Step Up Your Game

October 2, 2018

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Written By: Bruce

By Bruce Berglund and Lora Dow

It was day two of the Global Leadership Summit and the first speaker of the day was Rasmus Ankersen, a young soccer team owner from the Netherlands. Our expectations weren’t high. What could he have to teach us about leadership or how to help our clients succeed?

Turns out, he had a lot to teach all of us.

Using stories and statistics from the English Premier League (as well as from Lego and Nokia), Ankersen explained how focusing on the wrong data can be a devastating mistake in business and in sports.

It can also be a devastating mistake for non-profit leaders

Outcome Bias

“We assume that good results are always the consequence of good decisions and good behaviors or performance.”

When things are going well, we’re usually eager to take credit. But how much of our current success can be attributed to our good decisions and how much is due to other factors outside our control?

Market conditions, timing, the civic mood and more all contribute to our results. When the results aren’t good, we’re ready to blame those external forces. But do we give enough weight to those factors when things are going well?

Eliminate Blind Spots

“Treat success with the same skepticism as failure.”

When you succeed, do you know why? Since recovering the stock and housing market crash of 2008, the economy has been performing pretty well. In fact, many sectors have been performing very well for many years. Is your current fundraising success due to the appeal of your case and the relationships you’ve built, or the affluence of a few in this bull market?

Look around at your community. Which sectors are performing well and which ones are vulnerable to a market crash or correction? What about your donor base? Are there clusters of your major donors all in a certain industry or age group? Are those groups vulnerable to sudden change?

Reduce the Role of Luck

“The more chances you have to score, the less luck (randomness) plays a role in the outcome.”

How many shots on goal do you take? Activity leads to results. If a few lucky lightning strikes have bolstered your numbers lately, what can you do to create a more well-rounded approach? How can you broaden your conversation with a multitude of donors, creating more chances for a gift to be given?

Measure Carefully

“Don’t confuse good market conditions with good leadership.”

What are you measuring? When you focus on money and not behavior, it gets really easy to make short-term instead of long-term decisions. Can you expand your focus to look at your donor pipeline? To plant seeds for planned gifts? To encourage younger leaders to join your board or committee? If you’re playing just to the end of the fiscal year (or worse, the end of the quarter) you won’t be prepared for the next game.

 

As 2018 comes to a close, what can you do to step up your game?

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One response to “Step Up Your Game”

  1. John C Alexander says:

    Excellent advice, Bruce. Being at the right spot at the correct time is not a good measure of success. and as you recommend, be skeptical in both failures AND successes.