The foundation of any successful nonprofit is a strong leadership team. Without a competent group guiding the organization’s mission, it is likely goals will not be met. For those nonprofits that have this strength, beware: It can disappear in an instant if there is nothing done to train worthy successors.
Leadership development must be a key component of your organization’s hiring process if you are to continue to have success going forward. Whether you are bringing in new employees externally or grooming your current employees, you must have some sort of plan to ensure that effective leadership will always be a strength of your organization. In the Bridgespan Group’s pamphlet, “Plan A: How Successful Nonprofits Develop Their Future Leaders,” Kirk Kramer and Preeta Nayak readily admit that the process of developing new leaders can be overwhelming. The most common concern that managers have is that they don’t know where to start.
Wonder no more.
Kramer and Nayak laid out a five step plan to get your organization on track to developing a strong future. Those five steps are:
- Engage Your Senior Leaders: If you are a CEO just launching your leadership development efforts, begin by telling your senior team that it is important that they develop as individuals and that you’ll help each of them to do so. Ask each member of the senior team to add a personal — and organizational — development objective to annual goals.
- Understand Your Future Needs: Gather your senior team for a once-a-year offsite meeting to discuss where your organization is going and the potential of their direct reports to move into more senior roles.
- Develop Your Future Leaders: Meet twice a year with each of your direct reports to discuss their progress against their leadership development goals.
- Hire Externally to Fill Gaps: Identify the areas where you will likely need to hire externally to meet your future needs and those where you should aim to build capacity from within.
- Monitor and Improve Your Practices: Set targets for accomplishing the work of the previous items on this list. Next, report on your organization’s progress against those targets to your senior team and the board. Finally, determine leadership development priorities for the coming year.