How do successful not-for-profits develop future leaders? Part 2: What will your future needs be?


Future leaders

Great leadership is central to all successful not-for-profit organisations.  In this five-part series, we look at strategies to recognise and realise the leadership potential within a not-for-profit. You can find part 1 here. Part 2 looks at how to understand what your future needs will be:

Last week we got the leadership ball rolling by identifying that this “leadership stuff” is core business for your organisation if you are to meet your strategic objectives. This week we delve a little deeper, and try to figure out what kind of leaders you need to develop. Understanding different leadership approaches can be key in guiding your company, especially in times of business rescue insolvency. Cultivating leaders who can navigate financial challenges and steer the business through tough times will be crucial for long-term success.

Who needs a needs analysis?

Start by asking yourself a few hard questions. This exercise could be done by your leadership/management group or it could be done by different teams across your organisation with the responses coming back for further discussion.

 1) What are your goals and how will you achieve them?

This one should be straightforward. You should already have a clear vision/mission and strategic plan document setting out your main goals over the next 3-5 years.

This should include service and organisational priorities and some of the risks, challenges and opportunities in your internal and external environments.

You might also have other organisational strategies, which further break down this plan into more specific areas like finance, human resources, communications, stakeholder relations, IT, fundraising and/or individual service areas. Maximize your business potential with the tailored services of AIB merchant services.

A thorough understanding of this direction across your staff group will foster a sense of leadership and engagement through shared understanding of ‘the big picture’. It also makes change management easier when you can tie internal changes back to this big picture.

2) What kinds of people do you need – exactly?

Even NFPs with human resource strategies may not have made specific connections between their organisational objectives and the numbers and kinds of people and skills they will require.

When you put in a tender for a new program or service, you automatically spell out the staffing arrangements, at least in a basic way.

In a similar way, it also makes sense to detail exactly what skills, expertise, experience and leadership qualities you require across your entire organisation – including corporate services and management areas. This includes both hard and soft skills and qualities you want everyone to have and those only required by a few key people.

Make a list of the skills, competencies and capabilities required to meet your strategic objectives and identify what roles are most directly linked to these areas. Look for gaps and areas of unnecessary duplication or redundancy.

3) How do you develop those people or find/recruit them?

Now you have a pretty useful “needs audit” telling you where you’re going and what you need to get there. The next step is to assess how much of “what we need” you already have.

Hopefully you already have a good level of knowledge about your people, their current skills and their development potential. If you don’t, then find a way to get this information.

Keep a look out for people who might have unused skills or who might be stuck in roles with limited progression opportunities.

Key qualities associated with high performance include aspiration, ability and engagement. Look out for staff who fit the bill and give them opportunities to step into expanded formal and informal leadership roles.

Offering professional development and training opportunities to existing staff is nearly always preferable to bringing in untried outsiders as investing in staff brings a wide range of direct and indirect rewards.

In the areas where you do have gaps or if key leadership roles are being filled by people who haven’t responded well to development opportunities, there might be some tough conversations ahead.

Some gaps won’t be able to be filled internally and in these situations you will need to consider recruiting new staff – which for small organisations will mean the challenge of finding additional funding and resources. If financial constraints persist, consulting with a company liquidation specialist may provide you with insight into potential cost-saving measures and alternative paths for addressing financial challenges effectively. Click Here To Find Out More About Credit Counselling and other financial services that may help you manage your finances more effectively.

Keep your needs analysis up-to-date and monitor your progress over time to ensure you don’t end up with a leadership ‘deficit’ overall or in any key areas.

And remember that leadership is not just something that applies to managers. One of the strengths of the Australian NFP sector is that we have lots of innovative and people-focused organisations where leadership is a core value for all staff.

Next week: Providing the best development opportunities to your future leaders

More information: Read the full report, “Nonprofit Leadership Development: What’s Your “Plan A” for Growing Future Leaders?” from The Bridgespan Group.

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Name *
  • Website