Monday, February 9, 2009

Trickle Up Leadership

This past Sunday was an article about the challenges seen at Sony Music relating to the leadership of Rick Rubin. Mr. Rubin (pictured above) is a great music producer and the thought was that he would be able to bring his success to a role as President/CEO. According to the article, it has not quite worked that way.

I equate this similarly to what happens in non-profit organizations, where an executive may leave and a program director is hired to fill the role. More often than not, the organization and the program director (sometimes) realize that specific management skills are needed that are not present in the program director.

Why do organizations do this? Most of the time it is either out of a sense of loyalty to the program person, who may have been there a great number of years as the #2 or #3. Sometimes it is laziness as going through a search can feel like it will be cumbersome. Overall, it reflects a disturbing view of executive management as believing that these skills are those that can be learned immediately on-the job, which sometimes happen.

The motto is that one position does not mean or equal future success as another. This is also true for those in the corporate community transferring to the nonprofit world. Best way to get there is further education and shadowing before stepping into the role.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stimulus: Like a Vitamin or A Red Bull for Nonprofits

This week I read the 756-page stimulus bill. Front to back. I would say not the easiest read, but a client needed me to do it. When I was finished reading it, one of the questions I asked myself is one that I believe is being asked by political pundits from both sides, is whether this is a long-term or a short term fix for the economy. I immediately, with my non-profit goggles on, asked whether this would have a vitamin (long-term) or a Red Bull (short-term) effect on non-profit organizations. My thoughts are that I think it will be more vitamin that Red Bull.

Aside from the trickle down of Obama signing, to states receiving, issuing RFPs, reviewing and awarding and organizations receiving funds (mostly for education and labor) and organizations receiving and then spending will take quite sometime. But aside from that, may of the provisions are talking about creating long-term solutions. For instance, the Innovation Fund, which is aimed at awarding high-impact government-nonprofit collaborations around education. While the immediate impact will be funding to these organizations, the real impact is how this scale up model will have an impact on less-successful models. Some financial impacts may look like Red Bull, but really its a Vitamin approach.

Now the question that everyone is also asking is do we need a vitamin or a Red Bull. I am not a trained-economist, so not so sure but think I can agree that there is nothing wrong with taking your vitamins, might be something wrong with having another Red Bull.