by Peggy Forrest
Most of us would agree that any organization’s ability to successfully carry out its mission is tied to the quality of its leadership. Be that a President, CEO, or Executive Director - the effectiveness of that person’s leadership, makes a difference. So, it’s easy to understand why it is mission critical to ensure the next leader will be the correct one, and the transition from one leader to the next will be as smooth as possible. This is especially true in maternity housing because of the deeply personal nature of the work. Leadership transition is critically important, and having a plan guiding that effort will help reduce the stresses which accompany such a transition. Succession planning takes focus and effort. It involves the Board of Directors working in partnership with the current leader.
A succession plan has three main goals:
A succession plan contemplates:
A succession plan should include:
Regardless of the age of your Agency, or the tenure of your leader, succession planning may be a timely and important topic to address during your Agency’s next strategic planning efforts.
Listen in to a podcast from Mary Peterson and Emily Prins on the same topic of succession planning!
Heartbeat International has additional information related to succession planning in our Governing Essentials Manual. Click here to find out more.
by Robin Fuller
Robin Fuller will be presenting a workshop on this topic (An Essential Culture of Trust) at the 2021 Virtual Conference. Click here to learn more!
Trust on a team is critical, especially inside of a pregnancy center. If wondering whether or not you have a culture of trust, it may look something like this:
Trust on the team abounds. Each person is clear about their own job and doesn’t do the job of another team member. I trust you to do your job and you trust me to do mine. There’s no worrying about whether or not things are getting done because there is good reporting. No one is wondering if there is talk going on behind the scenes or behind one another’s backs, because we trust each other to speak honestly and clearly, and to handle conflict and confrontation early. Humility abounds, and staff is invited to speak freely. There may be intense conversations within a meeting, but everyone has the chance to be heard. Once a decision is made everyone gets behind the decision and there is no grumbling or complaining afterward. Conflict, when there is trust, is simply people trying to discover the truth so the best possible solution can be found.
Building trust starts with the leader. Here are some basic building blocks for creating a Culture of Trust:
If you’d like to build a culture of trust on your team, these are some ways to begin.
Robin Fuller, as a professional coach, walks alongside ministry leaders and helps them finish well. Her 23-year experience as a pregnancy center director, combined with her personal story and passion for the unborn, make her the perfect fit for any pregnancy center leader wanting to improve their leadership skills and plan for a great finish. robinfuller.coach
by Tamara “Tammy” Hall, M.ED
Tamara Hall will be presenting a workshop on this topic at the 2021 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in Columbus, OH. Click here to learn more about all Conference options.
“STOP, DROP AND ROLL” If ever we are on fire, these words of warning are so engraved in our subconscious that our survival instincts will spring into action, sending us rolling to the ground. The three simple words, although rarely needed and arguably dramatic, are indeed life-saving techniques.
I find it an irony of adulthood that the childhood commands, “stop, drop and roll” have morphed into oft used, although ineffective, tools for those facing personal, financial and spiritual trials. Overwhelmed and under-appreciated, many workers and volunteers emotionally revert to an updated version of the childhood directives:
Stop communicating out of fear of offending anyone, even those we love.
Drop out of activities we previously enjoyed and responsibilities we previously embraced.
Roll into a figurative fetal position of fear and inaction.
And yes, these behaviors might temporarily smother the flames but they will not extinguish the fire. 2020 with its polarizing political rhetoric and the COVID pandemic exacerbated our stress levels like athletes binging on steroids.
Given the seriousness of today’s topic, you may wonder why I added the somewhat humorous sub-title, “Burnout is not a Way to Keep Warm.” The answer is simple: people learn more and retain longer if they are enjoying themselves. Discussing even serious topics with laughter does not minimize the pain of a life out of balance. But like the proverbial spoonful of sugar, laughter does help the medicine go down. And most importantly, it’s biblical: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs: 17:22).
