Let's learn how to become more influential leaders with Kristen Tippit. Hello, and welcome to Driven's Fundraising Superheroes podcast. I'm your host, Sabrina Sciscente.
As an innovator in nonprofit technology, our team is Driven is determined to help you unlock your true fundraising potential. Make sure you give us a visit at trustdriven.com to learn more about how we can help you with your donor, volunteer or member management.
Good leadership goes beyond being capable of managing a team. It means learning how to communicate effectively with both your staff and your donors on your values as a nonprofit, and oftentimes people shy away from speaking about these challenges, personal struggles or even overhead costs of running a nonprofit organization.
But if we are going to create a more inclusive space, these challenges need to be discussed.
Kristen Tippit is a dynamic thought leader who co-ounded Logic Baby, a nonprofit organization that helps parents with NICU babies get the resources and help they need to care for their child. She joins us to share how we can become more influential and impactful leaders. Thank you so much, Kristen, for joining the show today.
Yay, thanks for having me.
So can you begin by defining what an influential leader means to you?
So I hadn't really known much about this concept until I joined a really awesome course and then later, sort of a coaching group that focuses all around influential leadership. So the idea behind this is that influence is getting people to do what you want, getting people who you have no power over to do what you want them to do, not in a negative way or like an evil way. But just like helping people get to where you need them to be for whatever it is that you're doing.
And so as a leader, you have a lot of instances where you need to have people do things that you have no power over. And so it's about figuring out how to do that. And so I can jump more into sort of what that looks like. But essentially the bare bones of it is it's it's allowing people to feel seen and heard, because when they feel seen and heard, they're going to open up, they're going to be open to what you have to say. They're going to trust you more.
And so really, at the core of everyone's being, all we really want anyways is to be seen and heard by others around us, right, both in our personal lives or professional lives. And so in terms of leadership, it's about showing up that way for the people that you're working with, partnering with, collaborating with or supervising. However, that looks for you. So really that's just kind of the bare bones of it is allowing people to feel seen and heard in whatever they're dealing with, going through, whatever issues they have surrounding the thing that you need them to do.
And in fundraising, it comes down to trying to figure out where you can sort of meet in the same place together. So what their goals are and what are your goals are and how can we align those? It's not really about like, hey, give me this or I need you to do this, but it's more just like, okay, what are your goals? What are your things that you want to do with this money? And what are the things I want to do with your money or with your time and talent and kind of combining all of those things together.
But if you can come to the conversation, any conversation you have with anyone with that mindset, then you're going to really open up a lot for that conversation. And for that relationship.
The more I talk about leadership on the show, the more I'm realizing it's less about your traits and more about what you can give back to the people that you're serving. So I think that that's a really good example. If you go in with the mindset of how can we help each other, it's going to be so much better than how can I make this situation better?
Yeah. And I think part of it, too, is sometimes I think we're so attached to the outcome that we push and we push and we push to try and get what the thing is that we think we want out of it. And if we can, this is the other part of it is let go of the outcome and just come to listen and come with the things that we need, but also to hear what others need and where they're at. We can usually find a place where that fits well for both of us.
And then it doesn't feel like forced. It doesn't feel like work. It's just more of a flow between both parties.
Exactly. And that's where the magic happens when you get that flow. Yeah. Traditionally, leaders are seen as strong, business-oriented people, very professional, very straight faced, and they're supposed to leave their personal lives at the door when they head into the office. Do you feel like this image of leadership has changed? Do we need to make way for, like, a new era of leaders?
Absolutely. Yes. I think you cannot differentiate between what your life is like before you go in the door or open your Zoom call or whatever and where you are when you get there, because everything that happens to you influences who you are and how you come to a situation, how you approach things, how you think about them. And so a lot from what I've learned from the course and from coaching is how important it is to sort of embrace all the struggle, both in all the parts of your life, because that is what opens you up then to the other good parts of things, like the joy and being able to see the better outcomes that you may have missed otherwise.
