Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Who Will Lead?

A really good article on the nonprofit leadership challenge from CityLimits.org

The article covers the basic information about boomer retirement (and its skeptics) and then discusses a survey showing that many younger nonprofit managers don't necessarily want to move up.

This is no surprise to me: it confirms what I'm hearing everywhere.

"Why would I want her/his job?" asks a 20 something manager referring to the ED. "I see how they have no life at all."

Can't blame them:
Boomer refrain: "Live to Work!"
GenX and Gen@ refrain: "Work to Live!"

I think the younger generations have it right.....


stoobers said...

Don't put all the blame on the GenX and Gen@. Save some for yourself. Boomers hog all the glory, but pass 100% of the blame.

As a Gen@, I feel Boomers are self-centered, greedy and proud. I have tried many occasions to volunteer my skills as a Web/Database developer, and I have received the following across the board: WE (BOOMERS) DON'T HAVE TIME FOR YOU.

No wonder you don't have time - you don't know how to delegate. Boomer priorities are all screwed up. Boomers think they are so special they can't be replaced in a heartbeat - when in truth its their own pride that prevents them from lighting another candle.

Peter Brinckerhoff said...

Stoobers, thanks for the post. I think you misunderstood me...I think you guys have it right!

And I agree that one of the big problems has, and will continue to be us (boomers) getting the heck out of the way...

When I speak to audiences I note that with boomers, it's ALWAYS been about us, and that that is not a legacy we want to leave, nor a philosophy that is particularly consistent with running a nonprofit, where it's supposed to be about everyone else.

Thanks again, keep posting and keep up your rants....we need to hear them!

Alicia said...

I think this comes back to your post the other day about admin costs. I'm GenX and I've been a director leading a small team. If non-profits were allowed to have more admin costs, they might be able to foster young talent and provide more mentoring support. I've found that most directors don't have it in their job description to mentor staff--or even really manage their staff--and they are largely too strapped to make the time. People underestimate the demands placed on non-profit professionals. You end up with frustrated, but talented, Gen Xers who jump ship. I think there is some generation stuff at play, certainly, but it's more a non-profit culture issue. We should look to some of our corporate peers for ideas on how to foster--and keep--talent.

Peter Brinckerhoff said...

Alicia, thanks.
Leadership development is the key, and we need the funds to do it. A shout-out to the Bank of America Foundation for their Neighborhood Leadership Excellence program where they are developing both execs and emerging leaders in 44 cities in the US.

Anonymous said...

think there is some generation stuff at play, certainly, but it's more a non-profit culture issue.

Agreed - the generational storyline is real, but only part of the issue. This is about the need for the sector to mature as a sector and a professional line of work. This is about developing robust management practices specific to nonprofits (adapting strategies from business is only part of that effort).

Nonprofits must nurture emerging leadership; academia must deliver quality post-graduate programs; and funders must loosen the misguided constraints on administrative costs so that nonprofits can attract and retain talent with appropriate compensation.

As it stands, a young emerging leader faces very difficult choices - such as whether to enter a graduate program in nonprofit management without being certain that the investment will return a worthwhile career path.

The sector has been running for decades on vision and passion. It doesn't just need visionaries, it needs managers. I think (and hope) that we're running out of people willing to approach a nonprofit career as a sacrifice to a cause.


Peter Brinckerhoff said...

Thanks, Steve, for your comment. Your last line really intrigues me. I agree and disagree a bit. I think we will always be a sacrificial sector, to a degree. But, we need to move toward more normalcy, and not let funders count on our self-sacrifice as a way to save a buck.
I appreciate the post.