NPL 273  Introduction to Nonprofit Leadership

Readings from The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership and Management, Robert Herman ed. (1994)

Ch. 7  Executive Leadership,” Robert Herman & Dick Heimovics


1.      Robert Payton defines philanthropy as “voluntary (private) action for public purposes.”

2.      Executive must integrate mission, resource acquisition, and strategy so they are mutually reinforcing.

3.      Successful executives use four strategies:

3.1.   Accept and act on executive’s psychological centrality

3.2.   Provide Board-centered leadership

3.3.   Emphasize leadership beyond the organization’s boundaries

3.4.   Think and act in political ways


Executive Centrality

1.      “:Managed systems” models of role of executive:

1.1.   Agent of the Board

1.2.   Partnership/team metaphor

1.3.   Strange loops and tangled hierarchies

2.      Social construction model of executive

3.      Implications

3.1.   Nonprofit executives should take full control

3.2.   Nonprofit executives should work to see that their Boards fulfill their legal, organizational, and public roles


Board-Centered Leadership Skills

1.      Executive leadership in relation to the staff and in relation to the Board are independent & distinct (excellence in one does not guarantee excellence in the other)

2.      Effective executives provide significantly more leadership to their Board

2.1.   Facilitating interaction in Board relationships

2.1.1.      Listening

2.1.2.      Helping Board resolve their differences

2.2.   Showing consideration and respect toward Board members

2.3.   Envisioning change and innovation for the organization with the Board—challenge the Board consistently to think and rethink the connections among mission, money & resources, and strategy

2.4.   Providing useful and helpful information to the Board

2.4.1.      No surprises

2.4.2.      Problems are inevitable, but by sharing bad news solutions are more likely to be found

2.5.   Initiating and maintaining structure for the Board—annual objectives

2.6.   Promoting Board accomplishments and productivity


Leadership Across Boundaries—Strategies for enhancing external impact

1.      Spend time on external relations—delegate much of the management of internal affairs and focus on the external

2.      Develop an informal information network

2.1.   To develop information on possible futures, must attend meetings and lunches, breakfasts, legislative sessions

2.2.   Must be able to exchange reliable information without violating confidentiality

3.      Know your agenda—short lists of goals or outcomes that you see as crucial.  Three strategies for doing this:

3.1.   Dramatizing events:  dramatically or memorably connect public issues to the organization’s agenda

3.2.   Laying a bread crumb trail—point the way to important decisions

3.3.   Keep things simple—behaving as though the situation is simpler than you know it to be helps bring about more simplicity

4.      Improvise and Accept Multiple, Partial Solutions

4.1.   “Specific action should rarely be taken unless it is compatible with several different issues” (Huff)

While external relations are important, it does not mean that internal operations can be ignored.


Using the Political Frame—Effective executives integrate and employ multiple frames (Bolman & Deal) and do not rely on a single perspective

1.      Structural Frame

1.1.   Clarity in goal setting and role expectations

1.2.   Accepted standards and procedures

2.      Human Resource Frame

2.1.   Hopes and aspirations of members

2.2.   Delegation

2.3.   Define problems in interpersonal terms

2.4.   Encourage open communication, team building, collaboration

3.      Political Frame

3.1.   Assumes ongoing conflict or tension

3.2.   Conflict resolution skills

3.3.   Coalitions and interest groups

4.      Symbolic Frame

4.1.   Organizational reality is socially constructed systems of shared meaning

4.2.   Ceremonies, rituals, and artifacts

4.3.   “Vision of preferred organizational future”


© 2003 A.J.Filipovitch
5 July 2004