And so I think, too, just empathy and compassion, being able to really be there for each other. Like, if you come in and you're leading a team and you are only focused on the outcomes for your business, for your program, for your project, whatever it is your product, you're going to miss the ability and the chance to really strengthen your team in ways that you probably didn't exist, because if you can't be human with them, if you can't really show up and find that compassion and empathy and understanding for each other and what you're going through, you're going to miss a lot of things because people the way people grow and change is by going through hardship and then coming out the other side of it and then taking that with them wherever they go.
And so I think when we just try and act like this is just me and I'm here to lead and I don't have any. There's nothing else going on in my life, like tons of things going on in my life, right? Like, everyone has so much going on in their life, whether that's for family issues and friend issues and home issues and kids and all the things that happen. And if we can kind of bring that all together, then we're able to relate better, we're able to understand each other better.
And then in terms of influence, again, that's like, I'm seeing you for who you are, all the parts of you, all the parts of you. And then if I can see that, then I can help Hone in on the strengths that you have to offer and all the things that you bring to the team, to the workplace, to your life, to my life, and we can really find a good fit. It's kind of like a puzzle. It's like, okay, what are the things that you bring from your whole person into this space?
And sometimes it may morph and change and see that's important to me, not just to stick to something for the sake of sticking to it. Like, okay, this is your job description. So that's it. And these are things you do. And we don't look at anything else. Like, oh, wait a minute. I noticed you're really good at this. And I noticed you're really good at that, like, really kind of building on that and drawing from that and letting people show up as their whole selves so that they can really fit into the best place they can in your team.
You're going to get the most out of the whole experience and you're going to get the best outcomes for whatever it is you're trying to do if you can show up that way. Yeah.
And I feel like it's more of a humane approach because to not take into account somebody's personal life is like dismissing more than half of them. So I think that that's definitely the way to go. And I'm seeing it more and more as we get out of COVID and we come back into whether it be partial offices or maybe we're just fully remote. We just have to accept that there are so many more other aspects to us than just our work.
Yeah. And I think when people feel supported, they're going to do a better job. I think all of us just in our lives. When we feel that support from the people around us, we show up differently. We do our work differently. Our needs are being met, so we are able to fulfill sort of the full gamut of the things that we're able to do. And so yeah, I think it's incredibly important. We talk about it all the time. And my coaching group is like we have a mastermind where we bring an issue to the group, and then we have a certain amount of time to hear from everyone and hear their wisdom.
And sometimes it's just a personal issue. Sometimes it's a friendship issue or an issue with the kid or issue with another interpersonal sort of situation and just being able to talk about it with the group and hear from them and have them really show up for you can change the whole situation for you. So I do. I think it's so important that people start. I don't know how much it's changing. I'm not in everyone's workplace, but I think ideally it would be the new way of leading because it's only going to serve everyone better.
Yeah. And part of that, especially as nonprofit leaders, is a lot of how you communicate. I think creating an open dialogue is really important, and making sure checking with your employees is also another important aspect of making sure everyone's feeling seen and heard. What role does empathy play in nonprofit communications? And how can we use it to better connect with our donors as well as our staff?
If you can practice empathy first for yourself, because that's huge self-compassion, self-empathy is important so that you can really show up well for others. But when you practice empathy and you're able to really see something from someone else's perspective, then that opens the door to understanding what roadblocks they have, what objections that they're dealing with. It can really sort of unclog the well. It can really sort of open up the waterways because if someone is dealing with something in their life or in their mindset about what you're bringing to them, let's say you're talking to a donor and you're hoping that they want to donate a certain amount or be involved in a certain way, and they have some hesitations.
And so they're putting up objections to you. If you're able to really hear those. And I think what happens is with objections is we tend to take them personally, right. Like, oh, someone's objecting to me, but really, that's their way of working through it. And so they're working out how it's working for them or how they're understanding it. And so if you can listen and empathize with those objections, then you can really get somewhere because you can say, like, oh, what I'm hearing from you is that you're feeling this way or that you're seeing it from this perspective.
