Compassion '13 emphasizes value of effective leadership

Annual round table held to help nonprofits thrive
Apr. 09, 2013 @ 05:25 PM

 The various aspects of leadership — and their practical applications for nonprofits — were the focal points of an all-day discussion for community organizations Tuesday

The Compassion '13 round table, held at the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center, was meant to enhance human services within Lee County and delved into understanding the differences and similarities between leadership and management. The fifth annual session, which was themed, "Built to Thrive: Nonprofit Leadership in 2013," was a joint venture by the United Way of Lee County and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce, according to United Way Executive Director Jan Hayes.

"Over the five years, we've had a round table to bring nonprofits, schools and churches all together to work more efficiently and effectively," Hayes said. Topics at the gathering have included understanding poverty, sharing resources, education, and this year, working on nonprofit leadership, she added.

Chamber of Commerce President Bob Joyce said he was glad to partner with United Way for the discussion.

"Strong nonprofits are essential to a community that is growing and prospering," Joyce said.

Led by nonprofit consultant Don Wells, the dozens of nonprofit and community leaders discussed their successes, failures and means of managing their core organizations.

"Leadership is about crafting a vision that captures passions to achieve the extraordinary," Wells said. "Management is about making that vision work."

The first portion of the daylong event revolved around defining leadership, including its downsides and possible conflicts.

"It can be demanding, and it can be lonely ... ," Wells said. "You are cultivating visions that come from deep within your values, and when they go south, it's not just that this idea went south, but also a part of [you]."

An audience member's question prompted a discussion about the generation gap between nonprofit leaders and staff, and different generations' communication styles.

"It's important to discuss technology and its uses at work, home and in your organization," Wells said. Younger staff members, who use text messages and emails to correspond with coworkers, can learn from older leaders about the value of face-to-face communication, he said. Conversely, he said, young staff members can bring an organization up to date with technology and help target different audiences.

After lunch, the group reviewed the fundamentals of committees, job descriptions of board members and the components of consensus.

Christians United Outreach Center of Lee County Executive Director Teresa Kelly said the information presented during the discussion was vital to the nonprofit community.

"It was a great opportunity to learn about board development and how to partner with others as a nonprofit," she said.

United Way volunteer and Volunteer Lee coordinator Ron Hewett presented a check to CUOC and Southern Lee High School, the organization and school that recruited the most people to the Volunteer Lee website. The website, www.volunteerlee.com, is used to connect civic organizations with volunteers.