Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Packing up is never easy, I know, but I have to go

With my red marker, I write E8 on the top, short, and long sides of my moving box. In my notebook, I write down the number and exact contents: coaching, personal development, and psychology books.

It seems such a simple idea, but it would never have crossed my mind. I saw my friend do it when I helped her move three months ago. And mèn, I love knowing where my precious box from St. Petersburg, my party stuff, and my Rummikub game is.

My husband suggests stacking the books in two columns on opposite sides of the box. That way you reinforce the corners and increase the strength of the box, avoiding total collapse in the middle of the move. I flunked science in high school, so that’s a great tip.

The New York Times quotes therapists and psychologists who share that moving is an intensely emotional experience: “It is filled with symbolism, the hope for new beginnings, crushing disappointments, loss, anxiety, and fear.”

I agree 100%. But packing and moving together makes it 200% easier. You can look at the challenges from multiple angles, build on each other’s ideas, and hold space for all the feelings that come up in the move.

Other things are easier too when you share the experience. The one thing that the participants in my Leadership Circle love the most is realizing that they are not alone in their struggles and challenges.

These are some of the issues that they have in common:

  • The overwhelm of facing the constant pressure of taking care of your team and moving the agency forward, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night to finish up,
  • How to deal with conflict within your team, or with your supervisor,
  • Grieving the loss of colleagues who you got close to,
  • How to balance being a professional and having feelings on the job,
  • Create support systems for your team so they don’t get burned out by trying to save the world.

You might have different ones. But I’m pretty sure that there are others like you who struggle with it.

In the first week of May, we start a new circle. Six bi-weekly sessions. Are you a person who contributes to others?

Schedule your free discovery session to talk through how you could help other nonprofit leaders.

P.S. Read the New York Times article about the psychology of moving.

P.P.S. This weekend we are moving into our new home, two houses down the block. But you can still reach out to me by phone and email: 512-589-0482 |

What does a birdfeeder have to do with being a leader?

Birdfeeders are great for attracting birds. With the right type of bird seeds, you get Northern cardinals, house finches, sparrows, American robins, Carolina chickadees, Carolina wrens, cedar waxwings, eastern phoebes, orange-crowned warblers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and yellow-rumped warblers.

Don’t think I’m some kind of bird wizard. I just use the Audubon app to identify my visitors by putting in their color, size, feeding behavior, and range of habitat.

I love the hussle and bussle around the birdfeeder. The live stream of bird interactions, altercations, hierarchy, courtship, and mentoring of adolescents is quite addictive.

When nothing is going on, I read the Audubon magazine to satisfy my bird craving.

As a result, I now know that the black-capped petrel’s habitat is the open ocean in the West Indies. It nests around steep forested cliffs. It used to nest in burrows on the level ground till exotic predators were introduced on their islands.

And I read about the dangers of birdfeeders. If you don’t clean them regularly enough, they collect molds that are toxic for birds. Shocked, I rush outside to take it down and clean it.

I never realized that the right kind of seeds is not enough to keep birds happy. If I hadn’t stumbled upon this article, I would never have known how unconscious I was of my own incompetence.

And I would never have become consciously competent if I hadn’t read their suggestions about birdfeeder cleaning.

Are you, too, unconscious of your incompetence? If it is about birdfeeders, you can click on the link to the Audubon website at the bottom of this email.

But if you suspect you have areas in your leadership role where you are unconscious of your incompetence, you need something else.

You can read a book about leadership, like The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge. You can explore your enemy images with Byron Katie’s Judge Your Neighbor worksheet. And you can seek feedback from your peers.

In my leadership circle for nonprofit leaders, you come together with five to seven other leaders. You share your struggles and wins. And you can ask them for feedback on your actions.

You might cringe thinking about receiving feedback because so often it is critical and judgmental, pointing out all your mistakes and faults.

No worries, in the leadership circles we agree that we respond more like the Audubon magazine: observational, informative, and empowering.

Participants in my current circle find reassurance that they are not the only ones struggling. They feel inspired hearing how their buddies deal with those challenges. And they value the feedback that helps them be the kind of leader that attracts the right team members and keeps them safe.

Schedule your free discovery session to explore how the circle might help you become more consciously competent.

And this is the Audubon website. Be careful, you might get hooked!

“It’s okay to be white.” Really?!

There’s a Ziploc bag on our lawn. With a stone in it. And a leaflet. “You don’t have to feel guilty because you’re white”.

I see one on my neighbor’s lawn too. And on Gloria’s. And Gregg’s. And Matt and Mei’s, and their four and six-year-old daughters. I pick them up one by one, I don’t want the girls to accidentally see them.

Some have the most egregiously racist cartoons I have ever seen. Worse than the ones I’ve seen from the early 1900s. Some have a swastika. A white mother, her blond hair braided in typical nazi style, holding a white baby. Underneath it: “Stop white genocide”. Sender: the Aryan Freedom Network.

My amygdala is running in overdrive, triggering my flight reaction. My prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are taking a back seat.

I text some trusted neighbors for advice. Within minutes, it is reported to the police and the Anti-Defamation League. Two hours later we have an impromptu neighborhood gathering with our council member Kathie Tovo.

When I arrive, I see some 40 people in the circle. Kathie shares that we are not the first neighborhood to be hit with these hate bombs. My neighbors respond resolutely that we will do what it takes to keep our neighborhood free from hate, racism, and white supremacy.

When I summarize what everyone has said, it is clear which actions we agree on.

We put up signs “Neighbors United Against Hate” and “All Are Welcome, Except White Supremacists”. A group app is created to keep each other informed. We reach out to those most at risk. A meet-and-greet is adopted as common practice.

When I leave, I feel so grateful that we came together to listen to each other, generate new ideas, and came up with a plan.

You too might benefit from the wisdom of others: your neighbors in the nonprofit world.

Your rock will be different than mine.

It can be a CEO who is constantly pushing through new policies and pushing out your colleagues as a result. Or the nagging thought that you don’t bring enough of yourself to your team. Or the hours you spend to resolve conflict within your team.

But like the Ziploc bags, there are overall similarities between them.

Wouldn’t it be nice to talk to people who have had a similar experience? Someone who can listen and maybe share how they responded?

Coming together won’t change your situation, but it can be so empowering and relieving to know you’re not alone.

The Leadership Circles for nonprofit leaders offer that. In April I start a new one. Contact me if you have an interest.

Schedule your interview here.