Becoming a great nonprofit leader…what does it look like and how does one become one? The topic of leadership has been around a long time and studied at great length. Books have been written and studies have been published, but the focus has primarily been on the private sector. There isn’t much in the literature that looks at leadership in nonprofits. And, let’s face it: while there are similarities in the attributes needed in both, there are also some distinct differences.

Based on research I’ve conducted and my own experience working with and in the social sector, there are seven key areas of focus I believe are necessary to become a great nonprofit leader. They are: 1. Be clear on your mission and purpose; 2. Invest in yourself and others; 3. Inspire others; 4. Think strategically; 5. Share leadership; 6. Build strong relationships; and 7. Achieve results. Further, my contention is these skills may be learned and practiced to produce a great leader. In other words, a person doesn’t have to be born with these skills to demonstrate great leadership.

So how does one learn and practice these competencies? My colleague, Stephanie Small, a former executive director and now the Chief Synergist at Synergy Partners, and I have partnered to develop a two-day course that outlines the skills needed to become a great nonprofit leader. Called High Impact Leadership (or NMI 105), the two-day program is packed with hands-on learning activities that stretch and challenge participants to identify and own their strengths, get clear on their purpose, and practice tools that will help them inspire others, think strategically, build strong relationships, share leadership, and focus on outcomes. Click here to register.

Class size is limited, and the class is filling up fast. If you miss this round, it will be offered again on November 2-3, 2012. We are excited to bring this leading edge learning opportunity to our fellow nonprofit colleagues in Arizona.

Karen Ramsey is President & CEO of Lead for Good, a nonprofit organization dedicated to leadership development in the nonprofit sector. Look for her upcoming book entitled Lead for Good: Seven Steps for Unleashing the Great Nonprofit Leader Within.


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