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October 1, 2020
 
Cultivating Leadership to Create High-Energy Nonprofit Organizations
Book - Leading the High-Energy Culture
Nonprofits, like for-profits, reflect the dynamism of their leaders, the most successful of whom harness the energy of their organizations to amply fulfill their mission, for which Leading the High-Energy Culture provides a detailed road map.

Although author David Casullo, a coach and consultant to Fortune 500 companies, directs his thoughts primarily to the for-profit world, the book should resonate with nonprofits, especially as the nonprofit sector will experience significant leadership change in the coming years as baby boomers retire.

True, nonprofits focus on making a difference and serving a cause while for-profits focus on making money and serving owners and shareholders, but both share important similarities. They’re shaped by defined audiences, governed by boards, guided by their respective industry standards, accountable to funding sources, and succeed based on their internal cultures and values. And it’s leaders upon whom all organizations depend.

Simply put, high energy leaders transform their organizations. But it doesn’t just happen; it takes skill.

As Casullo notes, “your confidence as a leader is a function of your competence as a leader. Your competence is a function of your skill. And your skills are learned behaviors acquired through study and practice. Each step in the process involves a skill you must develop.”

He takes the reader on a journey to develop a set of 10 skills, each of which builds on the previous.

Naturally enough, it all begins with knowing who you are ”“ identifying, clarifying, and confirming what is important to you. It requires deeply understanding the foundations of your thinking, feelings, and desires, the paradigms that guide these, as well as your biases. Achieving that understanding—which reveals what Casullo calls your personal truths, as opposed to values—is not necessarily easy, given that most of us act, based on a lifetime of experiences, without explicitly reflecting on why we act the way we do.

“Becoming a great leader is a function of your own personal truths, and to know these truths you must make time to reflect on and understand them,” writes Casullo.

In addition to its thoughtful discussion, the book offers special value through self-directed exercises at the end of each chapter, enabling readers to translate thoughts and concepts into action. It’s worthwhile, if hard, work.

History shows that the organizations most likely to thrive in times of change have had leaders who can direct the desires, energies, and resources of their stakeholders to specific ends. That’s not new. What’s new is that in the United States today, nearly all organizations—nonprofit, for-profit, educational, medical, governmental, religious—are experiencing unprecedented challenges on numerous fronts.

Nonprofits, especially perhaps because they seek to make a difference in a world where money is often the measure of success, can be a beacon for other organizations. But they’ll only be able to do that with strong, engaging leadership.

Leading the High-Energy Culture is available from Amazon.

Reviewed by Peter Lowy

September 2015
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