Putting an End to Mission Creep
And while nonprofit staff and leadership greatly appreciated the advice on how to avoid mission creep, board members asked a key question that we did not get to cover in that initial article: “What if we’re already dealing with mission creep – how do we respond?”
So, in this article we are going to address mission creep from that perspective. What do you do when mission creep is already happening? How can you recognize it? And what do you do to stop it?
What does a Nonprofit COO Do?
In the past it tended to be an informal position held by another leadership executive that was the Executive Director’s go-to person for help, but because more is being asked of Executive Directors these days there is a greater need for a more formal nonprofit COO role now to help handle these added expectations.
From 2020 to 2022 we saw what became known as “The Great Resignation.” That means that as some leaders left their leadership posts, others took their places. By now though, for some of those new leaders, the honeymoon may be coming to an end. They can no longer blame the previous leader for “leaving a mess.”
Listen up: It’s time for some real talk. If you have been dealing with that “mess” for over a year, it is now YOUR mess that you haven’t taken care of. New leaders who came in with promises of new directions, contacts, and results are now at a point where board members will start asking, “Where’s the Beef!?” (Look it up! It’s a dated pop culture reference!)
The weight of the toll depends largely on the nature of the work being done, with nonprofits in the social services-type spaces (addiction, sex trafficking, domestic abuse, homelessness, food insecurity, etc.) carrying the heaviest weights. However, regardless of the focus of the mission, employees in the nonprofit sector working for the betterment of people, animals, the environment, or the community at large, all bring home some measure of emotional baggage as a result of caring so much, so often.
An Open Letter to Nonprofit Boards: Get to Know Your Leadership Personally (or Risk Them Failing Professionally)
The result is a deeply personal imprint on an individual’s professional leadership style. Find out why this matters and how nonprofit boards can use this information to drive organizational success by connecting with leadership better.
This can be an incredibly difficult question to answer!
Anyone in the nonprofit space can give you examples of wonderful collaborations they have been a part of where the outcome was far greater than either organization could have achieved on its own. These collaborative wins are fuel for high impact nonprofit missions – the veritable magic that can make 1+1=3 …or 4 …more.
And yet, anyone involved with nonprofit work can also give you examples of when collaboration was an organizational killer – the precipitating factor that derailed an organization’s mission, culture, or effectiveness. Collaborating on the wrong projects or executing collaborative efforts poorly can result in mission creep, stretching an organization too thin and diluting their impact.
Why? One primary reason is that organizational leaders are being impacted at unprecedented levels by uncertainty and upheaval within organizations and in our society broadly. As the International Coaching Federation’s 2022 Consumer Awareness Study states, "In times of great change, and increasing pressures and demands, coaching is only seen to be more relevant."
But why are so many more organizations turning to coaching? Can't consultants offer the same kind of services? Let’s look at ways that they differ and how they can complement each other.
Cinematically, it is poignant and stirring, but we soon find out that he has not made proper preparations for his departure, including finding a safe place for the iconic ring of power.
Unlike Bilbo, I often think about how to “leave well” because of my role as an Interim Executive Director. But regardless of whether you are an entry-level or executive hobbit, leaving well is a valuable skill to develop.
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