Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rethinking Leadership

During the Independent Sector Conference the NGen fellows reported that we (the next generation of nonprofit leaders) have trouble identifying under 40 leaders that are creating social change in the sector. The fellows encouraged us to rethink how we view leaders and leadership.

There are many different ways of viewing leadership and how people create social change. My favorite way of viewing leadership is as a collective process. Leadership is not about one person in an organization making singular decisions; it is about multiple staff members coming together to collectively move the agenda of the organization forward. Yeah, the CEO might be the face of our organizations, but as next geners, we are making things happen behind the scenes, we are making our CEO’s look good.

Additionally, collective means that leadership is happening among many different groups of organizations. Funders are starting to fund these groups of organizations (case in point the Social Innovation Fund from the Corporation for National and Community Service). Even so, this view of societal change needs to be taken a step forward and recognize that leadership flows throughout people, organizations, and communities.

So let’s rethink how we view leadership and how social change is occurring in our sector. I’m really excited that the Next Gen Leadership award went to Darell Hammond, CEO of KaBOOM! because he understands collective leadership and his organization is truly creating societal change.

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