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We need real progress

We need direction

We need to do good, better!

Learn about KLC’s
National Leadership Development Alliance for Nonprofits

For almost 14 years, the Kansas Leadership Center has worked to transform the civic and nonprofit culture of Kansas. The Kansas Health Foundation has invested over $50 million in the effort and now The Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative is helping us share what we’ve learned to those outside our state.

We dream of nonprofits nationally having more impact, solving tough problems and building healthy and prosperous communities for everyone. Especially now, given all the challenges of the pandemic, there is unimaginable hardship highlighting how critical the nonprofit and social sector is to the health and vibrancy of communities. We help nonprofits create a culture of leadership, and we have great success stories to share from Kansas. We want to spread this success beyond our borders. 

There are millions of organizations in our country whose sole purpose is to do good. And those of us who work in these organizations believe passionately that we are working for the greater good, every day. But intentions are not enough. The stakes are too high to praise effort without progress. We believe that we can work together differently to get better at doing good.

We feel compelled to help launch efforts like KLC elsewhere.
Why? Four reasons:

First, our nation is hurting. We want to help mend the civic fabric.

Second, we feel responsible to share what we’ve learned from 14 years, $50 million invested and over 10,000 participants.

Third, we crave colleagues. No other leadership effort in the nation has a similar scope, scale and focus as KLC.

Fourth, we are inspired and committed to spread this work because of a planning grant from The Fidelity Charitable Trustees Initiative (FCTI). Here’s a quote from our program officer, Sarah Gelfand:

“The Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative (FCTI) is proud to have funded the Kansas Leadership Center and recognizes the value of its approach to leadership development. The FCTI funding was intended to support KLC’s efforts to expand its impact and reach to a broader set of individuals and organizations across the country. I encourage any foundation or nonprofit to learn more about KLC’s approach and trainings.

The plan is to create a three-legged stool approach.

The first leg: A network of leadership institutions (currently being created by KLC) learning together and leveraging shared resources, all for the purpose of more progress on issues like racial equity, health and education. By working together and leveraging the open-source spirit of KLC, we can significantly drive down the cost of high quality leadership development. The goal is results, like described here, in every nonprofit the network engages.

The second leg: We hope funders of nonprofits will give access to this training to their grantees. You surely have nonprofits in your orbit committed to doing good. This effort will help them do that good, better.

The third leg: A commitment from KLC to support the network and make our resources, curriculum, teaching strategies, research capacity and backend administrative help available to the network.

So what’s holding nonprofits back?

To find the answer, the Kansas Leadership Center, i-D Leadership and Daylight conducted research that resulted in a paper titled “A Landscape Review of Nonprofit Sector Trends & Leadership Capacity Opportunities.” Below are key findings from that study.

1.

BURNOUT

Nonprofit employees—at all levels of an organization—continue to grapple with burnout. Those at the bottom feel undervalued and underutilized, while those at the top lack the support they need to advance the organizational mission. Traditional ideas of rank and authority should yield to the notion that leadership is an activity open to anyone, not
a position held by a few.

2.

Values Shifting

Today’s workforce demands equity, inclusion, transparency and accountability—without those values, organizations across the country are finding it increasingly difficult to attract, retain and develop talent. When these values take root in all aspects of the organization, they will drive more social impact and create healthier work cultures.

3.

POOR COLLABORATION

Organizations and teams that behave as though they are competing for the same resources may be reluctant to partner. Effective collaborations harness the strengths of each stakeholder for a shared purpose. To work collaboratively, both within and outside the organization, nonprofits should communicate openly, listen for opportunities for collective impact and treat collaboration itself as an adaptive change.

4.

FAVORING EXPERTISE OVER EXPERIENCE

Too many organizations equate leadership with a job title or expertise. To make lasting progress, it’s important to look beyond the org chart and value lived experience and unique perspectives as powerful human assets.

5.

ACCELERATING CHANGE

The world is changing faster than ever and nonprofits are struggling to keep up. To stay relevant, organizations must invest in human capital; teams must learn to recognize and adapt to shifts in technology, the environment, the economy, society and politics.

6.

RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

People and organizations are resistant to change, let alone constant flux. While instincts generally serve us well, they can also make us unwilling to change, which holds us back. Greater resilience throughout an organization can equip us to thrive amidst uncertainty. Shifting mindsets from fixing problems to learning by experimenting will help us embrace change and make better progress.

The KLC Approach

At the heart of every KLC program, virtual experience, coaching session or publication lie our five principles of leadership. Viewed together, you’ll uncover our core idea that true organizational leadership development requires the involvement of an entire institution, not a select few.

LEADERSHIP IS AN ACTIVITY NOT A POSITION

Too many organizations equate leadership with a job title or expertise. To make lasting progress, it’s important to look beyond the org chart and value lived experience and unique perspectives as powerful human assets.

1.

2.

ANYONE CAN LEAD, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

When it comes to adaptive challenges, we all have a part to play. Lots of people need to get involved, lots of people need to contribute time and energy, many people need to change and many, many more people need to exercise leadership.

IT STARTS WITH YOU AND MUST ENGAGE OTHERS

There are some things an expert can fix or a boss can order done, but as a culture, we’ve gotten into a bad habit of waiting for others to lead. The time to wait is over. No matter what your position, your age or your level of experience, there is something you can do to mobilize others.

3.

4.

YOUR PURPOSE MUST BE CLEAR

People have to care enough to do something different. Without a clear sense of purpose, nothing is going to change for you.

IT’S RISKY

If you’ve ever attempted to get people to work together on a difficult challenge, you know that leadership is risky. To be successful, you need to identify and lean into those risks.

5.

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