Growing your cultural intelligence

The Elevate Leadership podcast is an 8-part podcast series in which Mergon Foundation’s Neil Hart speaks with distinctive leaders on what it takes to lead healthy organisations today. Each episode contains fresh, inspiring insights into how leadership can pave the way for long-lasting organisational health and impact.

In an episode entitled ‘Growing our cultural intelligence’ Neil Hart speaks to author and speaker Afrika Mhlope on the topic of culture and leading cross-cultural teams. Afrika unpacks the complexities of culture and how they shape our beliefs and ultimately determine our behaviour. Here’s what he has to say in this episode of the Elevate Leadership podcast. 

Growing your cultural intelligence

By Afrika Mhlophe

What is culture?

What is the difference between beliefs and culture? Though beliefs and culture aren’t the same thing, Afrika notes, they are interlinked. ‘Every cultural system has beliefs within it. Beliefs are the anchors that carry the culture through from one generation to the next,’ he says.

Afrika uses the analogy of a house to represent culture. ‘The foundation of the house is our beliefs – ’, he explains, ‘what people believe to be true of the world, of life, creation, eternity, destiny and purpose. Each cultural system answers three basic philosophical questions in life: ‘Where do I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?’ How they are answered is determined by what that particular culture believes to be true. Therefore, a person’s behaviour is a result of their beliefs and the foundation of their culture.

The complexity of leading cross-cultural teams

Understanding culture is hugely helpful, especially when it comes to leading cross-cultural teams. Having to lead across cultural lines no doubt adds a level of complexity to how we lead. Cultural clashes are inevitable because people come with different beliefs, worldviews and values. The more that leaders step outside their paradigms and seek to understand these differing views, Afrika notes, the more fruitful their leadership can be.

Letting go of beliefs that are incompatible with our faith

The challenge, Afrika says, is letting go of beliefs that are incompatible with our faith: ‘As Christians, we ultimately want people to understand that they cannot hold a belief on an issue as tight as they should hold their faith on that issue. If we are in the family of Christ, His Kingdom culture needs to override our own culture and we need to turn to Him before we turn to anything else that seems natural in our own culture.’

Often we don’t know what these beliefs are until a key moment occurs such as a trauma or unexpected loss. It’s in these moments, when seeking comfort and solace, that we reveal the true state of our affections and the fundamental beliefs that determine our source of hope. In a cultural context, Afrika says that leaders need to find out what those things are that people are holding onto and why.

‘Look for an opportunity to speak into those things, ask questions and challenge the things that people hold onto, habitually turn to, celebrate, honour or trust in when they say they think God should be the centre,’ he advises. ‘The more difficult the conversation is, the stronger the relationship ought to be. It’s the strength of a relationship that gives power and authority to speak into certain areas.’

Bringing the gospel message into a multicultural environment

It’s dangerous to stay ‘married to the familiar’ – to your way of interpreting life and the world, notes Afrika. What you know of the world is influenced by your own history and culture, and therefore what you know of life is not necessarily true of how others see life.

Diversity adds tremendous richness to a team. Diversity refers not only to racial diversity, but diversity in thinking, perspective, gifts and talents. Being intentional about diversity can be painfully difficult, but, Afrika urges, ‘push through the pain’. As followers of Christ, we know that the Kingdom, by its nature, transcends all things. When Christ gave the commission to go into the whole world and make disciples of all nations, He certainly knew the difficulties that would go with it. But He also knew that the power of the gospel would transcend those issues.

Knowing ourselves by knowing Christ

‘To know who you are, you must know who you are not,’ says Afrika. ‘You discover what is true of you when you remove what is false of you.’ Jesus shows an example of that by identifying who He was before He started his ministry. His ministry never defined what He did. In the beginning of His ministry, there was the word from heaven where God said, ‘this is my beloved Son with whom I’m well pleased, hear Him.’ Jesus ministered from sonship, not from servanthood.

In the same way, he notes, leaders can only lead healthily when they know their identity in Christ. The gospel brings a restoration, not to a certain cultural status, but to the image of Christ. When we find equal and secure footing at the cross, others’ differences do not derail or threaten our leadership – they expand us. When Christ is our ultimate Validator, and not the public platforms on which we serve, then cultural diversity can be warmly welcomed. Humility paves the way for new learning, and we grow together with the gospel as the great leveller.

Listen to the full podcast episode here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6XGNitcR8pc4nkefxj4Wjt?si=d1b8a7b4de454e8c (also available on all other major podcasting platforms such as Apple, Google and Overcast)

Watch the episode on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reW2kI6nOu8&t=34s

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018 Mergon Group.

