Why leadership is so hard

The scarecest resource in nonprofits is leadership.

The scarecest resource in nonprofits is leadership.

What’s the scarcest resource for a nonprofit?



The scarcest resource is leadership.

Good leadership can make the most out of scarce time and can raise money, but no amount of money or time can create good leadership (the travails of the Red Cross show that).

Seth Godin explains part of the reason why, “Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.”

Seth’s post points out that leadership takes courage. It also takes skill.

Some people who  have the skill to lead lack the courage. Some people who have the courage don’t have the skill.

As a community organizer, part of your job is to show leadership, to find the courage and develop the skills to be a good leader.

It’s also your job to find, recruit, and support other leaders. Bolster their courage. Refine their skills.

We need more leaders. Help create them.

2 thoughts on “Why leadership is so hard

  1. Andrew

    Could the difficulty of nonprofits in finding good leaders be an issue of supply and demand? The best leadership goes to where it receives the greatest return (an MBA and the private sector). The government civil service also has difficulty with leadership, and I’ve speculated it’s because good leaders find better money outside the government. If true, I guess that makes it even more important for those in such fields to develop their own leadership skills.

  2. Chuck Warpehoski

    There’s a lot of debate in the sector about the role of nonprofit compensation for getting quality leaders.

    It’s a tricky balance. One thing that makes it harder is that many foundations and other major funders measure nonprofits based on ratios of overhead to program funds. Most analysts say this is a terrible measure, because it doesn’t measure effectiveness.

    Where that fits in on this discussion is that it tends to cap nonprofit compensation.

    The other problem I’ve seen in some cases is many nonprofit boards are made up of nice people. Nice people don’t want to confront an underperforming Executive Director or fire an ED who isn’t doing the job.


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