The current CEO of one of my clients used to hold a different title: CEO of an international for-profit tech company. Part of the reason I took the contract was because I knew I would learn some new tricks about leadership.
Today’s lesson: how to save your nonprofit money and time by mastering the 10 minute phone call.
Contractor phones CEO and says, I need direction, here are my questions. CEO listens carefully to each question and replies with:
1) Exact description of what he expects to see delivered by me by the end of the week. When I say exact, I MEAN exact. Drawings and descriptions. I have seen him do this in meetings. I have surreptitiously slipped the scratch paper he leaves behind with the sketches into my folder when nobody is looking.
2) Clear directions for what are NOT my priorities this week…or at all. As anyone who has ever worked for, well, ANYONE knows, a good boss will confidently direct you to not do everything at once. This can especially be a trap in the fundraising world, where there are always tasks that need to be done to raise more money. This sounds like a no brainer, but I’ll bet in your head right now you are thinking about the boss you had who let you fail in the impossible task of doing everything at once.
The kicker? When I got off the phone with the CEO (now focused, clear, and ready for action) and looked to see how long the call had lasted? Shocker: 10 minutes.
We didn’t need to schedule any follow up meetings to answer my questions. We didn’t need to pull in any other staff at that moment. I suggested solutions to new issues raised in the course of the conversation – he approved or rejected them immediately. That, my friends, is not only effective management, but efficient as well.