Mastering the Art of Leadership and
Teamwork in Grants Management
By Vicky Cooper
Fiscal Manager, Lee County Utilities

When you are faced with building a grants management team, no matter the size, you need strategies for creating a collaborative and efficient team that contributes to the ultimate goal: compliance with the funding and having fun while doing it! Below are a few key tips to help you along your team-building journey:
1. Find Your Why and Set a Compelling Vision

  • Define a clear purpose and impact for the grants team by determining “what your why is.” This does not have to be a complex multi-page plan- no need to overthink it! This can be as simple as a bullet point list of what you want to accomplish and what your end goal is.

  • Purpose gives us direction and clearer focus. Give yourself two to three minutes to define your purpose to help you get started. You can always add more to the list later.

2. Build Your Team and Foster a Collaborative Environment

  • Any team starts with one person. If that person is you, you must be the champion of your purpose and build your team from there.

  • People naturally want to be led and guided. Don’t be afraid to lead and ensure you lead by example.

  • Hang out with your team. Set a standing recurring meeting that starts and ends on time; 30-minute meetings are great. Take the time to get to know your team by chatting and building that pillar of trust. People are much more willing to collaborate with each other if they trust each other!

3. Continuous Learning and Development

  • It is important to practice continuous learning and gain knowledge in the grants field. Take trainings and webinars; join organizations; read the newsletters you sign up for, and track your findings as you get lost in your research- bookmark pages, save PDF files, etc.

  • Get to know the staff from award-granting agencies. Go ahead and email your grants manager with questions or a possible future fundings to establish a working relationship.

  • Find a mentor or exchange ideas with someone who has a similar position or might have a different perspective. An easy way for NGMA members to connect with other grants management professionals, including those in your own sector or chapter, is by logging in to the Community Forum, NGMA’s online message board.

4. Information Sharing: Tips, Tools and Tricks

5. Celebrate Successes- the Good, the Bad and the Neithers

  • Recognize and celebrate both major achievements and small wins and the no-wins. They all matter and have a learning purpose to them!

  • Acknowledge the hard work and dedication of team members to maintain a positive and rewarding work environment. One of the best ways to do this, in my opinion, is hosting potlucks. Food is a universal language that we all enjoy. If you and your team work remotely, host a monthly fun activity such as a scavenger hunt or other games through virtual apps, or even a happy hour! The point is to get together and celebrate.

Vicky Cooper is a fiscal manager for Lee County Utilities in southwest Florida.