Cultivating Leadership to Create High-Energy Nonprofit Organizations
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. Theyre 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 its leaders upon whom all organizations depend.
Simply put, high energy leaders transform their organizations. But it doesnt 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 understandingwhich reveals what Casullo calls your personal truths, as opposed to valuesis 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. Its 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. Thats not new. Whats new is that in the United States today, nearly all organizationsnonprofit, for-profit, educational, medical, governmental, religiousare 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 theyll only be able to do that with strong, engaging leadership.
Leading the High-Energy Culture is available from Amazon.
Reviewed by Peter Lowy