I am getting cynical, it must be the jet lag.
I'm feeling like a broken record at this conference. I am raising my hand in each session to presenters saying helllo are you aware of this piece of research or that regarding nonprofit leadership and nonprofit workforce? I'm not trying to be a snooty but don't people use the internet -- google reader? There is research in the nonprofit sector not just in the academic research databases. Many argue this practitioner based research must be critically reviewed, that is true, however practitioner research cannot be ignored either.
I attended the plenary session this evening where Michael Useem author of several leadership books spoke about nonprofit leadership. At least I think he was trying to talk about nonprofit leadership--I couldn't really tell becuase he is talking about corporations and CEOs and large corporate meetings. Will someone please tell him the majority of the nonprofit sector has organizations with budgets under $500k and we don't have the same issues with leadership as corporations?
He, like many people associate leadership as something that is trait based and stems from the CEO or ED. Well in large corporations that might work, however nonprofits are crying out for something different--collective leadership or participatory leadership or leadership that involves more than a one leader solution. Not to be corney, but enough with power to the leaders, power to the people!
I am really looking forward to writing my dissertation because my research shows that nonprofit staffers want more than just technical training they want interpersonal training to lead at all levels within the organization.
While I'm ranting, my colleague (to remain nameless) said that in one session she attended people will still saying there is going to be a leadership gap in the sector--to reiterate, there is no leadership gap, it is all in our heads.
Please read the research report Next Shift: Beyond the Leadership Crisis. Boomers are not 65 yet and they don't have real retirement plans in the nonprofit sector, they are not going to leave, nor will there be so many open positions that people are predicting. People are coming into the sector in the same amount they are leaving. The younger generations are coming into the sector with excellence education and training and we are starting to address the interpersonal training needs they need to have in order to stay in the workplace.
I believe the bigger issue at stake with nonprofit leadership is for the sector to revitalize itselves like the 60's and acknowledge that in order to run an affective nonprofits one must provide support and training to nonprofit employees and support nonprofit capacity building efforts.