CompassPoints of View

Helping Others “Walk the Path a Little Better”: Mentoring Volunteers to Build a Movement

Aimee Inglis is the Member Services & Volunteer Coordinator at Tenants Together, California's statewide organization for renters' rights. She was formally trained as a community organizer through the Midwest Academy's Organizing Intern program, and has started new volunteer programs in two non-profit organizations. In her role at Tenants Together, she trains volunteer counselors and manages the Tenant Rights Hotline, coordinates social media and online organizing efforts, and recruits new volunteers.

So You Want to Be an Interim Executive Director?

JR Yeager is a CompassPoint project director specializing in executive transition management, succession planning, and executive search. This blog addresses what anyone considering becoming an interim executive director (ED) should know about this fast-growing profession. It is the third in a series of blogs about the role and advantages of interim leadership. Read JR’s previous blogs in the series: “Interim EDs: Making a Good Thing Work for You” and “Top 9 Tips for Working with an Interim ED.”

Who Decides? Where Power and Strategy Intersect in Organizations


  Marissa Tirona     Shannon Ellis

In this second of two blog posts on individual and organizational strategy, Shannon Ellis and Marissa Tirona share their thinking about the intersection between organizational strategy and power. In Part 1, “On Purpose: Aligning Individual Purpose and Organizational Direction,” CompassPoint Senior Project Director Michelle Gislason discussed the connections between personal purpose and organizational direction.

On Purpose: Aligning Individual Purpose and Organizational Direction

In this first of two blog posts on individual and organizational strategy, CompassPoint Senior Project Director Michelle Gislason connects the dots between how determining your personal purpose can contribute to your organizational direction. In Part 2, Shannon Ellis and Marissa Tirona will explore the intersection between organizational strategy and power and privilege.

Top 9 Tips for Boards Working with an Interim ED

In the blog “Interim EDs: Making a Good Thing Work for You,” I wrote about the purpose and value added by engaging an interim executive director (ED) while you and other members of the Board of Directors step back and take some time to assess your organization’s current needs and prepare yourselves and the staff for working with a new permanent ED. In this post, I share my best advice on the Board’s role in this temporary relationship, focusing on how to partner with your interim ED and what to expect.

Finding My Compass as a Compassionate Leader

The Spark for the Post
I recently attended a talk on compassionate management with LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Wisdom 2.0 founder Seth Gordhamer. In the course of their conversation, Weiner made the case for compassionate management that focuses on the whole person, is grounded in empathic listening, and allows an employee to bring their “whole self” to their work. He also reminded us that it takes energy to work with people in a compassionate way. As a result, compassionate management has to be embraced by an entire company in order for it to succeed. He believes that compassionate companies are better positioned to thrive and so it is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do.

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An Introduction to Vertical Leadership Development

A few years ago the Center for Creative Leadership, among others, began to examine whether the field of leadership development is still meeting the needs of leaders given the rapidly changing landscape in which they now lead. As organizational boundaries slip away, systems and networks continue to become more complex and interconnected, and information remains ambiguous and non-linear, it seems a given that leaders need to continue to learn and develop - but perhaps they need to do so differently and with a different starting mindset for how they operate as leaders (and as cultivators of other leaders). Educators like Tony Wagner, Expert in Residence at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, began to reconceptualize how and what students learn given the changes described above. Looking at the distinct (but connected) fields of education and leadership development, these researchers identified a similar set of skills that contribute to effective leadership:

Professional Development and the 70/20/10 Rule

A few months after I started working at CompassPoint, I had the opportunity to take the course How to Develop Your Professional Development Plan. We increased our self-awareness through reflecting on previous jobs, proudest accomplishments, and even favorite childhood pastimes, and each workshop participant was encouraged to craft a “purpose statement” to guide our professional development planning. Mine sounded something like: “I want to work in a feminist and socially-conscious environment where people work hard AND laugh a lot, and where I can contribute to a team effort of making the world a better place.” Lucky for me, that’s a pretty good description of CompassPoint. 

Generative Thinking: The Board’s Highest Purpose

This is a “white water” time in health care. The historic Affordable Care Act is opening access to health insurance to our country’s most vulnerable people (except the undocumented), yet it’s also straining our already overwhelmed public health system. For Bay Area cancer service providers like the Women’s Cancer Resource Center (WCRC), where I serve as executive director, the layoffs and program closures resulting from the “Great Recession” and the exit of the American Cancer Society from direct service have brought additional, formidable gaps in fragile safety net services.

Spurred by this turbulence, our board stepped back from business as usual in 2013 to deeply consider the question: What is this board’s highest purpose?

How Will You Fail Spectacularly This Year?

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. They feel like a bit of a set up. However, several years ago my partner and I each resolved to fail spectacularly in at least one thing each year. We’ve attempted many things like career changes, learning a new skill or hobby, and bold organizational projects. We’ve even moved to a new state for the adventure of it (hello, Washington!) and adopted our son, Gus. Some of these things we’ve failed at (the success and joy from Gus is definitely not on that list).

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