5 ways to develop new leaders

It’s easy to rest on your laurels if your nonprofit is lucky enough to have a strong leadership team. The truth of the matter is, though, that strength can disappear in an instant if there is no plan in place to develop new leaders.

The process of developing those new leaders can be overwhelming, a fact Kirk Kramer and Preeta Nayak readily admit in the Bridgespan Group’s pamphlet “Plan A: How Successful Nonprofits Develop Their Future Leaders.” This leaves many managers wondering where they should start. Well, wonder no more. The two authors devised five tips that will help your organization get on the path to developing a strong future:

  • 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.