5 prayers to pray over your business

Looking to the year ahead, prayer is a habit we can cultivate and grow with confidence. In this article Neil Hart of the Mergon Foundation shares from his own personal experience how focused prayer for his work and colleagues unlocked provision, strategic vision, and a deep sense of satisfaction in the workplace. Here are 5 prayers to pray over your business this year that will help strengthen your team, stay the course and move into the unimaginable together.

5 prayers to pray over your business

By Neil Hart

 

Pray for your employees

Something changed in my business the day I began to realise that I was the ‘pastor’ of the people who worked for me. I began to go in early, before anyone arrived, and lay hands on the chairs of my employees. I prayed for them by name, trying to hear God’s heart for them. I would prophesy over them and speak life. I soon noticed a growth in our people resources after this time. God began to do something significant from these prayers.

Pray for strategy

Who really knows where and how to lead their business? We can read all the books and dream all we want, but as we plan our steps God directs our paths. This is the important prayer of strategic direction. The Maker of heaven and earth knows the next step and the plans for five years’ time.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit,’ yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:13–17). Ask Him for direction and your strategy will unfold with greater precision.

Pray for wisdom

I remember a two-year period in my life when I prayed the prayer for wisdom every single day. I just believed God and His word: “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously” (James 1:5). No wise person writes an article telling people he is wise! But I can tell you that I have had wisdom added to my life in ways I cannot explain in human terms. God is faithful, and every business desperately needs wise leaders.

Pray that you can walk by faith

Nothing matters more in life than learning to walk by faith. Despite the important need for wisdom, there is a higher need to walk by faith. My “righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38). Walking by faith is really hard yet so freeing. When God gives you a bold word for your business and you step out in faith and see something huge happen, it is wild and wonderful. Pray that God guides you daily to walk by faith and then incline your ear and your heart to hear Him.

Pray for the Kingdom to come near

I want to tell you an important secret… there is no point in running a successful business, if the business doesn’t have the Kingdom of God established in it. It will matter nothing at the end of time despite all your hard work. Tough to hear, but true. “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Matthew 6:16). In Luke 10 Jesus sends His disciples ahead to towns and cities where He himself was about to go. He tells them to heal the sick and say to those in the towns and cities, “the kingdom of God has come near” (Luke 10:9). It’s a great prayer to pray: “Lord, let your kingdom come [in my business] as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018 Mergon Group.

Disruption: resetting the now and gearing up for the next

 

Focusing on the theme of ‘Light in the Tunnel’, Nation Builder’s 7th Annual In Good Company conference brought together business leaders, social innovation experts and impact investment thinkers.

Within the lineup of thought-provoking speakers was CEO of The Strategists, Abdullah Verachia. In his talk entitled ‘Disruption: Resetting the now and gearing up for the next’, Abdullah gave his perspective on how to identify opportunities and capitalise on innovation in the midst of deep disruption.   

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused disruption across the world. ‘This new canvas is very different to the one we were accustomed to, so we need a new combination of colours to be able to paint on this canvas, as well as a new set of skills as painters,’ said Abdullah Verachia at the 7th Annual In Good Company Conference.

He explained that the canvas symbolises the external environment, in other words that which is happening politically, economically, socially, digitally and environmentally; while the colours symbolise the choices we make. ‘We have moved into a disruptive, digital world, underpinned by rapid shifts in every facet of society, and our choices will determine how we will emerge,’ he explained.

Three ways of thinking

His view is that amid the global, rapid adoption of digitisation and automation, organisations need to embrace three ways of thinking: First, iterative thinking, which refers to doing the same things better; secondly, innovative thinking, which refers to doing new things; and thirdly, disruptive thinking, which refers to doing new things which make the old things obsolete. By way of illustration, Abdullah highlighted disruptive trends in two sectors: commercial property and health care.

The commercial property sector has experienced disruptions which will have a long term impact:

1. The adoption of remote and hybrid working conditions necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic has caused organisations to downsize their office space, leading to a vast oversupply in this market. The reduced demand for office and/or manufacturing space has been exacerbated by the high number of business closures.

2. The investment potential of properties in the tourism industry has changed significantly. Tourism itself has been restricted due to various lockdowns, and the need for regular business travel has declined due to the increased acceptance of virtual meetings. This has had a negative effect on hotels, conference centres and leisure spaces, especially in urban centres.