Trust me friends, you do not want dry bones. It’s a sign of death. You show me a person who has lost their ability to laugh and I’ll show you a person who is on emotional life support.
At the height of the COVID epidemic, pro-life workers, volunteers and leaders were defined by many as “non-essential.” How demoralizing. How demeaning. Those who made, shipped and sold baby products were widely considered essential but the people saving babies were considered as disposable as the babies they were dedicated to saving. Our secular society offered political and financial support to abortion centers (aptly described in John 10:10 as, “The thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”) Meanwhile, the same people declared financial and political warfare on those who protect the very children God knitted together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). The definition of the pro-life movement as “non-essential” was designed to demoralize the very warriors who stand between life and death for the most vulnerable.
How sad. How crazy. How evil.
We are doing God’s work and we must cling to his promise that He will never fail us. He holds us tightly when we weep, He picks us up when we fail and He rejoices with us every time a precious child breathes his or her first breath.
When the burden of stress and burnout threatens to send your life spinning out of control, remember the new and improved version of Stop! Drop! And Roll!
Stop listening to the attacks of the world. Turn off the turbulent chatter and embrace the peace of a quiet prayer time. “Be Still and Know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.
Drop the unrealistic burden of being all things to all people. Focus on those things that glorify God, restore your family and clarify your calling.
Roll with the punches. God doesn’t promise us an easy life. What God promises us is far more valuable: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest” (Psalm 119:13).
God promises us eternal life. He promises to bring justice in His own way, in His own time. (…and lest we forget... Stop Drop and Roll will be totally ineffective against the fires raging around those who reject God’s mercy and grace.)
If you are a part of the pregnancy help community experiencing a struggle right now, please know this: Your burnout and discouragement are real and understandable. Your life is stretched and pulled like ill-fitting masks at a Zumba class.
Nonetheless, you must not give up or give in. God has called you to this work and he will equip you. One step at a time, one day at a time, one life at a time….you make a difference.
Tamara is an award-winning newspaper columnist, radio host and speaker. She has presented in 49 states and 8 Canadian provinces. She was a speaker for the Family Research Council DC Briefing and emceed for President Bush and President Trump when they visited Montana. Tamara authored the gift book, Motherhood: A Noble Calling. This book, beautifully Illustrated by Alora Foreman, is empowering women to embrace the miracle of Motherhood.
by Sue Baumgarten
Thinking strategically is not one of my top strengths. By nature, I’m a connector and a communicator, an activator and a mentor. But with almost 3 decades of board service, (respectful of term limits and built-in breaks) and also serving as an Executive Director for a few years, I am no stranger to Strategic Planning. And, I currently serve on the National Maternity Housing Coalition (NMHC) leadership council and we’re in the middle of Strategic Planning as I write this.
by Andrea TruddenDirector of Communications & Marketing, Heartbeat International
There is no I in team, but there is me.
This is a silly take on a saying that we have all heard since little league. However, it is an important part of team leadership training. Hear me out.
When you invest in yourself to become a better leader, you need to take that “me” approach because you’re diving into the core of who you are and how you lead. You discover new ways to become a better leader.
And when you become a better leader, everybody around you benefits.
If you have attended the Leadership Track of our Pregnancy Help Institute, you know the importance of investing in yourself to directly impact the lives of those you interact with daily. Understanding how to truly hear people and how to effectively communicate helps alleviate many potential misunderstandings. It also allows you to intentionally connect with people and pour into their lives.
From our home to the office, our spouses, children, and colleagues all receive the nurturing care that true leadership training provides.
As a team here at Heartbeat, we recently completed the Whole Intentional Leader Development (WiLD) program, an online set of tools that “builds self-awareness, connects the dots between who you are, why you are, and what you do, and scaffolds the transformational conversations necessary to prepare you for the road ahead as a leader and as someone called to make a difference in the lives of others. that is available to both individuals and teams.”
While on my own, this would have impacted my specific leadership style – going through the program together allowed us to share this experience and grow as a team.
