MMM: Denice Hinden, President, Managance Consulting & Coaching

BIO: Denice’s mission is igniting well-being in nonprofit and nongovernmental workplaces. 1983-2000 she was a nonprofit human service organization leader. Since 2000, Managance Consulting & Coaching has offered transforming strategic planning and energizing leadership development. She is co-author of The Nonprofit Organizational Culture Guide: Revealing the Hidden Truths that Impact Performance (Jossey-Bass, 2011).

Number of years in management: More than 10 years.

Degree/Institution: PhD/Florida International University.

Tell us about your path to management:
I started my professional nonprofit management career a year out of college as an Administrative Assistant to the Executive Director of a 24-hour crisis hotline. Excited about the work and hungry to learn everything I could, I jumped right into learning grant writing, board management, strategic planning, program development and staff development. I even managed the installation of the the organization’s first ever computer network. Knowing that I wanted to be connected to social work in some way, but not as a clinician, I completed a masters degree in human services where I took a few clinical courses but focused on management and leadership. Post-masters degree I had the opportunity to be an Executive Director of two small organizations, then found my dream job as the Deputy Director of an emergency shelter for runaway and homeless youth. When I finished my PhD in public administration with a focus on nonprofit management and fundraising, my mentor encouraged me to seek out a national leadership opportunity and I took a Program Director position for a national nonprofit focused on leadership development. After 17 years working in nonprofit management I had the opportunity to open my consulting practice. When we were forming the practice I shared with a colleague where I wanted to focus, and he said, “you are doing managance – you know management and performance together.” I just loved that blending which so perfectly defined our purpose.

What leadership qualities do you find to be the most effective in reaching your organizational or career goals?
My top 8 list:

1. Listen deeply.

2. Collaborate authentically by hearing many voices and creating forward movement that reflects diverse perspective.

3. Ask good questions.

4. Tap into a positive mindset as much as possible, which includes trusting, seeking understanding, and being objective.

5. Know my values and looking for ways to stay true to them.

6. See and work from the strengths of the people I have the opportunity to work with.

7. Be courageous in having hard conversations in ways that leave everyone in a better position.

8. Be as agile and open as possible to new perspectives and new ideas.

How do you motivate your team members?
1. Being as transparent as possible about my vision and plans. I have learned the more I share with my team – even my least well thought out ideas – the more they are with me and can help me make good choices. My team also now deeply understands our work and are able to step up on their own much more often without my involvement.

2. Actively inviting my team to provide their perspective and ideas and then valuing their contributions by running with them very frequently.

3. Thanking them every day and often multiple times in a day. I also surprise them from time to time with specialappreciations.

Is there a leader or mentor who has inspired or assisted you along your professional journey?
It is hard to just focus on one leader or mentor. I am so fortunate to have many leader role models and mentors who have profoundly impacted my career and my life, and who continue to inspire me even though a few are no longer with us. Walter Lowry was the Executive Director at the Urban League of Harrisburg where I did my first internship in college. He believed in me and woke me up to the power of collaboration even with perceived competition. Shirley Aron was the Executive Director at Switchboard of Miami where I had my first paying nonprofit job as an Administrative Assistant. She believed in me too and let me try whatever I wanted to in the nonprofit management arena. George McKinney was the Crisis Hotline Director who taught me how to actively listen and ask good questions. Dr. Maxine Thurston-Fischer was the Executive Director at Miami Bridge Emergency Shelter for Runaway and Homeless Youth and hired me as the Deputy Director. Among the greatest lessons I learned from her was that you never know if you will be the grain of sand at the bottom of the pile or the top of the pile in the influence you have, but you will be a grain so always make it count. I also learned to be flexible and to trust that everything works out for the best. Joe McNeely was the CEO of The Development Training Institute and hired me at the national level. He challenged me to step up because he knew I could and would do it. Jeff Nugent was a Sr. Vice President at DTI who I reported to. He showed me how to train, facilitate and navigate the big picture of leadership development. He took my facilitation skills to a next level that I didn’t know was possible. Bob Hoffman is a consultant partner who also believes in me and can be honest with me about where I need to adjust and step up. Larry Hinden is my husband and mentor every day in keeping our business financially strong. I believe every leader needs a wide variety of role models and mentors that support their success. Leadership is not a career path you can be on alone.

How has networking impacted your career?
It has been incredibly important. It is the very thing that led me to find a job opportunity in Baltimore when I finished my PhD and it continues to be the thing that attracts new projects and opportunities to our firm for the last 15.5 years. It’s an essential skill.

What are you reading and/or following now (e.g. book, blog, social media groups, etc.)?
This week I’m reading Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results by Judith Glaser, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Launch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business Your Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams. I routinely read Michael Hyatt’s Blog and scan a variety of social media groups on nonprofit management and leadership. Podcasts I really like are the HBR Ideacast, Nonprofit Leaders Network, and The Nonprofit Ally.

What advice do you have for those beginning their professional journey or who are already in leadership positions?
Regularly take time to think about where you are on your leadership journey and where you want to go next. This enables leaders to bring intention and direction to your aspirations rather than being at the effect of whatever may be happening around you. Taking stock and developing a vision for my leadership has been an invaluable practice for me time and time again. As a result, it is a core element in our leadership development practice and coaching we do with nonprofit leaders and teams.

Do you have an initiative or project you would like to tell our readers about?
Leveling Up Leadership is our initiative designed to help nonprofit managers and senior leaders take their leadership to the next level they define for themselves. Leaders can get our complimentary Leveling Up Leadership Workbook, weekly Leadership Nuggets and Blog Posts through our website Leaders can also register for a free monthly webinar about the Leveling Up Workbook and the leveling up process. In May 2016 we are thrilled to be launching a virtual Leadership Learning Community. In this energizing community, nonprofit leaders have the opportunity to meet in groups of 8-12 leaders for 6 week virtual seminars to receive support and valuable tips and tools to expand joy in their leadership. Over the course of a year we’ll offer 6 seminars and explore 36 different leadership practices and reinforce and support positive leadership mindsets. Space is limited so interested leaders can be in touch with us now.

What do you wish you had known before you started your career?
Dan Rather said that one of the hardest things to learn in life is that some people do not wish you well. I live my life seeing the good in everything but that is not always true for other people. It’s important to be aware of this so you can figure out effective ways to take the high road no matter the challenge, and take care of yourself in professional and healthy ways in all types of situations.

Share a mistake or failure that provided the most growth in your career.
I’ve made a number of mistakes in my career that had a profound impact on my growth. The one I’m sharing here is one of the earliest and to this day I feel its impact. In fact it is at the core of the positive energizing way I approach everything. It was 1985ish. I was in my Administrative Assistant role at the crisis hotline, managing implementation of the organization’s first computer network. I sent around a memo demanding that all staff participate in a mandatory training to reinforce system basics I felt people weren’t committed to learning. Minutes after the memo was out, a staff member peeked into my office and said, “you don’t catch bees with vinegar.” Once I understood she was talking about my memo I was opened up forever to the idea that the way a leader makes people feel is one of the most important attributes of an effective leader next to building trust and being accountable.

To contact Denice Hinden for any inquiries please email her at

*The views expressed herein are those solely of the author and not necessarily endorsed by the Network for Social Work Management.

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The views expressed herein are those solely of the author and not necessarily endorsed by the Network for Social Work Management.

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