Running a nonprofit is about balance. You must have both quantifiable skills and qualifiable skills so that you can identify your nonprofit's needs, understand the financials, and transfer those skills into helping others. Nonprofit executive search firms, like Scion Executive Search, are constantly on the lookout for people who can switch gears quickly, hobnob with potential donors, and crunch the numbers.
What Are Hard and Soft Skills?
Those hard skills include measurables like foreign language proficiency, accounting, computer programming, social media know-how, what degrees you hold, and how fast your hands fly across your keyboard. Equally important are the qualifiable, or soft skills, that tend to be subjective, like communication, teamwork, instinct, and making decisions on the fly. Today's executive talent pool mixes both with rank professionalism and artisan flair. You have to have eclectic talent and know how to use it. And make no mistake, executive search firms are taking notice of these 21st-century traits.
Getting Involved: Task vs. Team
Nonprofits are looking at talent who are willing to get down into the trenches and roll up their sleeves. The days of delegating from behind the desk are over. Just because you can clear every task off your to-do list each day does not make you a team player. There is nothing inherently wrong with being task-oriented. Quite the contrary, every nonprofit needs that kind of lighthouse keeper to keep the waters flowing and the money coming in. Communication is the key soft skill and communication is connectivity. If you cannot connect to your board of directors, office management, and your existing and potential donors, you might find yourself lost, behind, and feeling incapable. Although success is defined by many parameters, you should always strive to guide by a balance of task and team.
Can You Effectively Run A Nonprofit If Soft Skills Aren't Your Thing?
Most nonprofit executives understand that soft skills are beyond measure. Empathy, persuasiveness, flexibility and using them to your advantage to solve problems with an artisan's eye, are holistic skills that experience may never initiate. Does that mean soft skills are innate? Yes and no. You can learn to be a great communicator, to be a competitive self-starter, to be both collaborative and creative. Having these soft skills take the edge off the hard skills. They make you more approachable, able to transfer your knowledge to others with and to adapt to the newer social mores of the 21st-century nonprofit.