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Management and Leadership in Nonprofits

Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


7 truths about professional development

Feb 07, 2022
By: Tammy T. Jelinek

As leaders, we can all look up the statistics around the benefits of developing oneself. Through our careers, we may have taken courses on how to be a better leader, how to introduce change more effectively and even how to have hard conversations. These are all topics Wipfli offers, so maybe you even learned them with us.

In today's world, with change happening fast, we are hearing more people say they just don't have time for professional development.

That’s unacceptable. Yes, I said it.

Here are seven reasons that professional development is so important for nonprofit leaders:

1. People are watching what you do

I don't mean that in a creepy sort of way. What I mean is that leaders set the tone from the top. Newly hired team members watch the actions of the leaders. And the next generations coming into our work environment value the opportunity to learn and grow as much as they value the opportunity to earn and save. This means that if your organization says professional development is an important value, they are taking your word for it. And if you say it is important, but you don't take the time to invest in your own professional development, they are watching those inactions, too.

2. Leaders don't know it all

And even if we think we know it all — we sometimes don't practice what we know because it has been a long time since we learned it. Professional development is an opportunity to remember how to be the best leader you could be. It’s an opportunity to take professional development knowledge of the past, add it to emerging, fresh knowledge and fuse them to help you become the “right now” leader your team needs.

3. Professional development is an investment in your profession

Whether it's taking time to learn about trends, exploring what's going to be new or effect change within your industry or learning the next way to attract the next generation of employee — it all equates to impact in your profession and your bottom line.

4. When we stop learning, we stop doing

Taking the time to learn something new connects different parts of our brain. It involves us taking different actions. Overall, it helps us think in different ways, and connects us to new ideas and new people. The benefits far outweigh the time spent.

5. It reminds us of the value of time

Time we invest in professional development is sacred. As a leader, you don't have time to go to training that isn't helpful. You don't have time to listen to fluff. You need tactical and practical information that you can use on the job right now. The nice part about professional development, especially if you have been in your career a little longer, is that you don't have a problem saying this isn't valuable to me, my time or my job. You can say no. You become more discerning in your learning.

6. It gives you an opportunity to teach others

As leaders we are teachers. Sometimes we forget that by taking something we have learned and sharing it with our team, we are investing in them. We care enough to help them get better at what they do.

7. We remind ourselves that we are valuable

Our time and our knowledge are valuable. By investing in professional development, we honor our time and our value by continuing to grow and learn. We use that information to make us better leaders, to make us better employees or to make us better employers.

Enjoy the journey

As you think about this new year, what are the professional development topics you can really sink your teeth into? Whether you choose micro-trainings of 10 or 15 minutes at a time, go on YouTube and learn a new skill, decide to go back for that degree you haven't finished, or pick a tool you’ve been using for decades and learn it even better — that's all professional development.

And I am putting in a selfish plug here. We are so appreciative that we can still offer most training sessions virtually. Have a look at our updated list of training sessions for nonprofit and government organizations.

But I miss seeing attendees in person. I’m so excited that we’ll be onsite at our largest conference of the year: Stronger to Serve. Online registration goes live February 15. I would love to see you and your team there. And if you are there, please look me up.

May you enjoy the journey of investing in yourself. And, may you share what you learn and develop others.

Wishing you a great day and remember: Lead with legacy.


Tammy T. Jelinek, MBA
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