Skip the Mission and go straight to the Vision

By Chris Gandy

Perhaps I am being alarmist, but I am genuinely concerned that the NFP sector is failing to develop and attract the calibre of leaders needed to meet the demands our society is placing on it.

Not that great people aren’t out there, they are. It is just that as a sector we seem to be struggling to turn heads and engage them.

While I am continually being told that the problem is that NFPs can’t compete with employers in other sectors in terms of salary and benefits – I think this is only a small part of the story.

When you get a moment scan through the current NFP CEO vacancies posted on your preferred job board and mark those that excite you so much you would consider throwing in your current role with its associated package and be prepared to follow a new career path. If there are more than 3 you must have picked a great week!

This is not to say that the Causes being served by these organisations don’t merit a large pool of highly qualified candidates. Rather, it is a reflection that as a sector we still haven’t come to terms with the fact that senior executive recruitment is a marketing exercise. It is an opportunity to communicate excitement and possibility for the future of an organisation – and we are not seizing it!

High quality CEO candidates want to know that they will be expected to be proactive leaders of an organisation that sets the bar very high, is fiercely proud of providing quality services in its community and is eager to embrace changes that will enhance its effectiveness.

Typically, when organisations go to market they bang on about mission. They explain the purpose of the organisation and what they do – like this example from charity: water

charity: water is a non-profit organisation bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations

All good stuff, but consider when charity: water talks about its vision….

charity: water believes that we can end the water crisis in our lifetime by ensuring that every person on the planet has access to life’s most basic need – clean drinking water.

The power of a good vision statement is that it is a vivid idealised description of something you want to become. It provides a seductive image of an ideal future which serves to inspire and energise people. And the other great thing about vision statements is that they are not the exclusive domain of large not-for-profits, they can work for organisations of all shapes and sizes. For example, the vision of a small community service could be something like…

No child in our community will go to bed hungry tonight

Without doubt a powerful vision statement turns the head of far more well qualified candidates than a dry description of what you do. However, it doesn’t end there. Steps need to be taken to ensure the organisation has the capacity to turn this vision into a reality – which is the thrust of our Janus Leadership Transition Program.

When a CEO indicates they are departing we firstly work with the board and staff to restate the organisations vision. We then help align the organisation’s resources to ensure there is capacity to realise the vision and only then do we commence the search for right person with the necessary skills and attributes to lead the organisation to the ideal future.

Chris is the Principal of Cause & Effective – we are transforming NFP CEO recruitment

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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