Mark Athitakis is a contributing editor to Associations Now.
How to draw up a game plan for your next executives. [Titled "A Solid Start" in the print version.]
For many associations, a ladder is a weak metaphor for how leadership succession actually happens. Too often, it functions more like a carnival dunk tank. Senior staffers occupy a steady perch until a change occurs, plunging them into a role they might not be prepared for. That doesn't serve the organization, or the person suddenly in charge of it.
A considered staff development program has a documented impact on the bottom line: According to the Corporate Leadership Council, leaders who successfully develop staff achieve 7 percent more revenue and 6 percent more profit than the average leader. And the need to start that process is urgent at nonprofits. Research by the Bridgespan Group found that by 2016 nonprofits will need 80,000 new senior managers every year. Bridgespan manager Preeta Nayak, coauthor of a recent white paper on the topic titled Plan A, says the leadership gap is due to a combination of retiring baby boomers and a surge in nonprofitdom. "We're seeing growth in the size of nonprofit organizations," she says. "That's increasing the overall demand for leaders."
So, what steps can you take to get your staff on an honest-to-goodness leadership ladder—or to find out if you need to look outside your offices for leaders? Nayak's advice:
Mark Athitakis is a senior editor at Associations Now. Email: [email protected]