Anne Wallestad’s opening plenary at the 2017 BoardSource Leadership Forum in October was well received by those in attendance and featured in the Nonprofit Quarterly. A summary follows. We encourage you to read the entire text of Igniting Leadership for Power, Purpose, and Impact on the NPQ website.
There has been a lot happening around us. It’s easy to feel a sense of powerlessness, given the divisiveness that we are experiencing as a society. A sense of anxiety, as fear and confusion surround so many aspects of our work and communities. And a sense of frustration as our leaders in all levels of government struggle to identify a path forward. But we are not powerless. As a sector, we have a tremendous opportunity to bring people together. To insist on civility and solutions-oriented thinking that helps us move beyond partisan politics. And to rally our communities around the shared sense of purpose that comes from a desire to make the world a better place — for all of us.
But, to do that effectively, we need to unlock the full leadership potential of our organizations, our boards, and our executives. And I have four specific recommendations about how to make that happen.
- Start with purpose — There is a reason your organization exists. What is it?
- Define your values and live into them — Values don’t mean anything intrinsically, nor should they be generic statements with which no one could possibly disagree. They should be deeply held principles that are central to what your organization stands for.
- Cultivate resilience through flexibility — Know what your goals are and then be flexible about how you meet them. Think outside the box to identify new ways to serve your core purpose. Maybe that is considering a partnership or merger.
- Build power and influence — With the government set on cutting billions of dollars in nonprofit funding, advocating for your organization is an absolute necessity. There is too much at stake to sit on the sidelines.
Read Igniting Leadership for Power, Purpose, and Impact in its entirety. It is also available as a video.