What We're Thinking

Creating Next Gen Leaders and the Organizations to Support Them

Last year we were honored to facilitate an emerging leadership program for a cohort of leaders who were part of the Packard Foundation’s Conservation and Science portfolio of grantees. The project, which combined peer learning and mentoring together with an online “Emerging Leaders Playbook,” offered a new and entirely virtual approach to leadership development.

The project presented a unique opportunity to discover and test the best mix of skills and support that would help develop the next generation of social sector leaders. The success of the program (even if at a small scale) led us to explore what it might take to expand the delivery of the leadership development best practices for young leaders to the social sector more broadly.

  • We spent the past eight months in deep discussions with emerging leaders as well as those who are on the front lines of supporting these leaders to find out what they want. We learned a lot.
  • Despite the increase in knowledge and programs that support effective leadership, there remains a significant gap between the key concepts and practical applications in the workplace.
  • Emerging leaders today need a combination of hard and soft skills (empathy, emotional intelligence, appreciation for equity and diversity) to do their work effectively.
  • Effective delivery for professional development needs to be integrated into the actual work day and that with limited professional development budgets and fast paced workloads, micro-content and micro-exercises as well as mini-sessions are most useful.
  • Effective delivery of content and learning experiences takes both on and offline connection
  • Talent managers and HR directors must move beyond the development of processes and policies and focus on embedding a culture of learning that can support and nurture talent within their organizations.
  • Talent professionals in the social sector desire more opportunities to efficiently access, implement, and share quality leadership development tools and practices.
  • Investing in the next generation of social sector leaders takes buy-in at all levels of an organization.

Today’s nonprofit emerging leaders want opportunities to improve their leadership skills and competencies, but we also recognize that it will take a new way of thinking by organizations in order to nurture their development. We believe the most effective leadership development occurs when organizational leaders create the time and space for learning across an organization — when it truly becomes ingrained into an organization’s DNA. But what does this look like in practice, and how can we support those who support emerging leaders?

The topics that emerging nonprofit leaders need include understanding their own strengths (leading self), recognizing how they lead and manage others (leading others), and being confident of their role within an organization (influencing organizational change). That became the basis for the Emerging Leaders Playbook— a curated collection of resources that support emerging leaders on their journey, and provides talent managers with practical tools to help retain and support emerging leaders within their organizations.

It isn’t enough to read an article about a leadership skill, it is also important to practice it as part of doing your work. The nature of today’s nonprofit workplace – fast paced and heavy workloads – makes it nearly impossible to find the reflective time to put together a learning plan and implement it. That’s why we’ve included a highly practical toolkit that consists of facilitator agendas and worksheets for nonprofits to apply the ideas and frameworks. The toolkit helps nonprofits get their work done, but also helps transform doing the work into a leadership development experience for young leaders while building the organization’s capacity to become a learning organization.
Here’s how you can join the conversation:

  1. Visit the new Emerging Leaders Playbook for curated resources focused on Leading Self, Leading Others, and Influencing Organizational Change. And, get direct access to practical tools that you can use within your organization.
  2. Check out the Emerging Leaders Collaborative Group on Facebook and begin to share resources and get tips from other emerging leaders and talent managers who are using the Playbook and toolkit.
  3. Join us on April 6 for a webinar with leading talent managers from Acumen, Bridgespan, and The Mission Continues and learn how to embed a culture of learning and leadership within your organization.
  4. Join us on May 2 for a special session led by Beth Kanter, and take a deeper dive into the Playbook and learn how to apply the mini-modules in different settings with your team.

Leave a Reply

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