Emerging in the Nonprofit Sector

Posted on August 16, 2007. Filed under: Nonprofit, Nonprofit Leadership Deficit, Social Entrepreneurship |

Lately, I have been pretty pessimistic about working in the Nonprofit Sector, but after participating in NP2020 I have become more hopeful. There were emerging leaders from across the country in attendance and each one brought new ideas and hope for the sector.

Over all, I saw that I was not alone in being pessimistic about the future of the sector. A lot of attendees were, but in the end I got the feeling that it may have changed for everyone.

In various sector positions, I have come across managers that not only have trouble managing, but training their staff and successors. It is hard being an emerging leader going out into the sector ready, in a sense, to save the world and being knocked down by a manager that does not seem to want to give you the help you need or not being mentored by more experienced staff members. My experiences over the past few years have lead me to believe the more experienced staff members in the sector were hardened and only cared about themselves.

In reality, they are all over worked like the rest of us, and do not always have time to mentor or the money to give out for professional development. My mentality as a Y-er did not help either. I was going out into the world thinking everything would be handed to me, but things have changed.

I now know that if I want it, I have to go out and get it, and not let overworked or bad managers deter my efforts. Older generations had to do the same thing. Great professionals seek out mentors from all different arenas and make connections with their peers for support.

Looking to my peers allows me to learn from others experiences and lean on them for advice. This does not mean I still do not need mentors that are more experienced, though. Having a great connection with some one who has been in the sector a long time is something every young leader needs.

Talking with more experienced leaders has opened my eyes to the fact that they have trouble working with us too. There are a lot of barriers that need to be knocked down before older generations and younger generations are going to be able to work together better.

We all want, and know we need to, work together for the greater good of the sector and our passions, but we do not all know how to do that. Each of us can take small steps, like seeking out our own mentors and professional development, to help sector become better for all of us.


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