We are blessed to have a strong leadership team here at Heartbeat. We are a mixture of introverts and extroverts, men and women, millennials and baby boomers. Utilizing our (in some cases, very different) strengths for Heartbeat, allows us to lead it effectively. A good team utilizes the strength of each individual within it.
I will admit, I enjoy learning. If you look at my bookshelf, there are several books on leadership and parenting. Coincidentally there are a lot of the same lessons within each. However, to be honest, I was hesitant to walk through a leadership program as a team as it would require a certain degree of vulnerability.
Throughout our time together, there were a few weeks when we were asked tough questions. Well, I thought they were tough questions.
Many of my colleagues answered these very easily and seemed to know the exact answers. Questions that I struggled deeply with, they were laughing about and offering answers at will!
These moments were a bit intimidating. They were also moments of growth.
Because of the trust I have with my team, I admitted when I struggled. This opened the door to some amazing conversations that both helped me grow personally, but also enlightened others to the fact that a few of us, in fact, were on a different experience level, and perhaps we needed to focus a bit on certain leadership areas.
Walking through the WiLD program together was a good reminder that depending on our age, experience, and/or personality styles, we are all unique individuals utilizing our individual strengths to achieve a common purpose.
We do not lead at Heartbeat with an iron fist. We work together as an effective team with an open-door policy. Walking through a leadership training together reinforced the importance of transparency.
By trusting one another and walking through this activity alongside one another, we were able to lift each other up, strategize to overcome obstacles, and plan effectively for the future.
This is not a first for Heartbeat, nor is it a last. We believe in investing in ourselves to grow as individuals because we know that when we as leaders of the pregnancy help movement take time to nurture those around us, we inspire! And when we inspire others, we change the world!
Heartbeat has an exclusive offer for U.S. affiliates in good standing. Heartbeat International is partnering with WiLD Leaders to provide this professional training for pregnancy help leaders to advance their leadership skills. Working with WiLD Leaders, Heartbeat-affiliated Executive Directors, Presidents and CEOs can delve deep to grow as individuals and lead intentionally. Learn more.
by Chet Scott, Built to Lead
Courage, it’s been said by many, is really the first of the virtues because without it none of the others may be evoked. Today, I ripped my client a new one because he was caught in the downward spiral of blaming the King for his plight. You see, he sees his partner as his King. Most of us humans see someone in our work/life as THE man and cower in fear. My client needed a lesson in courage, so I gave him one and it was not nice. I used some colorful language to get his attention and asked him if wanted to be led around for the next thirty years like a miniature mouse, or did he want to learn how to stand like a man. We ended our practice with him deciding it was time to man up and simply stand.
Most of us need to learn how to stand.
Standing does not mean you get even, angry, or even whole as a result. Standing means you simply live your core and release the catastrophic fear around the outcome. You and I will someday die. Make it a good one when it’s time. Do not go out begging for more time, another chance, or whimpering/complaining about your King. Go out like Tecumseh, singing your song.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion, respect others in their view, and demand they respect yours. Love your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise one to fools and robs the spirit of vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.”
Courage is not the absence of fear, it’s knowing and loving someone/something just a little bit more. More love is the enabler of courage. More love.
Live hard. Love harder. Good…
This blog post originally appeared at the Built to Lead blog. We are grateful to have this executive coaching program that has trained CEOs, presidents, and ministry leaders nationwide guide our Leadership Track at Pregnancy Help Institute each year. Join Chet, his team, and us for this year's unique virtual experience of Pregnancy Help Institute!
by Beth Diemert, Ministry Services SpecialistHeartbeat Internaitonal
As The Pregnancy Help Institute 2020 New Director track is quickly approaching, it is only natural to reflect back to my own journey as a new Executive Director and remember the path I walked. All these years later (we won’t mention it being 30!) I am so thankful for the blessing it is to realize, that though “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” the Lord had me and led me every step of the way. If asked now, what would I suggest to that young director me, here’s what I would say.
