Leadership and NASCAR. The two words, at first glance, may not seem to fit together.
For Hardy Smith, they do. Hardy was able to work under the Bill France family, founder and owner of NASCAR. The lessons learned in his 30-year career with NASCAR have helped Hardy become the leader he is today. It has greatly impacted his service with nonprofit organizations and chambers.
As Smith shares in an interview with Connect for More’s founder Liz Wooten-Reschke [hyperlink to youtube video on the red text], one of the top tips received from Bill France was to anticipate and recognize your problems in advance. Problems are going to occur. If you learn to anticipate them, you can weed most of them as a true pressing issue. When a problem does arise, having already recognizing what could be an issue, at least you’ll know how to solve it more quickly.
Smith translated this philosophy into his nonprofit consulting. For nonprofit organizations means he incorporates it into his “rinse and repeat of best practices” format.
“My definition of courage for nonprofits and boards is being willing to recognize what you’re doing isn’t working and change isn’t just going to happen,” Hardy says.
Hardy Smith’s Courageous Leadership Tips:
- Have the willingness to change and adapt
- Don’t do something just because all the other nonprofits are doing it. Make sure it’s right for your organization.
- Learn to create sustainability for your own organization.
- Be willing to work in connection with competing organizations as long as it benefits both parties. (Something Connect for More calls “coopetition.”)
- Make sure the staff and board are working together for the same goal.
- Be willing to say, “where do we go from here?” when something didn’t work as planned.
Smith shares how important it is that there’s absolute clarity on board expectations. Many organizations fall short in this area. They assume everyone knows the expectations or are too afraid to list the requirements.
Building a successful nonprofit business takes time, commitment, and intentionality. Be intentional with your board recruiting.
How can you be intentional in board recruitment?
- Effective communication is critical in obtaining and maintaining a great working board.
- Create a culture your board members WANT to be a part of.
- Acts of appreciation with words of thanks, recognition, and praise help keep members engaged.
Smith believes any nonprofit can break the cycle of frustrating board relationships. His book “Stop the Nonprofit Board Blame Game” offers a different approach in altering leadership practices to encourage a culture where board members benefit are fully engaged.