Category Archives: Leadership

Servant Leadership In Nonprofit Culture

A flipped pyramid showing the structure of servant leadership (Haaff, 2015)

By: Greg Finkelstein, Kia Harris, and Jenny Shen, MNA ’18

In nonprofit entities, leadership is the cornerstone of success. Without good leadership, regardless of how impressive the individual components may be, productivity is far from maximized, and employees themselves may become marginalized. There are a plethora of leadership techniques which can be enacted at many levels, but their effectiveness varies depending on the environment in which they are employed. However, given the nature of nonprofits, servant leadership is the universal perfect match.

Servant leadership is a concept that many leaders will never be able to follow. They may feel that being a servant leader means that power is being yielded from them to other employees. This has nothing to do with servant leadership. A good leader can lead from the front, from behind, or from the side. Beyond that, a good servant leader is still clearly in charge. This concept does not mean that final authority shifts away from management and into the hands of the other employees.

To become a servant leader, one must have the mentality that their role is to support and address the needs of those who work under them (Johnson, 2017). Thinking from the employee’s perspective, checking in with them, and being receptive to feedback all give servant leaders insight on how to better facilitate the work being done. There are constantly new models or seminars on how to be a better leader, but what will always make sense is directly asking those who are being led how they want their situations improved.

The concept of servant leadership fits nonprofits perfectly because of both their virtues and shortcomings. Nonprofits usually have employees who truly want to be there and work towards the cause. Often, these employees are initially attracted to the organization because they align with the mission statement and the values emphasized. In this light, engaging in servant leadership is a very logical approach. Truly supporting those who have a high level of motivation to accomplish the organization’s mission and affinity for the cause at hand makes the most sense. If employees already want to work hard and efficiently, pushing and prodding them doesn’t help, but will instead wear people down over time. Supporting them, addressing their specific needs, and making the work environment as easy to maneuver as possible are the best ways to increase productivity when motivation is already high.

In addition to virtues, the shortcomings of nonprofits are another great reason to engage in servant leadership. Nonprofits may address a wide range of social issues, but they share many common challenges: being low on funds, having too few staff, and not having enough resources. Even large, multi-million dollar nonprofits have a limited ability to pay market rate wages. New nonprofits face these challenges and more, as their novelty and presumably small size makes them greatly vulnerable (Bielefeld, 2014). This gives the impression that nonprofits are at a disadvantage. Indeed, being at a disadvantage is far from anything new to nonprofits, but, rather, closer to the norm. Interestingly, there are significant drawbacks to relying on monetary reward as an incentive, as many for-profits do. Most importantly, it breeds fickle employees. Just like there is always a bigger fish, someone elsewhere will always be able to offer a bigger paycheck.

Clearly, nonprofits must rely on something more substantial than monetary reward. If an employee must accept that their work will not garner as many financial gains as compared to a similar position in the for-profit world, the last thing they want is to be led around by a totalitarian who doesn’t seem to respect their input and views them as replaceable commodities. Indeed, that would not be an easy environment to be in regardless of the sector. Additionally, nonprofit workers may be asked to go above and beyond their duties with no increase in tangible incentives. When this happens, knowing there is a leader who will do their best to address their employees’ needs is a great source of security and makes accepting the new obligations less daunting. The vanguard to overcoming these challenges can only be leadership, and servant leadership addresses these issues particularly well.

Servant leadership does not need to be the only management mechanism employed. Other models, ideas, and practices can blend well with servant leadership. For example, the 7 virtues of effective leaders, courage, integrity, humility, reverence, optimism, compassion, and justice, all fit perfectly under the frame of servant leadership (Johnson, 2017). If a leader views putting the needs of her or his staff as primary importance, they are then free to continue instilling motivation in a variety of ways. It is clear that embracing the unique traits and challenges of nonprofits is crucial to implementing good leadership. Servant leadership highlights these features, while empowering individuals to contribute as much as they can to something they believe in. It is no surprise, then, that this technique is rising in popularity.

