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Management and Leadership in Nonprofits

Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


Tell Them? Show Them? Teach Them?

May 16, 2019
By: Tammy T. Jelinek

Leaders, it’s time to stop all the problem-solving and sit back and watch what happens.

Who just had full-blown heart palpitations while reading that sentence? It’s time to look in the mirror and decide whether we are helping or hindering with our leadership style. Think about how you answer the statement above:

  • If you are always telling your team what to do, you may feel needed, but you could be setting the team up for future failure. If you win the lottery and leave (or retire or have an emergency), the team can’t keep meeting the goals without you. It’s dangerous if you want your legacy to live on.
  • If you always show your team what to do, you are showing them your way, and this begs the question, are you really honoring diversity on your team? You may be thinking that with all your expertise, you know best. You could even be thinking, “We have always done it that way, and it’s worked fine.” Is fine good enough?
  • If you teach them, you could still be interfering with the very best your team can give. Depending on the method, you could be teaching them one way — your way.

Instead, what if you asked them to:

  • Tell you how they would solve the problem?
  • Show you multiples ways the problem could be fixed?
  • Teach the team (and maybe even you) how to solve the problem?

What would happen if we led by asking versus telling, showing or even teaching? We can always coach, suggest and share our knowledge. We can’t continue to do it for our teams. If we do, we are failing them as leaders.

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


Tammy Jelinek has over 20 years of experience in working in and with fabulous organizations. This blog will explore what it’s like for her to lead as a woman, a GenXer and a person who truly wants to lead with legacy — meaning she wants to walk her talk. Tammy has presented training nationally across the United States, built businesses, coached amazing people and built a career in the squiggliest path known to man…or in this case, woman. She has a passion for being curious, helping people and making actions happen.

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Tammy T. Jelinek, MBA
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