3. There has been a tremendous growth in digital retail, and fewer and fewer people still opt for utilising physical retail spaces.

The changing nature of the health care sector can be seen in three major trends:

1. The first is the rise of ‘wellness’. Governments, health care professionals and the public are realising that they need to emphasise proactive, preventative health care, rather than rely on reactive health care.

2. The second is the growing importance of analytics as an enabler for making decisions. For example, the pandemic has proved the value of geolocation mapping and identifying big data trends. The key, however, is the ability to translate analytics into insights, and to then implement decisions based on the insights.

3. The third is the push towards universal health care. The current situation where 83% of South Africans are reliant on an overburdened public health care system is unsustainable, and there is a growing need for providing more equitable access to health care services.

In context of the above, how should we respond as organisations?

Four ways of expressing organisational culture

Abdullah argued that we should apply the three types of thinking to our organisational culture. He referenced the Denison Culture Model, which states that organisational culture is expressed in four ways:

1. Mission – Do we know where we’re going?
2. Consistency – Does our system align with our mission, and create leverage to get us there?
3. Involvement – Are our people aligned and engaged?
4. Adaptability – Are we listening to the marketplace, and do we have the ability to proactively adapt?

Looking at these four elements of culture through the three lenses of iterative, innovative and disruptive thinking, can reveal opportunities to take advantage of new trends and developments in any sector.

‘Strategy is as much about what we are going to do, as about what we are going to stop doing. Organisations don’t have unlimited resources. We need to ask the hard questions, and make the tough decisions,’ he said. ‘We focus so much on generating returns on assets and capital, but we don’t consider generating a return on time, which is our most valuable currency. We need to start thinking about where we spend our time, versus where we aspire to spend our time. And then we need to decide what we are going to start doing, do differently, or stop doing completely, in order to get us there,’ concluded Abdullah.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018 Mergon Group.

Chart the course, steer the ship

 

By Gideon Galloway

Gideon is the chief executive officer at King Price Insurance. King Price Insurance is a strategic asset in Mergon’s portfolio of investments.

There’s a saying: ‘When a student is ready, a teacher will appear.’ Over the years, I’ve learnt a lot from the teachers who appeared in my life, from church camp counsellors, to experienced mentors, to business leaders. Many entrepreneurial ventures down the line (some successful, some not so much) I still look for guidance. Everyone should.

Somewhere along the way, people also started asking me for guidance. I tell them that everyone can be a leader, irrespective of where they sit on the company organogram. Leaders live and work with integrity and have a purpose that others buy into. Leaders can’t be leaders without followers – and you can’t force anyone to follow you.

Leaders must lead. A leader’s job isn’t to please everyone; it’s to do the right thing, even when a decision that has to be made is going to be unpopular. Leading isn’t always going to be easy.

What are some of the lessons I learnt along the way?

Focus: I started lots of small companies that didn’t really take off, so I asked myself what these companies would be like in 10 years’ time. Then I focused on the ideas that would have a long-term payoff.

Vision: You should also be able to define ‘what’ you want to be; what your purpose is. People who know what you stand for, and who want the same thing, will help you to get where you want to be.

Partnerships: When choosing who to do business with, do proper due diligence checks.

Documents: Draw up proper legal documents upfront. Everything is great when you’re starting out, but you need to be prepared for when things go wrong – and they will.

Perseverance: Being an entrepreneur sounds glamorous but if you can’t work hard, as in 24/7 hard, then don’t start your own business.

Change: If plan A doesn’t cut it, roll out Plan B or C. Or even plan F. At King Price, we often say that we built the ship while we were already sailing, but we’ve weathered all the storms.

Risk: If you’re overly risk-averse, you probably shouldn’t start a business. With risks come rewards.

Balance: Do you need a perfect solution? Or do you need a solution now? Sometimes, a quick decision or a speedy implementation will be more important than a perfect solution.

Skills: The skills necessary to be a good leader? Good communication, active listening, showing empathy, building trust, leading by example, emotional intelligence. Also, an innate EQ is crucial.

Emotions: Managing your emotions means not only being aware of your feelings, but knowing how to deal with them. It’s a key skill for these crazy times and it’s a lot harder than it sounds!

Service: Being a leader is a calling. It’s much more than a job or something you train for; it’s part of your destiny and it starts young, by serving others.

If I learned anything during this coronavirus pandemic, it is that leading through uncertainty isn’t for the faint-hearted. In fact, the last 18 months are among the toughest periods of my professional life. Leading through constantly changing and uncertain times means that you have to be more agile and flexible, more connected than ever to your people and your clients, and more in touch with your authentic self. That’s true leadership.