Eudaimonia in the Third Sector

By: Kyle Pate

What is eudaimonia, and what does it mean for leaders in the social sector? Eudaimonia is the satisfaction in living a virtuous life (Britannica).  Leaders in the third sector can better serve their organizations by achieving eudaimonia through practicing the ethical virtues outlined by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Unlike other exhausting processes of performing ethical evaluations (Johnson, 2013), Aristotle’s philosophy offers a way to become an ethical leader as a lifelong practice.

Being a Virtuous Person

In Aristotle’s view, the way to develop ethical thinking is to emanate another virtuous person. One should find a moral exemplar, and follow their lead. This person could be someone President Obama or Oprah. According to Aristotle, the ability to be ethical is part of our human nature, and to pursue being a virtuous person is the life-long function of being a human. One’s moral exemplar does not need to be perfect, but there are certain virtues they should habitually practice (Rayner, 2011):

  1. Courage
    Act with bravery and valor. We are seeking the perfect center between cowardice and recklessness.
  2. Temperance
    Seek to offer what is appropriate for the situation, but do not censor ourselves into silence.
  3. Liberality
    This shouldn’t be hard for those in the third sector! Share generously, giving what can be offered freely.
  4. Magnificence
    Aristotle believed a virtuous person could be found through simple observation. Be radiant and charismatic in one’s affairs.
  5. Pride
    Not to be confused with one of the seven sins, the virtue of pride is taking satisfaction in one’s work. Like a craftsman who finished a magnificent piece, one should feel pride in their mastery.
  6. Honor
    Aristotle glorified fraternal love and respect. Virtuous honor is not only about one’s character, but creating a culture of honor through reverence for others.
  7. Good Temper
    As a leader, remain level headed and considerate.
  8. Friendliness
    Despite the situation, it is virtuous to maintain a friendly manner. Imagine a courteous southern politician gracefully ignoring a reporter’s pointed question.
  9. Truthfulness
    Be frank with others.
  10. Wit
    Like a gracious host or charismatic speaker, a smart sense of humor will earn a person favor and illumine their virtue .
  11. Camaraderie
    Aristotle believed in brotherly love, extending a hand to fellow man. Revel in camaraderie with others.
  12. Justice
    Judge with impartiality and fairness.

Achieving Eudaimonia

Leaders who follow Aristotle’s philosophy become ethical through practicing the virtues in all their affairs. The ethical focus is shifted from a situational response, to pattern of behavior. Psychologists posit that moral principles are often a matter of instinct rather than rationality (Johnson, 2013). Aristotle’s philosophy of virtue supports this view, recommending individuals develop their instinctual response through habitual practice of virtuous behavior.

Ethical leaders are to avoid “vices” in search of the golden mean (Nicomachean Ethics). Every virtue has the potential to become destructive, or simply distasteful (either in violation of virtuosity.) Eudaimonia is achieved through the moderation of behavior towards the golden mean, and away from extremes. Join in camaraderie, but do not fall to tribalism. Practice impartiality, but do not become disassociated. Be jovial, but not inattentive.

Aristotle’s is an advantageous moral framework in the third sector. A leader’s decision-making is dominated by perspective of a spectator. Virtue ethics are intentionally ambiguous, requiring an actor to view themselves in third person to assess their own behavior. The “right” thing to do is defined by following what a perfectly virtuous person would do in any given situation. Such conduct will ingratiate leaders with donors, foster strategic partnership, and shine in service to the organization’s constituents.

 

Leadership for Social Value Organizations

valuebased
Image Source: http://pt.slideshare.net/TikiWen/value-based-leadership-50056805/31

Leadership for Social Value Organizations

By Julie Brown, MNA ’17

With the rise of corporate responsibility among for-profit corporations and the creation of benefit corporations and low-profit limited liability companies (Cooney, Koushyar, Lee, & Murray, 2014), the nonprofit sector is expanding and in the midst of being redefined. The leaders of these socially minded organizations are finding innovative ways to address social issues, redefining ways to measure social impact, creating new funding models, and are putting pressure on the nonprofit sector to professionalize. Today’s nonprofit leaders are being challenged to compete with these social enterprises while also being held to a higher set of ethical standards    (Bowman, 2012). The ethical standards are substantially higher in the nonprofit sector because their mission is to provide a social benefit with income generated through donations and grants.

