EP012: Kishshana Palmer is Elevating the Way We Think About People in the Nonprofit Sector

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This week, I speak with Kishshana Palmer, a brilliant trainer, speaker, and thought leader when it comes to management and leadership in the nonprofit sector.

I have spent 2 decades working in the nonprofit and social impact sectors, and I’m in love with these people. You work hard, you are smart, dedicated, and incredibly resourceful. And it drives me up the wall that the people in this sector are so often underpaid, and instead of being treated like the resourceful humans they are, they often are treated like machines who are expected to churn out social impact non-stop.

Kishshana and I delved into this dynamic at length, and talked about what gets in the way of us celebrating and cultivating the excellence that is right here in this sector. Kishshana is a captivating speaker. She is funny, wise, and bold in her declarations of where she thinks this sector needs to be heading.

We talked about:

  • Common and counterproductive mindsets in the nonprofit space, like “martyritis,” and the “mediocrity mindset.”

  • Kishshana’s experience of burnout and resilience

  • Impostor syndrome

  • How as a “team whisperer,” she works to understand and harmonize the various communication styles in nonprofit teams

  • How to be a disruptor without being (overly) disruptive

  • The problem with thinking about your nonprofit colleagues as communities or families

  • Connect with Kishshana here, as well as on Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Get this episode’s Antidote to Burnout Culture 

ANTIDOTE is an every-other-week email, inspired by my work with clients, and my conversations with social impact leaders and innovators on the Dialogue Lab podcast. 

For instance, towards the end of my conversation with Kishshana, we talked about how in the nonprofit space, we often see our colleagues as not just colleagues, but like a family or community. The week after this episode comes out, I’ll send an email with ideas on what you can do to maximize the upsides — while avoiding some of the considerable downsides — of community vibes in the workplace.

Interview Highlight:

On “martyr-itis” in the nonprofit sector:

[12:35]: “Thinking about talent, and thinking about our number one asset in this sector — which is our people — is something we cannot continue to miss the boat on. Or be excited that we wear people out.

I don’t want to continue to have to cite stats about how quickly fundraisers roll out of their roles. Me included. I don’t want to be excited about the fact that we’ve burnt yet another person out.

Maybe excitement is not the right word. Maybe it’s more like, “oh, they couldn’t cut it.” Or “well you know, this work is hard.” Or taking pride in being like, “oh we’re bone weary.” I don’t want that. I don’t want any of that.

A big thanks to our sponsors:

Sasha Allenby is a ghostwriter for thought-leaders in the social evolutionary field, specializing in books on socio-economic, racial, sexual, gender and refugee equality. www.sashaallenby.com

The Brotherhood Community is for self-identified men who want to be part of building a world where they are able to lead with strength, vulnerability, and an open heart. www.brotherhoodcommunity.com