On Developing Leadership

As a followup to yesterday’s Philanthropy Chat on Future Leaders,  I want to start reading up on leadership in nonprofits, including books, white papers, and articles. I liked the chat, but I am interested in delving into specific methods of developing leadership, for two reasons.

1) Leadership qualities are actually just the qualities that should be developed in all employees–diligence, hard work, sharing ideas, being open to evaluation and assessment, building new skills, taking on challenges. We should all practice and develop these skills. Everyone will lead at some point, even if it is just on a specific project. As we move further into our technology-driven and Millenial age, management hierarchies will disappear. We all need to be ready to step up to the plate.

2) We talk a lot about leadership, and sometimes this is just lip service. Who is modeling this behavior for your leaders? Who is insisting that they be developed in this way? I know buy-in from future leaders is high, and yet sometimes from current leaders it seems to be very low.

As an aside, the chat mentioned a 70/20/10 approach to leadership development that I find really interesting (70% on the job training, 20% mentorship, 10% outside expert resource, I believe). I want to think more about this, because the 70 that we all already do just sounds like more work. As in, work in excess of the work we already do. Spreading a future leader too thin does not help them learn to lead, but rather pushes them further along the road to burnout. How can we give future leaders the opportunity to take on a new project without just burying them in work?

In the meantime, read this:Plan A: How Successful Nonprofits Develop Their Future Leaders by Kirk Kramer and Preeta Nayak, published by Bridgespan

I’ll be back on this in a bit.


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