In order to keep up with the sector changes and its high ethical standards, it is difficult to find a nonprofit leader who possesses the experience and the skillsets needed to manage through changes such as these (Callanan, Gardner, Mendonca & Scott, 2014). According to Harry Jansen Kraemer, Jr. (2011).” Today, there is a widespread lack of confidence in leadership, in business, government, education and elsewhere. Every leader needs to regain and maintain trust. Value based leadership may not be a cure for everything that ails us, but it’s definitely a good place to start.” A value-based leader makes decisions and actions rooted in the leader’s ethical and moral foundation (Copeland, 2014). A leader’s values may include, but are not limited to honesty, open communication, humility, integrity, hard work, and compassion (Rao, 2015). By employing their values, a nonprofit leader not only makes decisions based on what’s right for the organization, but they also encourage others to act in a similar manner (Ethical Leadership, 2013). Even though they are leading their organization through difficult times and may not possess all the skillsets needed, a value based leader is able to instill a culture of ethical behavior among employees and volunteers, seek new revenues sources that align with their organization’s mission and the sector, and help create a sustainable organization.

Regardless of an organization’s size or mission, employees and volunteers alike respond to the moral cues of their leaders. The tone a nonprofit leader sets is critical in an organization’s culture of integrity (Ethical Leadership, 2013). Since no two people have the same set of values or moral judgment, a value based leader adopts and enforces a code of conduct and ethical policies to help clarify what is expected, to try and deter misconduct, promote trust, and minimize conflicts of interests (Rhode and Packel, 2009). Employees and volunteers look to the leader to determine what behavior is acceptable and what is not and will emulate those behaviors. The value-based leader encourages and sometimes demands others in their organization act in a similar fashion.

The leader’s values not only influence employees and volunteers, but also impact donors and the organization’s ability to fundraise. The values of the nonprofit’s leader play a critical part when it comes to earning and maintaining the trust of donors and managing their donations in an effective and transparent manner. With the value based leadership approach, the leader values doing what is right for the organization over the dollars (Rao, 2015). This isn’t to say value based leaders do not care about money; instead, the values of the leader and the organization make sure the revenue sources align with the values of the organization and are used effectively.

In addition, while developing new revenue streams, the value-based leader considers how clients and donors might view these new streams. The leader also considers which revenue generating activities are appropriate for the sector (Bowman, 2012)According to M.S. Rao (2015).” When leaders put profits before values and elevate their interests above others, their businesses are bound to collapse.”

A nonprofit leader has an important role in how an organization fulfills its mission. They also play an integral part in setting and enforcing the values and culture of the organization. Employees and volunteers reflect the values and ethics modeled by their leader. Donors look to the values of a nonprofit organization to determine whether they will invest their dollars or not. The values a leader exhibits in a nonprofit organization often outlive their tenure and can help or hinder the organization in the future. With the entrance of new social impact models, the call for increased transparency, the need to diversify revenue streams and report on the organization’s social impact, nonprofit leaders are faced with a diverse and complex set of challenges. In today’s environment, it is unlikely that a nonprofit leader will possess the experience or all the skillsets needed to lead through these changes. Despite all the challenges a nonprofit leader may face and the high expectation placed on them, a value based leader approach can help navigate through these complexities. By staying true to their values and doing what is right for the nonprofit organization, a value-based leader is able to effectively lead their organization through difficult situations and uncertain times. Not only will the strong ethics of the leader shine through, the strong ethics and values will live on within the organization for years to come.

 

Nonprofit Labor Force

Yeswecan-Nonprofits

Too many people still don’t know or underestimate the labor and economic force of the nonprofit sector.  The reality is that nonprofits provides 11.4 million jobs, accounting for 10.3% of the United States total workforce in 2012 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014). Between 2000 and 2010 the nonprofit employment grew at about 18%, a faster rate than the overall U.S. economy (The Independent Sector – The Urban Institute, 2012). The nonprofit workforce is the third largest of all U.S. industries behind retail trade and manufacturing (Center for Civil Society Study, 2012).

