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Allyson Kapin 4 min read

Igniting the Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders

Allyson-Kapin-headshot1 As I was writing today’s post on how to support the next generation of leaders based on great advice from The Emerging Leaders Playbook, co-authored by Beth Kanter, I can’t but help but reflect on the leadership, passion, and out of the box thinker that Jake Brewer was in the nonprofit and civic democracy space. Jake passed away yesterday and will be forever missed. I know he would have added his own, insightful advice to this topic given his work. 

By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millenials. Yet most nonprofits operate in very old school ways and if we don’t begin to openly examine the problems with these dated structures, we will fail in setting up future generations for nonprofit leadership success. The Playbook offers some great tips in getting current nonprofit leaders to coach emerging leaders in order to better facilitate their leadership development.


Understand Your Own Leadership And How It Impacts Staff And Culture

In order to lead others you must be able to lead yourself. The best leaders possess a strong sense of self, demonstrate high emotional intelligence, and in general, are mindful, organized, and able to manage their work.

The Playbook focuses on the importance of defining and living your personal values. How do you articulate your values and what drives you to do your best work? The authors recommend that you start by writing your own personal mission statement, not for the organization, but for you as an individual and emerging leader.

Equally as important is building emotional intelligence by practicing self-management, self-awareness, empathy, and flexibility – something many nonprofits still continue to struggle with from the top down.


Lead Others

Being a good and effective leader is no easy feat. That’s why there are so many poorly run businesses and organizations that fail. The Playbook highlights the importance of building collaborative skills and focusing on collaboration beyond office walls. Defining shared values and understanding how to manage conflict, and being an active listener who does not rush to defend himself or herself or a situation is critical to successfully leading others.


Enable Idea Generation

One other suggestion I appreciated from the Playbook is to enable idea generation. There is a great post by Jon Steinback of Foursquare discussing how their Product Experience team gets together and ends each week with a creative exercise. He says “we’ve found it is a great way to keep pushing a consistent vein of creative freedom in our work.”

The Emerging Leaders Playbook has tapped into an important issue that many organizations are struggling with and offers even more insightful tips to help foster the next generation of leaders.



Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.