Written by Caroline McAndrews
For the past several years, we have been researching and writing reports about how to work across generations and build leadership for social change in your organization and in the nonprofit sector. Once we release each report, we spend months developing exercises and tools for people to use to apply the findings to their own situations and organizations. And for years, you could only try these tools out if you were in one of our trainings.
This year, we’re trying something new. We’ve taken a sampling of the tools we’ve developed and added facilitation guides and background information for you to use on your own. They’re all organized and housed on this website under Leadership Tools. While everything is laid out in a specific order, you can also jump directly to whatever you’d most like to learn more about, or the section where you feel you need the most help. To give you a taste of what you’ll find, we cover the following areas:
Nonprofit Sector and Movement Context: The exercises in this section will help you assess and understand the challenges facing the sector, and both the barriers and opportunities for identifying new – and in many cases existing – leaders. They will also begin to surface and explore some of the assumptions we carry about leaders and their place in the sector and larger movement for social change. In addition, you will find suggested reports to read for more background.
Understanding the Generations and Bridging the Gaps: The exercises and reports in this section will help users gain a better understanding of their own generations, as well as discover the preconceptions held about others. Bridging the gaps and working across generations takes time and intentional practice. Each individual in an organization – not just senior leadership – has a part to play in creating a productive and thriving multigenerational workplace.
Role and Tasks for Each Generation: This section will explore individual leadership tasks and roles, and help users come together in support of the part each person has to play. From Baby Boomers to Millennials, each generation has to be mindful of the road ahead. Boomers should get in the habit of sharing organizational history, while Gen Xers and Millennials should focus their attention on skill development.
Understanding, Building, and Practicing Trust: The exercises in this section offer a series of reflective practices to help organizational leaders think about how to build trust with their staff and Board members. They can be done separately, but they are most useful together as one builds on the other.
Organizational Leadership Structures and Practices: While younger generations are seeking new models of how to lead that do not concentrate authority and responsibility in one top person, older generations want to adjust their leadership roles to look beyond their comfort zone of how organizations have operated to date. The report in this section provides background and ideas on the types of practices that push decision-making down and build leadership at all levels.
Navigating Leadership Transitions: As long-term leaders in the nonprofit sector think about life after they leave their current jobs, two things become clear: They are not planning to move into traditional retirement, and they want to continue to contribute to the common good. At the same time, younger generations are already leading, and making big strides. The exercises and reports in this section will provide helpful information for both sides to prepare for this transition, as well as future transitions now.
As you’ll see when you explore these tools, they are meant as a jumping off point. We’ll be adding more exercises in the coming months, but you can also find more detailed information, research and additional exercises in Working Across Generations, written by members of our Project Staff and Team.