Creating Strategy in Complexity
Like most nonprofits, the Land Trust Alliance is often faced with difficult choices about which goals to pursue. Indeed, the landscape of social change is complex and unpredictable, with ever-changing opportunities and obstacles and a diverse array of partners that requires new thinking about goal setting and new ways of leading. That’s why the Alliance—a national conservation organization—turned to MAG for help with strategy development and leadership coaching.
“MAG consultants helped us look at a giant portfolio of potential work and to focus on what we could do realistically,” said Ezra Milchman, who then served as one of the Alliance’s regional directors. “And they helped us think through how to balance the diverse constituencies we work with.” With MAG consultants’ guidance, he adds, the Land Trust Alliance was able to formulate goals that were ambitious, even visionary, yet achievable. Moreover, they brought order to the strategy development process, bridging many differing opinions. The effort was well worth it: “We’ve achieved much of our strategic plan, which they helped us design and implement,” he says.
Navigating a leadership transition through coaching
Management transitions can be destabilizing—for the managers themselves and for larger organization of which they are a part. So, when the Land Trust Alliance promoted Ezra Milchman from regional to national director, MAG was called in to support the transition.
With help from MAG, Milchman recalls, “I learned how to deal with teams, build consensus, effectively integrate local priorities with national priorities, assign roles and responsibilities among staff, and adjust my own style to encourage other leaders to emerge.” Looking back on the experience, Milchman says that MAG coaching helped him to transform difficult relationships into healthier ones. “I learned where it was important for me to focus and where it was important for other people to focus,” he says.
MAG executive coaching had powerful personal and professional results for Milchman. “It helped me to understand myself, including my ups and downs and missing skills that I needed to be effective. Plus it helped me to clarify my vision for impact in the world of conservation.” MAG’s guidance, he adds, set the stage for a series of successes, and enabled new leaders to emerge within the organization.