Forces in politics, economics, and society constantly affect nonprofit organizations working on the front lines of enhancing the quality of life of the communities they serve. Nonprofit leaders need leadership skills to effectively manage the countless issues, personalities, and challenges they will encounter, and funders expect that organizations will be run by strong leadership. Lack of development and growth opportunities are often cited by nonprofit employees as a reason for why they leave their nonprofit organization. Given the high costs of employee turnover in dollars, productivity, and effectiveness, nonprofits have enormous incentive to focus on development. As part of its strong commitment to philanthropy and learning, American Express teamed up with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) in 2008 to confront the talent crisis head on and train emerging nonprofit leaders in the skills they need to move up, take on new responsibilities, and lead their organizations into the future. The result was the American Express Leadership Academy (AELA)—a program designed to address the special challenges nonprofit leaders face.
To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of our successful partnership with the American Express Leadership Academy, CCL embarked on an in-depth research project to better understand the leadership competencies needed for the nonprofit sector. Read more to see the key competencies leaders in the nonprofit sector need, where these leaders excel, and where (according to their raters) they need to develop to be more effective.