Tag Archives: executive directors

CompassPoint and Meyer release Daring to Lead 2011

CompassPoint Nonprofit Services in California and the Meyer Foundation here in Washington have released a follow-up study report as part of their “Daring to Lead” series.

This report raises some serious issues – issues that still amaze me that we continue to talk about them.  More than 3,000 nonprofit executives participated in the survey from which the report was developed, and it is absolutely worth your time and attention.

Their big findings are some critical takeaways.  Basically they are:

  1. Executive turnover is going to remain steady if not increase, and board are basically NOT prepared for that reality.
  2. The tried-and-true financial models for running a nonprofit are just not sustainable anymore, and that’s leading to serious frustration and anxiety.
  3. Even with all of these big problems out there, executives are staying resolved and energized!

Download this report.  Read it.  Share it with your board. Share it with your colleagues.  Share it with your top funders.  Start a conversation about what implications these findings have for your nonprofit.

Visit the new website www.daringtolead.org to learn more and to join in a broader conversation about leadership and its role in the nonprofit sector.

Feel free to share your thoughts here as well.


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Filed under From the Field & In the Trenches

A note from Transition Guides

This morning I received the latest issue of Leadership Guide, the email newsletter from TransitionGuides in Silver Spring, MD.  Their areas of expertise are succession planning and leadership transitions for nonprofits.  The newsletter featured profiles of three nonprofit executives who had successfully navigated the complex and often emotion-laden process of moving on from a beloved organization…especially when they are the founder!

I was especially struck by a consistent point found in two of the stories – the concept of “getting out of the way.”  Both leaders suggested that founders must make a special and focused effort to move on and, in effect, step out of the way of the organization’s progress and evolution.  Whether they’re hampered by a sense of guilt imposed on them by board and other staff members, or by their own sense that the organization could simply never make it without them, founders can actually be doing harm to their nonprofit by staying too long and not moving on.  It’s a challenging process to be sure, but it is essential to keep the best needs of the organization at heart and to keep looking forward.

Among the many resources offered by TransitionGuides is their popular Next Steps Workshop.    Their next event Next Steps Workshop: Succession and Sustainability Planning will be held in Washington, DC September 13-14, 2010.

I have many times seen how critical it can be for an organization to have a solid succession plan in place.

As a member of the selection committee for the Washington Post Awards for Excellence in Nonprofit Management, I have many times seen how critical it can be for an organization to have a solid succession plan in place.  Organizations that have done well over the years with this award process have all exhibited an openness to explore the challenges and opportunities inherent in leadership transition.  They give their chief executives time and permission to take advantage of resources like the Next Steps workshop.  And from my viewpoint, it’s made them all much stronger and better able to sustain strong leadership across the entire organization.

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Filed under Events and Activities, From the Field & In the Trenches

What can we learn from “Smart CEOs”?

The February 2010 edition of SmartCEO includes in its 10 Things column a list of ways one can build a superior company.  Called the “Excellence Challenge,” the list contains suggestions from organizational psychologists Ken Wexley and Doug Strouse.  These recommendations offer a useful list that can work for any nonprofit Executive Director/CEO:

  1. Be Receptive to New Ideas
  2. Focus on the Big Picture
  3. Foster Mentoring
  4. Show Interest in Others
  5. Communicate
  6. Empower Others
  7. Take Appropriate Risk
  8. Inspire Trust
  9. Become a Servant Leader
  10. Exhibit Optimism

It is remarkable to note how many of these suggestions are focused not on what we might refer to as technical business skills, but rather on person-to-person interaction – communication, mentoring, empowerment, showing interest, etc.  Over the years, as I have participated in the selection process of the Washington Post Awards for Excellence in Nonprofit Management, I have found that this emphasis on people management is absolutely critical.  Those organizations whose leaders create an atmosphere that celebrates and recognizes the contributions and importance of the people who make their work possible are often the organizations that excel.  It is a real success factor for organizations that want to take themselves to the highest levels of achievement.  Leaders that use these 10 ways to advance their organizations will also find that many potential donors and partners will want to join them in being part of such a successful organization.  It’s a great recipe for development.

I urge you to take a look at this list.  You can find the entire article – including a more detailed description of the 10 suggestions – online at SmartCEO’s digital magazine site.

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Filed under From the Field & In the Trenches