What exactly is strong leadership? The term is thrown around so much these days that it has almost lost meaning, but just because it has become a cliché doesn’t mean it’s useless. On the contrary, an effective leadership team is essential to a successful nonprofit.
In the Bridgespan Group’s book, “Plan A: How Successful Nonprofits Develop Their Future Leaders,” Kirk Kramer and Preeta Nayak discussed the elements that make up what they call “leadership potential.” They cited information from the Corporate Leadership Council (CLC), which has developed a detailed model of high potential which Kramer and Navak modified for use in the nonprofit sector. According to CLC, high potential has three components: Aspiration, ability, and engagement.
Kramer and Navak explained these three components:
- Aspiration: This is a term that captures the intensity of an individual’s desire for things like results and recognition, advancement, influence, and work-life balance. Employees with a strong desire for things like these have the high aspirations that mark high-potential leadership candidates.
- Ability: High-potential individuals display strong ability; that is, the combination of innate characteristics and learned skills needed to carry out their day-to-day work.
- Engagement: This consists of four elements: Emotional commitment, rational commitment, discretionary effort, and intent to stay.
Kramer and Navak wrote that while employees who score high in one or two of these areas can be valuable to a nonprofit, it’s the individuals who can put together the whole package who have the highest potential to rise to your organization’s key leadership roles and succeed in them.