Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

Tools for Reflecting on Leadership

A Vision for Change

Written by Caroline McAndrews

With each new report BMP produces, we try to capture new and emerging data and share it with leaders in order to help spread learning and ideas for building strong organizations led in sustainable ways.  Sometimes, however, it’s not always easy to put those ideas into practice.  When we released Vision for Change: A New Wave of Social Justice Leadership, we were excited to capture the voices of young executive directors of social change organizations who in many cases were taking over from founders.  We wanted to find out what was different now for leaders who were stepping into organizations with existing reputations, member bases, and missions and trying to build bold visions for the future.

We led trainings on the report, but it wasn’t until MacArthur Antigua (Director, National Alumni Engagement at Public Allies) approached me about building a self-assessment tool for Public Allies alumni based on our research that we thought harder about how to apply these findings to daily practice.  It was an exciting project, and together we built a tool that helps emerging (and existing) leaders look at their own leadership strengths based on what these diverse younger leaders told us it takes to do their jobs.  In other words – how can you really apply what we’ve learned to your own development, whether you are a new leader, thinking about becoming an executive director, or have been running an organization for 20 years.  We’ve since updated this tool, Vision for Change: Reflecting on Your Leadership and added it to our online leadership toolkit.  It can be used repeatedly over a period of time to reflect on skills in three key areas – leadership, management, and balance.

In the same vein, this past month we put out a new report New Roles, Few Rules: Planning for Purpose Beyond Position.  The report highlights the skills leaders need to plan and land in new roles likely to redefine their familiar notions of leadership as they enter their next stage of life.  Maybe not surprisingly, the same reflection and skills that are needed for a new leader are useful for a long-term leader who is deciding what to do next.  The report contains additional tools and discussion guides that can aid in that thinking as well.

Both tools are useful for thinking about what is needed beyond an ability to raise money or lead a group of employees – how do we define our leadership and the roles we want to take on?

Leadership generational change leadership leadership development partnership tools