A Letter to my 20Something New Director Self,
I am writing to you from the future, a place of time and distance that provides a great deal of perspective. I’d like to share some wisdom I’ve learned with you. I hope through the rear view mirror, I can help you see 5 key things that will help you blaze that trail you were meant to forge, and fulfill your destiny!
You are about to embark on the greatest journey on the planet. It will be a wild adventure! Picture this: When the Indiana Jones “rope swing” vine presents itself to provides a way across the wide cavern, in the dense jungle, jump on, hold on, and swing to the other side. Abide! Squeeze as tight as you can and let it take you there. It is the sole purpose for its existence. You can’t get there on your own! Don’t even try. And remember, the fruit you will taste on the other side is sweeter than you can ever imagine!
There can be no doubting. No self-talk that says, “Who Me?” No thinking that any day now, the board is going to call and say, “We’ve made a mistake.” You need to be 100% convinced and committed to “God chose me!” Know and believe that Lord searched the world over and picked you to do this job with purpose.
So much of what you need is already out there. Take advantage of it and don’t waste time reinventing the wheel. Gain knowledge and be a life-long learner. Connect with those who want to be there for you, provide a sounding board, build you up, and encourage you. We need each other! Don’t ever consider this a weakness. It is how you are designed.
Those hopes and dreams inside of you were put there by a loving Father. Pursuing your passion wholeheartedly can have life-changing outcomes for many. And always know that God is only good. Trust his leading, even if it looks in the natural to be crazy! Go for it! If you struggle here, refer to #1.
Do not let fear or worry steal from you. Don’t dim what God has intended for your life by playing it safe. Take the mercy that is new every morning, care for yourself along the way, and delight in every good gift. This is the abundant life and you can live it. Oh, the places you’ll go!
You can do this. God is with you. Believe me. I remember.
Do not forget these guiding truths for leaders who are leading anything in a time of crisis.
Great leadership understands the complexities of their system and has crystal clarity of their overarching vision, their aim. Great leadership knows why it matters and lives their purpose with passion, patience, and relentless pursuit of excellence. Great leadership has five to ten unifying strategies that make the complex understandable and actionable. Great leadership focuses themselves and their teams on clear, concise, direct PA (productive action).
During crisis, leader, remember to understand all the complexities in and around your system. Be a master at making the complex on top, simple on bottom. Master clear, concise, direct communications. Humans hear horribly in crisis so keep it simple when talking with them. “Stop this. Focus here. Never stop attacking.” Anybody can make the complex complicated. Your job is to take the complex and make it simple for your team to act. Ambiguity is the enemy. Clarity is key. Make sense?
Live hard. Love harder…
Chet Scott is part of the Built to Lead Team. Built to Lead works with the Leadership Track at Pregnancy Help Institute each summer. This article originally appeared here at the Built to Lead blog.
by Tony Gruber, ControllerHeartbeat International
The coronavirus is perceived by many as the largest challenge our world has faced in many decades. In answer to that challenge, the United States has enacted the largest aid package in the history of the country – with a $2.2 trillion estimated price tag. Help and aid is being offered to individuals, businesses and non-profits.
We’re going to unpack many of these benefits in a webinar next Tuesday. However, we’d like to quickly highlight one opportunity because it won’t last long!
by Jor-El Godsey, LAS, PresidentHeartbeat International
“Stay on target!” is a familiar line from the first Star Wars movie. The small band of intrepid rebels were being exhorted to keep focused on defeating the planet-killing Death Star. All while being attacked by Darth Vader and his Imperial cohorts.
During “normal” times the mission of pregnancy help is facing a Goliath-like giant in Big Abortion and its flagship, Planned Parenthood. Of course, these days impacted by COVID-19 (or at least the anxiety surrounding it) are far from normal. There is a very present need to reach and rescue as many lives as possible.
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