This is a summary of Gideon’s chapter in the recently-published book, The Book Every Leader Needs to Read.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018 Mergon Group.

Want to lead well? Root yourself in Christ

 

By Adelaide Cupido

Adelaide Cupido is the founder of Yada Network and a member of the Ziwani community. In this article, she shares how her faith has been the ultimate roadmap for her career and has helped her to cultivate meaningful connections and lead better over time. 

Looking back on my three-year journey starting up Yada, I am convinced that finding my identity in Christ does make me a better business leader.

What does it mean to ‘find my identity in Christ’? Since 2015, God has taken me on a journey to show me what it means to be His. I now see more of who I truly am, based on what His Word says. I have been set free from slavery to sin because of Christ’s sacrifice. I am fruitful because I am plugged into an eternal, uncreated and perfect source. As a citizen of heaven, I am a beneficiary of God’s pleasure and promises. As an ambassador of heaven, I aspire to point to God and His Kingdom in all that I do. But most importantly, I know that I am loved – and this gives me the courage to live in this beautifully complex world, anchoring my hope in Christ, knowing that He is always with me.

Here are some of my experiences that point to how finding my identity in Christ has enabled me to become a better business leader.

1) I can overcome my inner saboteur with the help of the Spirit

 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).

 My last employer was an NGO, involved in establishing a social dialogue platform between commercial and emerging farmers, civil society, labour, and government to reimagine the local agricultural economy in five districts of the Western Cape, South Africa. Although I was supported by two strategic advisors, I was the one responsible for performing all the project-related work – which included regularly visiting the different districts, enrolling stakeholders through individual and community meetings, facilitating agreement on the need for a platform, putting together a panel, and ultimately training the panel to be able to host productive dialogue.

It was one of the most meaningful engagements of my life – a time where I felt that God had fully released my gifting. My monthly salary did not, however, enable me to support my family’s needs and I resigned in November 2017, with no financial reserves and no alternative employment.

With 2018 upon us, we needed groceries, not to mention school fees, stationery and uniforms. As I looked at a tin with R800 left, I asked: “What could I do now, without needing anything, to earn an income?” My skills that came to mind were facilitation, mediation and legal advisory services. So, I pulled out flipchart paper and started visually mapping out a possible business plan. My inner saboteur surfaced, badgering me with doubts: “Who did I think was to establish my own business? I was only good enough to be an employee, to earn a salary, to grow someone else’s vision. I don’t have the necessary networks. I don’t have access to money! Where would I even get work from?” My courage waned as the voice raged on, but another voice gently reminded me: “He anoints my head with oil, my cup overflows” (Psa. 23:5). I recited this verse repeatedly until I had finished the business plan.

Thereafter, I took my boys to our communal pool, still overwhelmed at the thought of starting a business. Our parents arrived, unaware of our reality, with a month’s worth of groceries. While speaking to them, I received a call with an urgent request for a week’s work, at my best rate. With this work completed and paid by the end of January 2018, all our needs were met, with some cash flow to generate more work.

Three years later, Yada had been successfully established, serving local and international clients. What’s more, I didn’t need to go look for work – I obtained the work not based on marketing, but on relationships nurtured and developed over time. My inner saboteur is ever-present, but is continually slain by God’s faithfulness. With God’s grace and provision, my cup overflows.

2) I see my work as worship

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ (Col. 3:23–24).

My work involves enabling groups of people to have difficult conversations – where there is a great deal of underlying conflict between two or more team members, or there are multiple stakeholders, all with different mandates and competing interests. During these conversations, there are always a few tense moments where we can either reach an impasse, or continue with productive dialogue. I am therefore intentionally and continuously reliant on the Holy Spirit to guide the process, and afterwards, there’s often someone who is curious about how I was able to help them navigate those moments. Their curiosity creates opportunities to speak about my faith in Christ, and about how the power of the Spirit is what makes my work possible!

There are also many difficult conversations across the business value chain, where we need to negotiate rates and levels of service – and discussions do get heated. If it were up to me, I would lose my cool and damage the relationships, but it helps to ask myself: “How do I do this, as for the Lord?”

3) I am intentional about fair value exchange in every business activity

 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure – pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return (Luke 6:38).

Partnering with other consulting firms, I have had to pay up to 30% of fees earned as a sub-consultant. Some consultant firms would also bill out my time at significantly lower rates than theirs, despite me being required to deliver the same levels of service.

