#108 | Are nonprofits reminiscing about the past rather than focusing on the future?

This is the very last episode of our special Thanksgiving series on leadership transition in the nonprofit sector; and I was more than eager to reconvene my conversation with Liz who, some might recall, was among those who helped us launch the podcast 18 months ago. Liz kicked off our conversation with the notion that leadership is much less about any particular position we might be holding at the time and far more about the posture we maintain throughout the process. This insight resonates with several guests who have similarly suggested that while aspiring to leadership is admirable, always leading is a preferable way to learn and grow.

I have asked everyone in this series how we might honor the retiring generation, and Liz suggested that’s maybe not what it’s all about. Thinking of her own experiences, she’s only wants to be sure that she relinquishes her role in a timely manner and that she has left a beneficial legacy for the next generation. She was quick to say that leaders need to be willing to let go and allow the next generation to do what they will without fretting or worrying. Our conversation raised the question of how many organizations are focusing on the future rather than reminiscing about the past?

Liz wasn’t just candid about what the more senior among us should be contemplating. She also described the overconfidence of many young people today as a false bravado and suggested that an anxiousness many have about advancement originates from a posture of fear. Young leaders need to avoid the “us versus them” thinking and not be threatened by another generation. Young leaders also need to take the time to develop their comfort levels with ambiguity and change.

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