And I totally get that that makes sense to me. And this is why I think that what I'm saying fits into that puzzle as well. I mean, I know I'm talking in a lot of, like, abstract language, but it is the idea of, like, empathy. Listening is really big in empathy, right? Like, you can't be empathetic if you're not really listening to someone and hearing what's going on with them. And maybe it's not always extremely over either. It could just be kind of a subtle thing that if you're not really tuned in and trying to really understand where they're coming from, then you might miss kind of an opportunity to work through it with them.
And so I think there's a lot of the masculine side of things tends to be like, this is how it's done. This is what we're doing and let's move forward with it. And I think not them and can't be empathetic. But it's just that's sort of the leadership style of like, we're just going for it. And when you can bring in the empathy side and really kind of understand and get to know how people think how they feel about certain situations, there may be something about what you're saying that reminds them of something else that was really hard for them or triggers them in a way that you don't understand because you didn't know that about them and doing check-ins is really great.
Like you know what? It kind of feels like you're pulling away a little bit in this conversation or I'm trying to understand. Tell me more. This is a great one. Tell me more about how that seems to you or feels to you or how you're kind of perceiving that I'd love to hear from you about that. And then again, it just goes back to them feeling heard, because when you're empathizing, you're really just listening and hearing them and kind of being able to say, like, I get that perspective.
It doesn't mean that you have to totally agree with it. It doesn't mean that you also live that perspective. It just means that you can understand it and you can hear it. Yeah.
And that fits in perfectly to your first point about good leadership is that you have to make them feel seen and hurt. And I guess it's the same for your donors, too. People aren't going to support causes that they don't feel connected to or that they don't trust. So I think that being really active with your listening and, like you said, trying to understand that it's not personal and that people have their own stuff going on that influence their decision is so important, especially when it comes to fundraising.
So many organizations shy away from speaking about their overhead in their marketing and fundraising. And this is something that really surprised me when I started in the space because they're so important having a place to work, having good staff, they're integral to running a successful organization. And yet there's still the stigma around talking about overhead costs and talking about funding overhead costs. So how can we begin to shape our narratives and be more progressive and not shy away from talking like a for-profit?
Right. Oh, my gosh. So important. I think we are somewhat moving in a better direction with some of these things. I've heard a lot of nonprofit speakers at different conferences I've been to that have been sort of like radical about how crazy is it that we beg for every dollar and we have to account for every single thing that we do. And just to get a $1,000 grant, you have to have all of these things in place, and it has to go, how many paper clips are you going to buy with this?
And each thing is accounted for. Right. And it's insane because that is not what happens in the for profit world. Nobody has to explain where anything is going. It's just this is what we're doing, and we're getting you what you asked for, whatever that product or situation was consulting or whatever. So I think we just have to own it more. We just have to really be honest about it. To run a nonprofit takes people. It takes people because what we're doing is making a social impact.
And so that requires people. It requires time and energy and people's talents. And that's just how it is. And I think just starting that conversation more and being just really open about it like, yes, this money goes to fund a person's position so that they can do the work. That is our mission for us at Logic Baby. It's all about connecting with parents and providing them with information and support and advocacy training. And that doesn't happen. That doesn't have anything to do with, like, office supplies or it might.
But a lot of times it can be technologies which are really important. It can be just people's time, because that's really what we're doing is when you want to connect with people to make an impact. If you want to teach them something, that's what you're paying for. That's where the money is going. It's going for them to use their knowledge and expertise to help someone else. I don't know. It's a big shift, and it was probably going to take a lot of time to actually make that shift.
I mean, I wish there was more. We're actually participating in a kind of a neat program here in St. Louis called Flu Start ICORE. And it's not quite like an accelerated, but it's similar in that they have a lot of mentorship and leadership. There's some funding opportunities, and it's more like what a for profit could go through for what they're trying to accomplish. But it's not like you have to explain away every single thing that you're doing or grants are. So they're so tricky because there's so much that goes into it and so much preparation, and you have to have X amount of years of experience to show that.
