Episode 23: Paul McKenzie – Three leadership essentials during the pandemic

Episode Notes

The pressure on fundraising leaders is greater than ever at the moment, not least, to secure funding to help our charities continue to serve our communities.

If you are the leader of a fundraising team, I think you’re going to find this episode insightful and encouraging. It’s an interview with Paul McKenzie, an experienced fundraising leader, and the Executive Director of Fundraising and Communications from Depaul UK.

In this, the first half of my conversation with Paul, we explore three things that he believes are disproportionately important for a leader to give their attention to during this crisis. Clearly there are dozens of problems leaders could do to at the moment and that’s precisely why I found it so helpful to hear what Paul prioritises ahead of everything else.

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If you’d like more powerful strategies – including one chapter on ‘Leadership During the Pandemic’, then I’d love for you to make use of my new free E-book : Power Through The Pandemic – Seven ways to raise high value income, even now. You can download it for FREE here: brightspotfundraising.co.uk/power

 1. Wellbeing

Right now our people are dealing with far more intense pressures than they’ve faced before. For these reasons, Paul told me, the first priority of leaders during the pandemic, is the well-being of every person in your team.

  • The well-being of team members is the first thing he asks his team managers about.
  • And it’s the last thing he says at the end of all his meetings, so that he’s made it formally clear to everyone that nothing is more important than this.
  • As with leadership in normal times, its important to recognise that everyone is different. Some people will be dealing with the pressures relatively well, and others will not. Good leaders tailor their approach to suit each person’s support needs.
  • And it’s an ongoing process, rather than something that is fixed, so leaders need to continue to pay attention as people’s need for support change over time.

 2. Trust

  • This point is linked to the first one, in that Paul seeks to reduce any unhelpful pressure people may feel, beyond their own desire to achieve the common goal, the charities’ mission.
  • Paul said that with everyone working from home, juggling different family responsibilities, a key thing he’s explicitly told his team is that he trusts them. He has made it clear to them that he does not care how many hours they work, he just trusts them to get the job done.

 3. Communicate relentlessly

Paul mentioned the importance of lots of talking and listening – much more than normal during this crisis.

  • For instance, he has a 45-minute virtual catch up each Monday, attended by all. Each person has a chance to answer two questions with everyone else. What are you focusing on this week? How was your weekend?
  • At least bi-weekly virtual meetings with his line reports.
  • And the team are proactively scheduling social catch ups, including virtual coffee chats; lunches and Friday drinks.
  • The other thing is to check in with people in a less formal way – he is checking in by messaging every one in this team of 23 at least once every seven working days.

Quotes

‘The first, most important thing is the well-being of your team, now more than ever.’

Paul McKenzie

‘My team have been amazing. They’ve got an emergency appeal out incredibly quickly. They’ve engaged donors we had previously struggled to reach…in really difficult circumstances, my team are absolutely smashing it.’

Paul McKenzie

Further Resources

There is a full bundle on Paul McKenzie and Liz Tait’s approach to high creating energy cultures – as well as dozens of other training and inspiration bundles and regular live coaching sessions – in the Bright Spot Members Club. Follow the link to find out more.

If you’d like more powerful strategies – including one chapter on ‘Leadership During the Pandemic’, then do check out my new free E-book : Power Through The Pandemic – Seven ways to raise high value income, even now. You can download it for FREE here: brightspotfundraising.co.uk/power