Often, we are approached by senior leaders who have reached a point in their career where they are either taking “early retirement” or wanting a significant change. For years, they have developed so many skills and abilities and yet, they do not feel fulfilled in what they are doing. Some may have been “squeezed out” of their companies, making room for younger up-and-coming professionals. Spending
2/3 of your time working and not believing you are “making a difference” can be really deflating.
When I am asked, “What should I be doing at this stage in my life?,” I often suggest that the person think about applying their leadership skills and networking abilities to the Not-For-Profit sector. There are some that still think that the typical NFP organization is “sleepy” – not forward-thinking – and basically a placeholder in one’s career. Nothing could be further from the truth!
With government cut-backs in terms of funding, all NFPs are facing significant challenges in continuing to fund their operations. Those organizations who have boards who are “forward-thinking” and “proactive” are already taking the steps necessary to bolster operational leadership in order to ensure the sustainability of their respective agencies.
I have witnessed first-hand the transformation of well-intentioned Not-For-Profit organizations as they consider hiring from outside of their sector. Strong leadership skills and business acumen coupled with compassionate dedication for the particular cause, have proven to be a powerful combination in gaining traction where there is significant competition for funding, resources, and skilled workers.
Thinking about your own career and all your accomplishments? How about volunteering at an NFP on a committee or board. If you do, you will quickly see how things “work” and you might want to consider applying for a leadership role as the “next step” in your career.