Something Worth Reading: Annie E. Casey Foundation Report “leading for results: developing talent to drive change”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation (website) has long held a distinguished reputation as a leader in philanthropy. They have recently released a report “leading for results: developing talent to drive change” that not only highlights some of the great programs they fund and lead, but also offers guidance for developing leadership in the non-profit sector. Of particular interest is one of the first sections, which lays out several competencies for a non-profit leader (keep in mind the Casey Foundation’s philanthropic focus on children).

Casey Fnd Report CoverBe results based and data driven, establishing clear goals and using data to assess progress and change course as needed.

Bring attention to and act on disparities, recognizing that race, class and culture impact outcomes and opportunities for vulnerable children.

Master the skills of “adaptive leadership,” which makes leaders aware of the impact of values, habits, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors associated with taking action to improve results.

Use the self as an instrument of change to move a result, based on the belief that individual leaders are capable of leading from whatever position they hold.

Collaborate with others, understanding that the capacity to build consensus and make group decisions enables leaders to align their actions and move work forward to achieve results

On the fundraising end of the spectrum we are familiar with the concept of competencies, but CFRE categories mostly cover knowledge and basic skill sets and experience. What I like about the competencies that the Annie E. Casey Foundation lays out in this report is that they are driven by behavior and approach, which can greatly contribute to leadership effectiveness and push individuals from being producers to being leaders.

A problem that one might have with competencies listed above is the challenge of actually measuring and assessing competency itself. Softer activities are more difficult to track and quantify. If one were to try to apply similar competencies to fundraising and development then it would be imperative to have each competency area correlate with actual metrics and performance expectations. I’m not sure that it would be something easily translated.

Still though, these competencies got me thinking, especially in the area of senior leadership of development shops. How many CDOs, Directors, Vice Presidents, etc. have you worked with that wholly or partially embody these competencies? Has it made a difference?


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