Although I participate in an earthly economic system, my business values are set on biblical standards. I understand that in God’s Kingdom, there is a kingdom commonwealth principle – which means that the King is committed to seeing that all his citizens have equal access to wealth and resources.

A core value of Yada is that wealth is built on fair practices. This means that we do not levy fees on network partners when work is shared with them, or negotiate rates or service levels that will undermine their ability to access and create wealth.

We believe that our ability to respond to a client’s needs is strengthened when we operate in diverse, multi-disciplinary teams. Yada is plugged into an eternal and limitless source (God), therefore we operate from a place of abundance, and can act with fairness along our business value chain.

4) I integrate rhythms of rest in our way of working

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’ (Isa. 30:15).

For most of my life, the concept of ‘rest’ has not been modelled by caregivers, church communities, or leaders in my professional life. It was always about doing more, generating more work, attending more networking events, completing more degrees to become more marketable, pushing to achieve unreasonable targets. More time away from family and the things that refresh the soul. Less time for breaks, for rest, for sleep. Less time to commune with God. By 2016, after 11 years as a professional, I was burnt out. I was paid exceptionally well, but could feel the demands of work causing me to slip further away from God, further away from wholeness in life.

Since then, God has taken me on a journey of seeing His way of working and reminding me that even He took time to rest. I was also curious to see if my work rhythm could align more with the natural seasons. At a practical level, it meant that from spring to winter would be highly productive times, but that during winter, there would be more time for rest, reflection and restoration.

Despite God teaching me how to create more balance through rest, starting up Yada in 2018 required me to take on the ‘grind culture’ – or so I thought. There was nothing new about what I was offering, so what would set Yada apart was the way it delivered its services. This meant that I would take on unpaid or underpaid work to build Yada’s profile, would deliver more than was expected, and would collaborate broadly. I would work long hours and would always be available for new projects. By the last quarter of 2019, I found myself engaged in a process every week, away from home for up to 10 days a month, and sometimes facilitating on weekends. I had little time for my family, as I had to spend weekends debriefing and preparing for the next process. By March 2020, I was exhausted, but had work lined up for the rest of the year. Enter COVID-19 – the ultimate rest intervention.

Initially, it was overwhelming to understand that Yada’s productivity had cycles that were more attuned to seasons. During the first two years of operation, I had not caught on that God enabled a seasonal way of operating, and became anxious about income. Even though work slowed in the winter months, I would not use this time to rest and reflect, but would become obsessed with generating work. It was only in our third year that the lesson landed. And as the pandemic hit, I realised I could fully rest in God, because He had already prepared me for slower workflows and cash flows, ensuring that I remain fully dependent on Him as my provider. This meant that despite the economic crisis, I did not experience overwhelming fear or anxiety, but was anchored in the security of knowing that God is in control.

Embracing periods of rest has become a critical part of the Yada way. During these times, I can think about the work done, access learnings, ensure that I bring those insights into future work, and let go of practices that no longer serve Yada. It slows me down, ensuring that I am ‘response-able’ rather than reactive. I now enjoy looking at my calendar and seeing it a little empty – it creates space for God to show up, as the ultimate provider – He is the source of all my work. He directs the ebbs and flows of the river that is Yada, at His will and pleasure. When I am rested, I think better, make better decisions, I am present for myself, my family, partners and clients and this leads to all-round quality experiences.

These are some of the ways that finding my in Christ identity has shaped my journey as a business leader, and enabled me to approach my work as worship, pointing back to God.

Ziwani is Mergons latest initiative, a place of refreshment, community, and collaboration for Christian business leaders in Africa. It is a platform for business leaders to share inspiring stories, learn from one another and co-create resources. Visit https://ziwani.com/ for more info.

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018 Mergon Group.

11 dimensions of organisational health

 

Along with many other foundations across the globe, Mergon seeks to serve ministries in their pursuit of greater impact for the Kingdom of God. As a resource partner to over 100 ministries, we are keenly interested in the health of leaders and organisations as a means to understand their current mission effectiveness, and how to help them build capacity towards even greater impact.

In our most recent article on organisational health, we unpacked why understanding and evaluating perception is a key to unlocking organisational health. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Through a process of identifying and defining the key dimensions of a healthy organisation, Mergon developed an Organisational Self-Perception (OSP) Scan as a practical resource tool designed for NPO and ministry leaders. From each dimension, we identified five or more management practices; and for each management practice, we developed a statement to identify the visible occurrence of the practice.

