Recommended Insights
Recommended Insights

Confronting Wicked Problems: Reimagined Leadership Strategies for Societal Impact

Reimagined Leadership Strategies for the Social Sector and 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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June 7, 2020
About the Author(s)
Lynn Fick-Cooper
Lynn is a VP and Managing Director for Societal Advancement at CCL, focused on developing the leadership capacity of K-12 schools, colleges and universities; nonprofits; and population health organizations. She holds a BA in Communication and an MBA in Marketing, both from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Tracy Patterson
Tracy is the Nonprofit Sector Portfolio Leader at CCL, collaborating with internal and external partners to develop and deliver innovative leadership development solutions to meet the unique needs of nonprofit organizations. She holds a BA in Government from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Public Policy from Duke University.
Andi Williams
Andi is the Director of Population Health for CCL’s Societal Advancement Group, where she ensures high quality delivery of CCL’s health sector programs, as well as serving as a CCL coach and faculty member. She holds a BA in Economics with a focus on health economics and an MAEd in Counseling, both from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.
Valerie Ehrlich
Valerie is a Societal Advancement Insights and Impact Group Manager at CCL, managing a group of researchers and evaluators focused on work in the social sector. She also contributes to CCL’s work in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion by supporting the EDI research agenda. She holds a BS in Psychology from Stetson University, an MA in Psychology from the City University of New York (CUNY), and a PhD in Psychology, also from the City University of New York (CUNY).

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