Toolkit: Leading in Times of Uncertainty

Strategic Planning

ILE Strategy – A Toolkit for Social Impact Leaders


Are you a leader navigating new challenges? Perhaps our strategy toolkit can help. Drawing on a range of planning frameworks this toolkit includes templates and frameworks to facilitate effective communication and planning with your team as you:

-Assess external issues influencing your organization
-Revisit and restructure your strategic plan
-Assign roles for action planning
-Evaluate internal processes
-Prioritize incremental process change
Report process improvement outcomes.

Download the toolkit as a Powerpoint (editable/fillable) or as a

It just so happens as we were uploading this toolkit we came across a publication by Sequoia Capital on the 4Cs of Leadership in Uncertain Times, targeting their startup grantees. Use this as inspiration or as a set of core values as you work through planning exercises with your team.

“These are the 4 C’s of leadership in uncertain times: ○As you communicate with your teams, you need to remember that especially in times like this, you have a megaphone in front of you. What you say is amplified. ○You need to deliver your message with conviction. ○You need confidence but also a sense of calmness. You must be optimistic, but also a realist.”

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Shield Your Organization From the “Great Resignation”

Strategic Planning

Employers are struggling to keep staff around, amidst the “Great Resignation”. Many organizations believe that raises and promotions are key to employee satisfaction. But this may not be what actually motivates people to stick around and take ownership of their role.

In his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Dan Pink identifies three important factors for motivating employees that could be missing at many organizations.

They include purpose, mastery and autonomy.

Now don’t get me wrong. Raises and promotion are important. They signal to employees that they are valued and that their work is appreciated.

But staff also desire to understand and be in agreement with why the work is being done (purpose). They want the opportunity to develop important competencies (mastery). And, they want to be perceived as being competent and trust-worthy enough for self-governance (autonomy).

These are deeply human needs, as Pink explains.

Ironically, a raise and promotion provided in isolation may prompt an exit. – Since the accolades build the confidence needed to pursue opportunities that are more aligned with their goals.

Getting in sync with staff and what drives them requires doing regular checkins about company culture and fixing gaps through incremental adjustments. It’s best to make these shifts in partnership with the team to allow for ownership of the process (and accountability).

The results may improve productivity and organizational culture overall.

5 Pillars of Capacity Building

Strategic Planning

Capacity-building strategies facilitate the development of organizational infrastructure and assets needed to efficiently and effectively advance an organization’s mission long-term. Capacity building is not a short-term process. It is future-focused and ensures the organization can continue to generate social value and produce positive community outcomes well into the future. 

Capacity-building efforts can include the following five focus areas: 

Personnel development which equips all members of the team with the training and resources needed to complete their tasks. Building team capacity also includes leadership succession planning to explore the organization’s future needs and begin mapping out a strategy to prepare current staff or recruit new staff to fulfill these roles. 

Technological development ensures that the organization has access to the hardware and software available to serve their community, measure program impact, and report the results through multiple channels of communication. 

Community engagement can be a powerful, multi-faceted capacity-building tool to ensure that the organization maximizes social and human capital. Often nonprofit leaders overlook untapped talent in our communities such as senior residents with valuable knowledge and life experience or professionals that offer quality pro bono services. Community engagement can also create a future board or workforce pipeline and create opportunities for grooming future leaders and team members of the organization.

Board development can ensure that each board member has a specific role that is clearly defined and aligned with their talent, resources, and interests. Each board member should have a performance rubric for tracking and progress reports. 

Finally, as the pandemic and other recent crises have demonstrated, capacity building strategies must include disaster resilience.  Any organization serving vulnerable populations such as low-income families, seniors, or special needs communities should assess organizations capacity scenarios during pandemics, cyberattacks and natural disaster emergency operations. This preparation might include using your facilities as a shelter or staging area for emergency personnel, preparing non-perishable foods for distribution or purchasing generators or solar panels as back up during power failures. Obtain access to multiple buildings and vehicles across a wide radius in case your main facilities are inundated or compromised during a significant storm event or other natural disaster. Coordinate with other organizations, businesses, and building owners in the area to ensure access to multiple locations for sheltering displaced populations and for, storing and staging food.

Based on our experience, these are five of the essential capacity building focus areas that organizations must consider. Depending on your organization -the people you, serve as well as emerging trends in politics and demographics – there may be variations on the strategies presented here. 

Capacity building efforts should begin with a meeting with your team, your core constituency and key stakeholders to discuss concerns about the present and future needs of your community.