Four Suggestions for New Executive Directors

A recent article in KelloggInsight, a newsletter from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, shared the discernments of Alex Schneider, an adjunct faculty member teaching innovation and entrepreneurship.

Apparently, he likes buying (and selling) existing small
businesses, and he has definite thoughts on what those who do this need to know
once they become the new boss.  We so
often recognize the greater similarities between small for-profits and their
nonprofit peers than what these small organizations share with their larger
“same-sex” siblings, that it is no wonder that his four suggestions Read more

Nonprofit Leadership Deficit: Protecting Sacred Cows

In 2006, Bridgespan produced a report whose predictions shocked many people.

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Prediction one:  between then and 2016, the nonprofit sector was going to need to find 640,000 new executives to fill vacated positions.

Prediction two:  by 2016, we would need to find almost 80,000 such individuals per year.   The bursting of that bubble was delayed by the Great Recession.  But it would appear now that a slow burst has begun.  Executive transitions are upon us.

There is no question that a nonprofit is Read more

Dynamic Duo

There is, perhaps, no more important relationship in a nonprofit than that between executive director and board president.  One of the key challenges in this relationship is that it changes with regularity (or it should!).  Depending upon the organization, it may change annually, biennially or triennially.  In  some cases, the relationship may go on even longer.

Duration of relationship aside, obviously, the greatest challenge is dynamic of the duo.  There are times when executive directors embrace the start of a new board presidency with great joy Read more

The Name Game

Decades ago, I had a friend who was getting divorced.   She had taken his name when she’d gotten married, despite her feminist principles.  When she was queried as to why she’d done that, she said, quite simply, “My maiden name was worse.”

As the divorce was getting closer to being finalized, she decided that in addition to no longer wishing to have her husband, she didn’t want his name either.  Clear that she didn’t want to reach back to her maiden name, she decided she’d pick Read more

Job Title vs. Job Content

Based on reading CEO/ED profiles in various media outlets and listening to them talk, what the vast majority of these leaders dislike most about their jobs is anything related to HR.  The issue within this expansive area of executive director responsibility where I hear the most gnashing of teeth, tearing out of hair, and, most disconcerting to me, self-flagellation, has to do with the director of development position.  Executive directors beat themselves up because they can’t seem to “get it right;” as a result, executive Read more

Ignoring the Obvious

Willful blindness.  I have always loved this term—far more descriptive than some of its legal synonyms:  ignorance of the law, willful ignorance, contrived ignorance. No, this says it all:  a person glanced, didn’t like what s/he saw, so s/he suddenly becomes blind and can no longer see the behavior or the suggestions of that wrongdoing.

Earlier this week, a parliamentary committee investigating the wire tapping scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s media empire said that Murdoch was “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major Read more

Ignoring the Obvious May 4th, 2012 0 Comment

That’s a Philanthropist

Regular readers of this blog know that I worry a lot about the future of philanthropy:  are we raising children to embrace and understand philanthropy? Will there be philanthropists for tomorrow? What are nonprofits doing to secure their philanthropists of tomorrow?  What are the unique challenges of raising children to be philanthropists in a country) where advertisements regularly suggest that everyone can have anything s/he wants, regardless of its cost; where instant gratification rules?

But of late, I’ve come to realize that I shouldn’t be worrying Read more

April 26th, 2012 0 Comment

Introverts Unite…Separately

The second half of last century saw the spawning of research that uncovered the differences in how boys and girls learn.  It revealed the ways that most teachers encouraged boys’ learning and discouraged girls’.  As a result, enlightened educators and schools changed and adapted curriculum, pedagogy and more.

During this same time frame, we also came to understand the unique needs of adult learners, and pedagogy shifted yet again. Having male and female and adult and traditional-aged learners in the same class became, and remains, a Read more

We’re NOT #1

Rosie the Riveter is spinning in her grave.  I’m just spinning.

Newsweek’s cover story for its March 12 issue was entitled “The Rise of China’s Billionaire Tiger Women,” written by Yale’s own “tiger mom” Amy Chua.  Of the four women featured, three were aided in their rise by their husbands’ position, wealth and knowledge.  But I’m truly not taking anything away from them.  Back home, there are certainly American female billionaires, but Newsweek didn’t highlight them, preferring to examine America’s women’s standing in other proficiencies in Read more

April 13th, 2012 0 Comment

Waking up the Brain Cells


Today is your day.

You can learn what is right

And be off and away!

 You have brains in your head.

Yet dumb stuff you say.

You can do yourself harm

You can steer yourself

Any direction you choose.

But you might crash and burn 

If your mouth leads your brain.


The stupid things smart people say!

 Thank you, Dr. Seuss and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

One of the things some professors do as a semester draws near its end, and they are immersed in grading papers and exams, is to share “would you believe” Read more