In this article we will give a brief overview of these 11 dimensions from our OSP Scan. Keeping these dimensions in mind at all times can help a leader or management team to lead with better perspective, thereby enabling a healthier environment. If these dimensions aren’t healthy, or not within the view of the leader, it’s unlikely that the organisation will have the full impact it desires.

1. Healthy leadership

The first dimension of organisational health is leadership. There is no such thing as a perfect leader or a leader who is excellent across all 11 dimensions. All leaders have faults. However, strategic leaders are highly capable individuals who function as contributing team members with great management skills and lead with great humility. Humility breeds humility, and that in turn makes a leadership team function in a very healthy way.

2. Mission

Secondly, all organisations need a clear and compelling mission. Without this, it’s hard to recruit passionate team members who identify and carry the same mission deeply in their hearts. A clear mission comes from a clear vision. Vision is what we can see in our mind’s eye as the destination we are moving to. Mission is the statement that captures the fundamentals about how we will get there, said in a manner that evokes emotion and directs activities. Mission needs to be well communicated, understood, and even memorised by the whole team.

3. Talent

One of the essential ingredients for a flourishing organisation is to attract talent. Many organisations never fulfil their potential because they can’t attract or retain great people. What’s more, you don’t just need the right people; you need the right people in the right roles. A healthy organisation has the ability to acquire, develop and manage key personnel in such a way as to maximise impact while retaining employee satisfaction.  

4. Strategy

At Mergon we love to meet thinking organisations, those that carefully consider various ways to create impact and pick the best route forward. Strategy takes time and thoughtful investigation before it can be effectively applied. A good strategy is built on a well-researched theory of change and is evaluated according to realistic goals. A strategic organisation will often be innovating, expanding and diversifying. 

5. Brand and communications

Many organisations don’t know how to tell their own story. They are either disconnected from it or they are telling it badly. Leading organisations realise the importance of their brand and communications: their brand enjoys a healthy level of exposure that builds trust and communicates a clear value proposition to all stakeholders. These types of NPOs attract supporters, funders as well as people wanting to work for them. Their brand helps to build their resilience.

6. Funding

Within the life of an organisation, funding and sustainability are two inextricably linked concepts. There is certainly more to the sustainability of an organisation than just funding – factors such as its leadership pipeline, compliance and good governance all feed into the overall sustainability of an organisation.

A healthy organisation should establish an income model which considers suitable revenue sources and a fund development strategy to sustain the organisation through both short and long-term goals. Without healthy funding streams, an NPO won’t be able to operate at its full potential. 

7. Culture and values

An organisation’s culture is its collective personality. By the most basic definition, a team culture is made up of the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours shared by a team. A healthy organisational culture creates a positive work environment that nurtures personal development and drives meaningful work, trust, cooperation and self-responsibility. Leaders need to know how to shape culture, to nurture it, as well as to root out toxic culture, to enable human thriving. Healthy culture is one of the most important factors that stimulate innovative and energised work environments.

8. Systems, processes and technology

Systems, processes and technology are the skeleton of a thriving organisation. These allow for effective management of communication, data, and resources according to a structure of responsibility and reporting. They support strategy execution, ensure compliance and address risks. When technology and systems are poorly designed they draw energy inwards and slow down progress. Leading organisations create lightweight, effective processes and use technology to enhance mission.

9. Financial best practices

Just as conversations about healthy leadership offer needed perspective on the organisation, so too can reading financial statements and audit reports provide valuable insight into the health of an organisation. Good financial management practices consider solvency, liquidity and cost awareness throughout the organisation, including asset and risk management. Financial systems can be a great blessing, but too often we see the incredible burden they create when done poorly.

10. Board and governance

A high-performance board seeks to ensure that the organisational mandate is executed through qualified leadership, good governance and adequate resources, whilst maintaining accountability, and legal and ethical integrity. When there is a good rapport between the CEO and board chairperson, the board normally acts as wise counsel and becomes a wonderful support for the management team.

11. Impact evaluation

All too often there’s a discrepancy between an organisation’s strategy and its strategy execution. A healthy organisation implements a system of evaluating its hard work which ties impact directly to its theory of change, moving the organisation closer to its overall goal and defining both the quantitative and qualitative nature of the work. Impact evaluation informs strategy development, leading to clarity of thinking and execution.

From the perspective of these 11 dimensions, our hope is that management teams and leaders will understand how to lead their organisations forward, building capacity to create resilient organisations with greater impact. 

Please refer to our previous articles for more information on this topic:

All rights reserved. Copyright 2018 Mergon Group.