CEO Mary Strickland Featured in Jacksonville Business Journal

LSS president/CEO Mary Strickland recently sat down with Joanna Richards of Shift 7 Leadership for the Jacksonville Business Journal’s new Leaders to Leaders feature.

Below are some excerpts, but check out the whole interview by clicking here!


What is one of the biggest differences between leading people in a for-profit company versus a nonprofit?

As a nonprofit leader, you learn your staff is not as concerned about promotions. Their focus is to help the client. So, their need to impress the leader is minimal. When I first came into the role, no one listened when I spoke! As their leader, I had to gain their trust – they had to see I had the heart for those
we serve, just like they do.

How do you view the need for growth and where do you get your ideas?

It is much more difficult to grow a nonprofit because you are not typically “selling” services. You are usually performing within a grant or utilizing donated
dollars. In terms of our potential growth, if there is a need, a gap, in the community, for our clients, then I want to know if we could meet this need with the expertise we have. For new ideas on how to grow, I talk to my team. I will ask them, “What could we do differently to better serve our clients? What could we do that others are not doing well enough?” My team works face-to-face every day with our clients: Who better to ask where our organization could grow and improve?

Many leaders deal with the pressure of limited resources – everyone needs to do more with less. How do you keep employees motivated with even fewer resources?

As I share with my employees, we may not have the resources, but we have the freedom to make this organization the type of organization we can be proud of. We don’t answer to a corporation – there are no shareholders. It’s our choice – we decide to be excellent. We can be as good as we want to be. We decide our goals. Employees want ownership – and we have it. We see a problem, we fix it. We care about serving our clients and we are very good at what we do. That’s motivating!



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