The Nonprofit Leadership Mindset

Welcome to Think Good Leadership and my “official” first blog post. Although I have been doing nonprofit consulting and coaching for many years, I am now officially a full time solopreneur running a leadership development business with a focus on nonprofit leadership development.

So why exactly would I build a business in a space that has notoriously been considered frugal in their approach to leadership development? Because I passionately believe that without an intentional approach to building nonprofit professionals, we collectively, as a community and a society,  won’t have the tools necessary to solve the biggest social issues facing our country today. I am so sure about this that I have taken the incredibly scary leap of building a company around growing this leadership capacity.

A few things you should know about me. I have worked as a professional in the educational, consulting, corporate and nonprofit sectors. These diverse experiences have given me the experience to be an effective communicator and coach with all of the players in the nonprofit space including donors, volunteers and other social sector leaders.

Additionally, my husband and I have been actively engaged in our local charitable community as donors and volunteers. We are fortunate to be able to give back our time, talent and treasure. I share this with you because my point of view on nonprofit leadership is directly informed by all of these cumulative experiences.

We all are responsible for stewarding the next generation of social sector leaders. Unfortunately, as a sector, we are missing the mark currently. The Bridgespan Group has been following this nonprofit leadership crisis for years and has observed little change in the approach to the number one organizational concern of boards and CEO’s…succession planning. At the end of the day, we are not doing what we need to do as leaders (this includes CEO’s and board members) to develop the necessary bench strength required to create not just sustainable results but extraordinarily high functioning organizations.

There are a variety of factors that play into this leadership crisis that I will address in future blogs. But here is the “why” for Think Good Leadership…without deliberate attention and designated resources for accessible leadership coaching and talent development, we are putting the future of these organizations at risk. We need to get serious and committed to building healthy high performing leaders and organizations.

The transaction costs alone of finding and attracting a new employee, particularly at the senior level, can be as high as half of her annual salary. But the costs to an organization in productivity, fundraising, and distraction (as members of the board and senior team turn to recruiting and onboarding critical staff positions), can add up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars more.” ( “The Costs of Unwanted Executive Turnover.”)

Through my work, I hope to create awareness of this issue and to develop a new nonprofit leadership mindset. As a donor, I want my dollars to be stewarded by a sustainable organization. As a citizen, I know that we have complex issues to address. As a “recovering” CEO, I know that executive jobs are incredibly demanding and that our resources are diminishing. We want to leave a legacy. Therefore, all of us need a new mindset.

Igniting the potential in individuals and organizations will ensure the social sector has the tools to do what it needs to address the most challenging problems in our communities.