Creating Our Climate- Larry Smotroff

Editable vector silhouettes of four people painting a blank wall different colors with copy space

July 11th, 2017

Creating Our Climate

During a recent visit to a health center I was struck by the organizational climate I encountered.   It had been some time since every person with whom I came in contact exceeded my expectations!  It was so distinctive and remarkable that it gave me pause.  The experience started me thinking about other places I had recently been where passion and dedication were significant factors contributing to an engaging climate; most notably a school and a library.  It also started me thinking about my work with non-profits and how passion and dedication were not the only driving forces needed to create that amazing climate that stops you in your tracks and makes you smile.

All organizations create a climate and establish a culture, naturally, out of hard to see elements like a person’s attitude or communication style.  The elements that create an engaging climate always influence the nonprofits effectiveness, for better or for worse.  We have all seen that keen interest in the other person’s eyes and felt compassion in their voice.  Alternatively, we have also experienced the opposite in the form of cold indifference to our interest or concern.

Have you taken time to consider how the climate of your nonprofit may be impacting your success?  It might seem like an elusive idea, but it is really pretty simple. It is the sense you have, that positive regard, or indifference, you feel when you interact with the leaders, the staff or the volunteers.  Those interactions indicate that you are valued, respected, and appreciated (or not) and contribute to a sense of trust and confidence.  How you are “greeted and treated” does matter; it reflects the attitudes, beliefs, and motivations of the organization.

To get to the heart of the phenomena, a nonprofit’s climate echoes volumes about the leadership’s impact on the enterprise and its services.  Leaders contribute to a climate with their distinctive qualities and characteristics.  Was it a great experience? Or a not-so-great experience?  How does the climate, driven by the behavior of leaders, transform the staff and volunteers who deliver the programs and services to clients, patients, and community stakeholders?

Your climate, unlike the natural climate, does not have to be unpredictable. Your leaders can create an organizational climate that captures the imaginations of Board members, staff, volunteers, clients, and community.  Are your nonprofit leaders conveying enthusiasm, trust, a spirit of helpfulness, a commitment to service, and a responsiveness to changing needs?  There are many leadership models out there; one framework to explore, adaptive leadership, offer tools for capacity building, progressive engagement, and enhanced effectiveness. It offers methods for reflection and opportunities to fine-tune attitudes and interactions.

Do you want to achieve a special mix of values and behaviors? Try leveraging your passion for the mission and be a catalyst that transforms and strengthens the board, staff, and volunteers.  Dig deeper into your adaptive leadership skills to re-discover how everyone in your organization can help re-define the climate, impact operations, and contribute to a climate of community engagement and collaboration that exceeds expectations every time.