Confronting Wicked Problems: Reimagined Leadership Strategies for Societal Impact
As funders, organizations, and communities seek to confront and solve persistent societal problems and foster systemic improvements in population health, poverty, educational disparities, and other areas, previous approaches to social sector leadership are no longer enough.
This paper explores our recommended leadership strategies for societal impact and a collaborative approach to reimagining what leadership looks like and how it works in nonprofit organizations. For example, who leaders are, the kinds of problems they take on, how they connect, and how they sustain themselves can be foundational and powerful in terms of leadership effectiveness and societal impact.
In this paper, we suggest 5 reimagined leadership strategies for societal impact for nonprofits and the social sector, specifically:
- Moving beyond the traditional individualistic model of leadership, and embracing the idea that leadership is a collective process;
- Cultivating and leveraging diverse, intentional, inclusive networks that draw from communities and groups that have historically been excluded from systems of power and influence;
- Equipping nonprofit leaders to maintain perspective and stay focused in fast-moving, constantly-changing, dynamic environments and contexts;
- Encouraging leaders to learn while they also do — marrying leadership development and learning together with leadership actions; and
- Making initiatives sustainable by providing institutional support and fostering a culture of resiliency for individual social sector leaders.
Each of these strategies has power on its own, but together, they have the potential to power a quantum leap in leadership effectiveness for nonprofit organizations. These reimagined leadership strategies for societal impact are what we need to address society’s most vexing, complex, and persistent problems.
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