of developing our individual and collective leadership skills, all while savoring a humbling dose of mountain culture.

Our residency took place at the breathtakingly beautiful Banff Centre. Alliteration aside, it began with a simple introduction, an ice-breaker, and a quote:

“One of the challenges of being a leader is mastering the shift from having others define your goals to being the architect of the organization’s purposes and objectives” (Mary Parker Follett, 1919)

Taped on the wall were group guidelines and reference points on how to get the most out of our leadership residency. One of these guiding messages stood out to me; in a dark blue sharpie it simply stated: Be Fit & Well.

It’s a statement that I have now come to understand to be synonymous with stepping outside of your fears, and allowing yourself to be open and in the moment. There is a very welcomed perspective change – an epiphany if you will – that takes place when everyone in a room begins from a place of equality and respect. This was a delightful transition to which our group was receptive and enthusiastic.

Over the course of the next three and a half days we were fed. We were fed well, and we were fed often. Looking back, having that amount of delectable treats available to you at all times really does enhance the entire experience. Keeping spirits high and eagerness abundant.

There were many topics discussed throughout our stay. Starting with collaboration and coaching, leading into goal setting, and understanding the importance of prototyping. The leadership residency provided us all the opportunity to not only identify challenges, but to address them in a safe space.

The lessons from the leadership residency that I am going to incorporate into my daily work:

  • Listening is something you are accountable for; listening is a responsibility.
  • Fail. We should be encouraged to fail, but to fail fast.  Creativity comes from allowing yourself to make mistakes.
  • The truth: great leaders are needed to shape a better world; and that type of leadership is rooted in the understanding of both wise practices and creative new approaches.

By the end I was left feeling very much a part of a community that inspires one another to take risks, to develop new ideas, and to find solutions for the present and future. Because in the end, that’s what learning is: understanding something you’ve understood before but in a new way.

Drew Noiles
Volunteer Alberta


Alberta Provincial Budget – What does it mean for nonprofits?

Legislature 2On October 27, the new NDP Alberta Government announced the budget and revealed very few surprises. The NDP election platform is reflected in the Alberta budget.

Volunteer Alberta reflected on the budget and identified a few highlights – we have shared them with our members, and now are sharing them more broadly.

Thousands of Albertans gave their opinions through consultations leading up to Budget Day. Realizing that energy will continue to be the core of our economy, Albertans stated in the consultations that we need to diversify our economy and not remain completely reliant on the energy sector.

The three priorities outlined in the budget are:

  1. Stabilize public services – stabilizing frontline public services including health care, education and social services
  2. Plan a balanced budget
  3. Act on jobs and diversification – stimulating job creation, economic growth and diversification

What does this mean for the nonprofit sector?

The budget reflects the government’s commitment to family and community and services to vulnerable Albertans.

  • It includes a 25 million increase in Family and Community Support Services
  • $50 Million increase to Community Facility Enhancement grant budget and increases for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts
  • Job creation programs include a $5000 grant for new fulltime positions beginning January 1st 2016 which will support up to 27,000 new jobs each year, through to 2017
  • Nonprofit eligibility applies to the job creation grant. Also, STEP (Summer Temporary Employment Program) has been reinstated with $10 Million in 2016. This is a valuable nonprofit resource in supporting community based programs and services
  • In addition, $15 Million has been budgeted for women’s shelters to address family violence

For more information about the budget please visit the Government of Alberta 2015 Budget website.

Jennifer Esler
Volunteer Alberta

15 Tips to Get Sponsored – reflections from the Western Sponsorship Congress

static1.squarespace.comI recently attended the Western Sponsorship Congress two day event in Calgary. I met a variety of people, sat in on some amazing sessions, and heard great tidbits from the group chats in the main ballroom.

Reflecting on all I heard, I went through my notes and found 15 insightful tips, trends, and insights to keep in mind when considering sponsorship.

Brent Barootes from Partnership Group presented some very relevant information about sponsorship in today’s world.

1. Declines in traditional marketing channels (newspaper ads, TV commercials, etc.) has freed up more money in corporate sponsorship budgets.

2. Sponsorship budgets (on average) rose from 5% in 2007, to 25% in 2014 out of the marketing budgets of corporations.

3. Sponsors want to be fully integrated into the marketing strategy of your event, cause, or organization.

4. Corporations prefer product placement or brand placement (ex. at your event) to advertisements.

5. Many corporations are looking to engage their employees in new and innovative ways to showcase their company and deliver an increased return on investment (ROI).


6. Find a sponsorship partnership that excites you – this is just as important (maybe even more important) as the amount of money that exchanges hands.

7. Building a good relationship is a fundamental part of sponsorship – the discovery part of the relationship (the first few meetings) can help both parties understand the roles, outcomes, and responsibilities of the partnership.

8. Share your cause with potential sponsors. Sponsors are looking to align with causes that will help them make their world (community/market) a better place.

9. Consider video as a way to add extra value to your communications (campaigns, emails, website, or as a stand-alone awareness piece). Video is a great way to showcase sponsors and may attract a specific video sponsorship.

10. Think creatively and offer potential themes for you and your sponsorship partner to build the sponsorship around. (Instead of offering different sponsorship levels – see tip #11) Pick something that you and your sponsor can grow together, so their sponsorship can continue year-round and not end with a specific event.

In my opinion this was the MOST interesting and educational session of the whole event! The panel discussion, ‘One Size Doesn’t Fit All’ featured four representatives from different businesses (Telus, Cenovus, Remax Real Estate, and North Peace Savings & Credit Union) who shared what they look for when considering potential sponsorship opportunities.

11. Don’t spend time creating the ‘typical sponsor packages’ (Gold, Silver, Bronze) – they do not work because they are outdated and not tailored for mutual benefit.

12. Pick-up the phone when approaching smaller businesses (like Remax and Credit Union). Chatting about the problem, issue, or opportunity will help both parties see possible solutions. They may offer advice or steer you to the right “pile of money” and aide you in the application process – and help build the relationship.

13. Do your homework! Be well aware of a sponsors market, product, what they do, why they do it, and the reasons why they donate. (This is especially important for larger corporations. Most large corporations have online forms – tailor your online application with the information you discover in your research.)

Bonus Tip: If you know someone within the company, follow-up with an email or phone call to make them aware of your application.

14. Know your own stuff! Know your stats, your mission, your audience, and what your objectives are. Be well prepared for meetings – you will come across as genuine and credible. Show the company how they can help drive your mission and how it aligns with their own mission and business objectives.

15. Fair Warning: It will take anywhere from 22 – 24 months for a successful sponsorship deal to close from the initial meeting to money changing hands.

Productivity 3

These 15 tips, along with many others, made for an extremely informative conference and I hope some of you find value in the tidbits I’m sharing. I will be applying these tips in my work going forward. Please share in the comments what tips resonate with you and share if you are applying any of them in your work.

Jen Esler
Volunteer Alberta


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