Establishing strong leadership for your nonprofit: Part 1

Having a strong and dependable leader provides any organization with direction and a plan of action. Your nonprofit can benefit substantially from ensuring you and your employees are properly prepared to become stronger leaders.

Develop a strategy to train individuals, and encourage them to emerge with qualities that benefit your organization. The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit advisor, relayed in a paper authored by Kirk Kramer and Preeta Nayak that surveys typically indicate charities know they need to further develop a plan to train a group of strong future leaders.

"Nonprofits are acutely aware of their leadership gaps," the study noted. "Bridgespan has surveyed approximately 500 nonprofit organizations on various aspects of their organizational effectiveness, and the teams we surveyed consistently singled out leadership development and succession planning as their most glaring organizational weakness by a margin of more than two to one."

Looking to the future
When your nonprofit makes the decision to invest in the development of strong leadership, looking to the future is one of the key elements to success. Bridegspan's report recommends first asking whether your current employees will provide ample leadership for your future. From here you can decide whether you need to hire new promising individuals or develop the skills of your current staff.

Make a list of your anticipated needs and what your current employees or new hires will need to do to meet the new developing demands. This can help you and your employees have a clearer picture of what changes need to take place. For example, if you currently lack a sufficient online donation services, you may need to see certain employees take the incentive to attend an educational conference and learn about the development of new technology that can improve this aspect of your nonprofit.

Whether your needs are financial, creative or strategically-based, identifying these needs can give you a better idea of how you can encourage your employees to take the initiative to improve themselves and your nonprofit's performance.

Mapping out a course to reach your goals
When developing your future leaders, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of your nonprofit's mission, vision and strategy. Do not hesitate to encourage individuals to further develop these components to better align with the direction your nonprofit is heading. According to The Nonprofit Times' account of Jeff Wolf's book, "Seven Disciplines of a Leader," one of the most valuable characteristics of a good leader is the ability to communicate your nonprofit's vision, strategy and mission effectively.

Passion and a knack for storytelling can help individuals successfully communicate these elements to other employees, the donors and volunteers that work with your nonprofit. Look for these characteristics when searching for individuals in which to invest time and energy when working to develop leaders for your organization.

Your future leaders can help you improve and enhance your charity's current mission, vision and strategy. Ask for input and establish an improved version of these elements. A quality leader can assist immensely with a task of this nature.

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