We knew it was coming and now it is staring us in the face. Yes, ready or not . . . there’s a considerable change coming in the leadership of our nonprofit organizations.
With many baby boomers holding top executive positions in the nonprofit sector and reaching retirement age in the next few years, there’s a sea change in nonprofit leadership taking place.
According to research conducted by the Bridgespan Group (“The Nonprofit Sector’s Leadership Deficit”, T.J. Tierney, 2006), over the next decade nonprofit organizations will need to attract and develop 330,000 to 640,000 new senior-level managers. In just four years, the not-for-profit sector will reach a point where it will need almost 80,000 new senior-level leaders annually.
Not only will the nonprofit sector need many new leaders, it will need leaders who will be ready to handle the ever-increasing demands and complexity of nonprofit management. What are the competencies they will need to excel in their roles? This is the question that the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance pursued in a study it undertook in 2010. The results of this research were released in the past year in a report entitled, “The Skills the Nonprofit Sector Requires of its Managers and Leaders” (Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, June, 2011).
The study, perhaps the first ever comprehensive assessment of the skills required by the nonprofit sector, involved 3,200 nonprofit leaders from various areas of focus within the sector. Human services (35%), education (17%), heath (10%), and cultural arts and humanities (7%) were the top-represented areas in the study. I recommend reading the full report but here are a few highlights.
The competencies deemed to be highly important for mid-level and executive leaders to have are the following (ranked in order of most importance):
How do you feel about the leadership bench strength in your organization? Is it properly preparing entry-level and director-level professionals for future leadership roles? Are your current and future leaders equipped with these competencies? Do you have a talent pipeline in place to ensure a smooth leadership transition from the baby boomers to the next generation?