Like the weather, everyone seems to be talking about nonprofit leadership these days; but, unlike the weather, they actually seem to be trying to do something about it as well.
Foundations are launching leadership initiatives that usually involve training or mentoring opportunities for nonprofit executives; some are even creating leadership programs within their foundation’s funding guidelines. Others are commissioning studies that issue dire predictions about the future of the sector, as experienced nonprofit leaders flee.
All of this concern, and most of the resulting activity, is well-founded.
As I discovered during my sixteen-year stint as a nonprofit executive director, it’s a tough job!
I am also quite hopeful about the future of leadership in our sector. First of all, the emergence of a discussion of leadership is bringing greater recognition of the fact that we often ask our nonprofit leaders to do the near-impossible. If that recognition translates into support for higher spending on infrastructure, and perhaps even into more unrestricted grant funds, it will help.
I am also optimistic because, unlike the leaders of my generation, today’s nonprofit leaders are more likely to seek formal management training.
I want to suggest a wonderful read to anyone interested in the topic of leadership. A book we use in our own leadership development work with executive directors. The Leadership Challenge, by Kouzes and Posner, offers an affirming approach with lots of practical suggestions for better leadership. This is important because, in the end, leadership is not about being a leader, it is about leading. It is a quintessentially practical activity. So give the book a look, and then go out and lead!