Yes. I'm going to be able to do this and this with the money. And I think our funders, I think our foundations and grant makers, it starts with them really understanding how important it is to just let the nonprofit do the work. And if they believe in the mission and they believe that it should get done, that should be it. Here's some money, here's some money to make it happen. And we'll expect to see some sort of result from it. But it's going to and also sometimes some of these things are hard to measure.
Like someone's quality of life improving is kind of a hard measurement space. Right. Like, for us, we're trying to create a better experience for parents as they go through, like, a very traumatic sort of crisis situation. And sure, they can say like, yeah, it was easier, but it's a hard thing to measure. And really it comes down to an individual level of like, this made a difference to me while I was going through it. And having this being armed with information really helped me out. But these are sometimes hard things to provide data-wise for outcomes.
And that's what everyone's so focused on. What are your outcomes? What are your data points? And so I think we're just relaxing on that. Some would be just incredible. I think we could do a lot more in our mission if we didn't have to focus on all of these very specific issues.
Yeah. Because you definitely get focused into the minute details. And it's so true, because you can say, like, I had 600 people use my organization this year, but the impact you have on each individual person can vary. And even if you just had ten, if you made an enormous impact on those ten people, it's way more valuable than making a small impact on 100 people. So, yeah, the data definitely important. But sometimes you have to just trust the process and focus on the more humane aspect of the work.
Yeah. So my sort of hope for the future for funders is sort of letting go of some of those some of that control. I think it comes down to wanting to like, I need to know exactly how this is going to be spent instead of maybe building a relationship with the people who are going to be spending the money and saying, like, I trust you and I love what you're doing. And I just want to see more of it if I had the money to fund folks.
That's what I would be like. You know what I like you and I like what you're doing. And I wish that I had had that for myself for whatever the situation is and go for it. Let me know how it goes.
Yeah, exactly. If you had one last piece of advice you would give to nonprofit leaders on how they communicate and they handle their messaging, what would it be?
I think we all just have to show up authentically because showing up authentically means that you are totally yourself and you are not trying to be a version of yourself that you want people to see. That isn't real. And that doesn't encourage a lot of openness and good communication and empathy and compassion and all these things that we've already been talking about. So all you have to be is you. All you have to do is show up as yourself and sort of let go of the control and the fear that showing up as yourself is going to mean that you are not as strong or not as in charge or not as influential or charismatic or whatever it is that we've been taught that leaders are supposed to be, you know, if you are in a position of leadership or you want to be in a position of leadership, it's all about being authentic and really connecting with people, helping them skill seen and heard and practicing empathy, all the things we've talked about, but yeah, definitely.
Like, authenticity is huge.
Oh, it is 1000%. Well, thank you again, Kristen, for coming on to the show before we head out today. Can you let our audience know how they could get in touch with you? How they can support Logic Baby?
Definitely. So we have a website, and it's just Logic.Baby L-O-G-I-C. And on the website, there's just numerous ways to get in touch with us. We have all of our coaching. We have links to all of our coaching videos on our website, which goes to YouTube. That's where they all are housed. And then we'll be starting a class for Nikki parents, like a Nicki 101 class starting. So if that's at all of interest to people, that will be starting after the new year, and then we are on all social media as Logic Baby L-O-G-I-C "dot" B-A-B-Y.
Baby, because we have a baby and most of our stuff. But you can't do that on social media. So Facebook and Instagram are really our biggest areas that we focus on, and we try and collaborate and include content from all different folks who are working in the NICU space. And really, like I said, we just are trying to be there for parents trying to support them and educate and provide advocacy training as they go through a really hard experience.
Well, thank you again, Kristen, for joining the show. If you want to get in touch, with Kristen or learn more about her organization logic Baby, I have linked that along with the other resources you mentioned in the Description box. If you want to learn more about us here at Driven, Maybe stay updated on all the Fundraising Superheroes episodes. You can join our newsletter and listen to past podcast episodes at trustdriven.com. That is also the best place to get in contact with us. We would love to hear from you and as always, thank you so much for listening and see you next time on the Fundraising Superheroes podcast.