A SOURCE for Tools, Advice, and Training to control risks… so you can Focus on your Nonprofit's mission.

March 7, 2012

Soft Power and Quiet Persistence

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

During a short trip to the University of Notre Dame this week I had an opportunity to visit the impressive campus bookstore and pick up a copy of Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” I’ve been buried in the text ever since.

One of Cain’s premises is that where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum “influences our choice of friends and mates, and how we make conversation, resolve differences, and show love.” She explains that introversion is regarded by many in the business world as “a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology,” and notes that fast-talking extroverts are generally regarded as “more competent and likeable” than their slow-talking, reflective counterparts.

In her chapter titled “Soft Power” Cain writes about “quiet persistence” and “sustained attention”—qualities achieved by “restraining one’s reactions to external stimuli.” While reading Cain’s book, I tried to recall nonprofit leaders who exemplify “soft power” and the callings cards of introversion. When I think about my experiences in the board room, one familiar scenario comes to mind—the board meeting with a handful of talkative, dominant and sometimes brilliant members. I enjoy being in the presence of charismatic leaders who are eager to share their views on the subject at hand. I truly look forward to the give and take of a lively board meeting.

But at a recent board meeting I noticed that a colleague across the table was unusually (or so it seemed!) quiet during our deliberations. At the very end of the meeting, she very gently proposed an approach to the issue we had been discussing that was nearly opposite to the options that had previously been suggested. It made wonderful sense to the room full of extroverts and it did not take us long to rally around her proposal. Now that I’ve learned a bit more about introverts I can see that “soft power” and “quiet persistence” can be invaluable in nonprofit governance. Although many board development committees focus on finding dynamic recruits whose outgoing personalities will shine in the boardroom, perhaps we should pay equal attention to the need for thoughtful, reflective, and yes, quiet, introverted leaders, whose instincts, reserve and persistence will help our missions shine.

Melanie Lockwood Herman is Executive Director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. She welcomes your ideas about any risk management topic, feedback on this article and questions about the Center’s resources at Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org or (202) 785-3891. The Center provides risk management tools and resources at www.nonprofitrisk.org and offers consulting assistance to organizations unwilling to leave their missions to chance.


We’re pleased to welcome the newest AFFILIATE members of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center:

Volunteer Loudoun

Volunteer Loudoun was founded in 1980 as a link between individual volunteers and other Loudoun County, Virginia nonprofits to assist with problem solving, promoting group volunteer service projects, volunteer referrals, recognition and training. It has become a multi-faceted organization, with a diversity of programs connecting those with resources to those in need through Loudoun's network of over 300 nonprofits.

Kingsley House

Kingsley House, located in New Orleans, Louisiana is a safe haven to countless children and families and a beacon of hope in their community. Each year, they provide nationally accredited and state certified programs to over 7,000 infants, children, youth, parents, senior citizens and medically fragile adults from 12 parishes throughout Southeastern Louisiana.

Welcome aboard!

Why Join?

As a Center AFFILIATE your nonprofit’s members, chapters, councils and field or branch offices will enjoy access to an array of free and discounted risk resources, including complimentary viewing of this year’s First Wednesday Webinar series and unlimited technical assistance by telephone and email. Nonprofit AFFILIATES include national nonprofit federations, regional agencies, and local organizations. The nonprofit customers of for-profit AFFILIATES (brokers, background checking companies, specialty carriers, law firms, CPA firms, and management consulting firms) enjoy the same access to money-saving risk resources.

The cost to nonprofit AFFILIATES is $75 per month, and the cost to for-profit AFFILIATES is $100 per month. If only ONE of your staff, chapters, or members calls us each month or watches a single webinar, you’ll save money AND benefit in a tangible way from your membership in the only national nonprofit dedicated to helping nonprofit sector leaders become risk aware and resilient in our changing and uncertain world.

We hope you’ll visit the AFFILIATES Program webpage, peruse the list of benefits, and click to enroll. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions about the program or requests for new offerings or services. We look forward to serving you in the months and years ahead!

Policy Drafting Help is a Click Away: My Risk Management Policies

If you’re looking for help developing custom risk management policies for your nonprofit, look no further. The Center is pleased to offer My Risk Management Policies, an affordable, easy-to-use online tool that helps you create custom policies in a matter of minutes. Policy templates are organized into 22 categories. Creating a new social media policy, youth protection policy or code of conduct is a snap using My Risk Management Policies, and requires far less time that it takes to find a mildly suitable sample using an Internet search engine.

Evolving Risk Management Programs: Our Specialty

Whether you’re trying to better understand your nonprofit’s appetite for risk-taking, sharpen your risk management skills, evolve your risk management efforts in response to changing circumstances, or educate your board about risk-taking and risk management, don’t hesitate to reach out the team at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center for assistance. We can support you in a number of ways. We’re available to help you:

We offer advice and consultation on topics ranging from developing or updating youth protection policies, to strengthening governance practices. Why make the evolutionary journey alone when you can partner with a team of nonprofit specialists who live and breathe nonprofit sector risks? Contact Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org or call (202) 785-3891 to discuss your needs and learn how we can help.

Check Out our 2012 Cyber Training Schedule

The Center’s monthly webinars continue next month with our March programs. It’s not too late to take advantage of the recorded or live programs. Keep in mind that if you enroll as a Center AFFILIATE, you’ll enjoy complimentary access to the recordings of all 12 First Wednesdays webinars—a $459 savings.

First Wednesdays webinars cover topics ranging from “Risk and Decision-Making,” to “Managing Social Media Risk” and “Crisis Management and Crisis Communication.” Each one-hour program costs $59. Save $249 by registering for the entire series! Participate “live” or view and listen to recorded programs at your convenience.

Third Thursdays webinars focus on human resource risk. Four, 90-minute programs will be offered during the period January-April 2012. Each webinar costs $89. Save $97 by registering for the four-part series! Participate “live” or view and listen to recorded programs at your convenience.



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