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Nice things come in small packages

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Helena Sharpstone | 4 December 2012

Working in a small organisation often means you have to be a jack of all trades. Helena Sharpstone shares her top tips on balancing operational and strategic demands to keep your organisation moving forward.

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If you are a fundraising leader in a smallish organisation you know you need to be a master of many trades.  You are expected to handle high level strategic and low level operational tasks with equal flair.  You burn the midnight oil preparing a pitch that will take your charity into horizons new, you win it and then you stop off at Tesco Express on the way back, as the office has run out of milk. 

So how do you balance the big and the small in role and still come out on top with a top team?  By knowing where and how to invest your energy, that’s how.  To be a high performance leader when the pressure is on (and when is it not on nowadays?), knowing when to lead and when to manage is a key skill.  In a job where everything is urgent, it is easy to lose sight of what is really important -what will make the difference to your work and raise you more money.  Being brave enough to do what is important is where leading comes in.  Urgent tasks (often where management features) still need to get done but sometimes not in the order you have been doing them.  Stand back for a minute/go hide in the loo/do whatever you do to get five minutes peace and ask yourself if it is worth risking missing a deadline in favour of a doing something that will really take you forward in the long run.

It is said that 85% of all problems at work are to do with relationships.  The number may be debatable but you can’t disagree with the sentiment.  Relationships matter in these big roles so define the ones that matter most – both internal and external – and throw yourself into developing them. 

And finally – okay not finally but before the space runs out – never, ever stop learning.  Developing yourself and your team is every bit as important as bringing the money in.  In fact it’s largely how you bring the money in.


Helena SharpstoneAbout Helena Sharpstone

Helena Sharpstone is a learning and development specialist, mentor, writer, and a regular speaker at business conferences.  Former Head of Training at Help the Aged with a background in commercial selling, Helena’s special areas of interest include leading teams, personal effectiveness and communicating with impact.  Since 1997 she has run the Leadership and Team Development Company Sharpstone Skinner alongside Caryn Skinner.

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