Leadership development is a perennial topic in the nonprofit sector. How do we hone our own leadership skills? How do we cultivate leadership within our departments and organizations? How do we create a pipeline of future leaders?
Our focus on leadership development is only natural. After all, nonprofits exist to create positive and lasting change in our communities. Doing that requires both sustainable programs and sustainable leadership.
But while we talk a lot about leadership development, our sector doesn’t have the best track record of successfully cultivating leadership.
Nonprofit Leadership Needs
It’s hard to overstate the need for more leadership resources and support among nonprofits. According to research from the Center for Effective Philanthropy:
- 31% of nonprofit CEOs report that leadership is a key area of organizational strengthening they need to invest in.
Yet despite prioritizing leadership investment for our organizations, nonprofit leaders are struggling with their own leadership needs. The Concord Leadership Group has found that:
- Only 21.4% of nonprofit leaders have a very great degree of confidence in their leadership ability. Almost 10% of nonprofit leaders have little confidence in their ability to lead.
- Only 52.7% of nonprofit leaders say their needs for leadership development are being met.
- The number one development need leaders reported was better access to leadership training.
The data only reinforces what many of us in the nonprofit sector have long felt in our guts.
We’re asking nonprofit leaders to change the world—yet giving them far too little support to do so.
The Value of Leadership Training and Development
Those of us who’ve been in nonprofit work for a while know that not every training program is effective. The traditional sorts of training many of us have experienced—where staff spend a day or two in a conference room with trainers—have limited impact.
But under the right conditions, leadership training and development can have a lasting impact. In fact, according to experts, the best leadership development programs combine practical skills, internal reflection, and the opportunity to put learning into practice.
Thanks to technology, organizations now have plenty of alternatives for training that can better meet diverse leaders’ needs. For example, webinars, self-paced online courses, and other tools provide longer-term programs with built-in space for reflection and a greater focus on practical skills.
Quality leadership training can also pay off when it comes to staff recruitment and retention. According to survey data:
- 76% of employees say that an employer would be more appealing if it offered additional skills training to its staff.
- 60% of millennials want leadership training.
- Retention rates rise 30-50% for companies with strong learning cultures.
Ready to Strengthen Your Organization’s Leadership?
Leadership training doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. If you’re looking for a place to start, check out Funding for Good’s April 2023 webinar, Equipping Impactful Leaders.
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