Good morning everyone! Welcome to BOSS 2017! I am so delighted to see you all here at our 3rd annual BOSS conference: Building Organizational & Sector Sustainability.
Look at all the talent in this room. More importantly – look at all the potential in this room! Imagine what our organizations can accomplish if each of us had the opportunity to more fully develop our leadership. I’ll suggest this – improved stakeholder engagement, better staff engagement and retention, superior program outcomes, and increased financial sustainability. Ultimately, we would create stronger, healthier communities.
And what is what is required to unleash all this potential? Investment in time – we are busy and have multiple pressures and priorities. Investment in money – we are reluctant to spend money outside of critical programs or on overhead. Investment in commitment – to ongoing coaching and support and encouragement of each other. But if we made this investment, imagine what this will make possible for our sector?
When I was hired as the Executive Director for CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) Vancouver-Burnaby, I was charged with accomplishing a few key priorities, including working better with other local CMHA branches.
Formal collaboration had been discussed but was mostly stuck in the research and contemplation phase. An opportunity to bring the three local branches together presented itself through a growing fundraising event called Ride Don’t Hide. I used the event as a way to demonstrate that the local Branches could work together more closely. The Executive Directors had to meet regularly and negotiate an agreement on the often difficult subject of money. My hope was that if the branches could reach agreement on a topic as sensitive as money, they would learn how and if they could work together while building trust. The fundraiser also provided opportunities to build relationships between the boards.
I’m suggesting that we start asking for a different kind of support. Let’s ask our donors for the gift of capacity. What exactly is capacity? It is impact. It is resilience. It is sustainability. It is taking the time to invest in professional development for the people in our organizations.
Resiliency is often defined as the ability to overcome adversity. But it’s more than that. Resiliency is the ability to navigate challenge while being who you are. What do I mean by that? Think of a time you overcame something hard. You made it onto the other side. Did you feel proud or inspired? Did you get angry or say or do things you didn’t mean?