The University of San Francisco’s MNA Program is located A few minutes away from Rosie the Riveter Museum, a National landmark commemorating the power of women in the workforce during WWII (Rosie Visitor Center). The museum, with the weekly presence of the few still living ‘Rosies’ is a  powerful reminder of what is possible during difficult times and with the determination of workers (mostly women) serving the country for a better future for all. The missions of our nonprofit organizations with its ambitious objectives mobilize many women and men to make the world a better place through health, education, advocacy, and many other necessary human services (Top NP Missions).

As we celebrate Labor Day in the Unites States (AKA May Day in the rest of the world), we recall the importance of integrating hard work with justice and dignity in the workplace. This is why nonprofits generally do not just strive to work efficiently and effectively for their services but also advocate for adequate policies and recognition of human rights, labour rights, environmental rights and other specific rights like disability, children, indigenous, etc. Integrating production with justice has been at the root of labor struggle and continues to be a priority in the nonprofit sector along social movements and unions seeking worker’s justice and dignity. This integration is inherently true in our social missions and it is gradually much better integrated in our own nonprofit workplaces (Overtime Regulations 2016).

The nonprofit sector, also known as the voluntary sector, is also rapidly professionalizing and requiring appropriate normative, comparative standards and specialized educational programs (see NACC). Of course the main drive for nonprofit workforce remains its dedication to the cause and ‘transformational leadership.’ But the value-based and mission-driven characteristics of ‘transformational leadership’ cannot be sustainable unless based on a relation of justice, dignity and fairness. In other words, the transformational spirit and dedication of the nonprofit workforce is and must be based on clear standards of transactional (contractual) leadership that aims at promoting fairness by avoiding exploitation while stimulating creativity and social innovation (Tavanti, 2008).

Nonprofit Women Leadership

Wilp-usfca
www.usfca.edu/giving/women

One societal gender bias characterizes women as ‘we-take-care’ and men as ‘we-take-charge.’ A recent study by The American Association of University Women (AAUW) explains this Barriers and Bias about advancing women in leadership across sectors. At the time of this posting, the United States is celebrating the breaking of another glass ceiling in public leadership with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nomination as the Democratic Presidential Nominee  (June 7, 2016).  The nonprofit sector offers some of the most frequent and innovative examples for women leadership. Numerous women leaders in innovative nonprofits and social enterprises have been able to show the world how to effectively combine competence with compassion.

Millennial women and other generations want to lead and prefer work environments where they can make a difference and better balance work with life. Women in the nonprofit sector are more likely to express leadership and ‘take charge’ partly because they know they can make a difference in society. The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2014 “Untapped Potential of Women in Nonprofits” found that women – who make up 75 percent of the nonprofit workforce – hold leadership positions (57%) or aspire to have a leadership position (72%). Although leaders of large nonprofits (budgets of more than $25 million) are only 20% women, they are still better than businesses where only 20 CEOs are women in Fortune 500 companies.

The MNA Program aims at promoting competencies and capacity building for women leadership in the nonprofit sector. This is not a gender exclusive agenda. Rather, it is a call for organizational transformation where innovative and inclusive leadership practices can effectively reconcile tasks with people orientation, executive leadership with societal intelligence, and financial prosperity with mission and service. The University of San Francisco is also invested in the promotion and recognition of women in leadership and philanthropy as recognized in the WILP initiative.

Learn more about nonprofit women leadership:

 

Doing Good Better

doing-good-better-how-can-i-make-the-biggest-difference-4-638
http://www.effectivealtruism.com

Ethical leadership is at the core of the MNA program. After all, doing good well (and do not harm now and later) are two sides of the coin for effective philanthropy. Doing some-good from good-intentions is not longer enough! Also being a silent member of society without active engagement for the common good is not longer and excuse. The social responsibilities of each one of us toward a more inclusive economic systems, more effective social services, and more sustainable solutions are extended also to our organizations — no matter if they are nonprofits, businesses, or public institutions. Peter Singer, beginning from his challenging ethical call for ‘The Life You Can Save’ has been a vocal and inconvenient reminder of our collective, systemic and leadership ethical responsibility to make the world a better place through effective, innovative and scalable solutions.

Learn more directly from him here:

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