Fostering New Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations

by Barbara Berci.

Barbara Berci,
Founder and Chairman

According to the Harvard Business review “successful organizations are realizing that new managers can make a more significant impact if they can also lead. 

 
“Leadership” means being able to establish a vision, inspire others, think strategically, respond rapidly to change, and take decisive action.” The trick is to identify potential leaders, nurture them and give them both responsibility and authority.
 
One of the worst accusations of many organizations is that they are not nimble, remain “old boys (hopefully olds girls, too!) clubs” and don’t develop new leadership. Some ways we help our clients avoid that trap is to advise and help them set up systems to identify and train future leaders. Some tips:
  • Develop a call for self-nominations process. That way, members have a committed interest in serving in a particular position, rather than just being appointed.
  • Track people who volunteer to work on projects and give them increasing responsibilities. Give them support and listen to how they think and work.  Give their committee/project a realistic charge and/or objectives so they can achieve their goals. When possible, have the senior leader serve as a mentor to the junior one.
  • Give upcoming leaders private and public kudos. In non-profit organizations they are volunteering their time for the good of the group and should be recognized for this effort. Promote them to committee or task force chair and, when ready, to the Board of Governors, Directors or Council. This keeps ideas fresh and encourages younger members to become active.
  • Rate their responsiveness and help them improve it.  Also, collect feedback from them.  Providing an open dialogue is critical in ensuring that everyone’s opinion is valued.
  • Diversity is not only principled, but effective in giving a wide range of perspectives.
  • Factor in such qualities as humility, tenacity, empathy and a good sense of humor.
“Go forth and multiply” is also a good rule for organizational leadership!