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Nonprofit HR’s Blog

Nonprofit sector executives face a unique set of challenges. They have to translate the organization’s purpose into everyday operations, delegate work, build culture and motivate employees to keep pushing toward their organization’s mission daily.

However, there’s no single best way to lead. Different nonprofits need different types of leaders depending on their missions and goals. If you’ve been tasked with leading or supporting a nonprofit executive search for your nonprofit, you need to determine what leadership style is the best fit for your organization’s needs. Today, we’re taking a look at three types of nonprofit executive leaders and discussing how to decide which one your nonprofit needs.

The Innovator

An attractive prospect for many nonprofits, the Innovator is a leader who is always looking toward the next big thing. A creative at heart, the Innovator can spark change and new thinking in an organization that’s gotten stuck in its ways. However, for an organization that’s already forward-thinking and constantly evolving, hiring an Innovator isn’t always the thing to do. Having too many voices advocating for change can create a lack of focus in your organization, so consider carefully whether you need this leadership style.

The Executor

The opposite of the Innovator, the Executor is the kind of executive you can trust to get things done. While they may not be the most creative thinkers, the Executor can be trusted to translate directions from top leadership into tactics to delegate to employees. For an organization that needs to streamline internal operations and bring focus to the team and its work, the Executor could be a perfect addition to the leadership team.

The Mentor

Are you feeling confident in your nonprofit’s staff? If you need to prepare for the future and empower your current employees, a Mentor may be the perfect executive leader for you. This leadership style is characterized by a focus on helping employees learn and grow, rather than simply getting them to follow orders from management. The Mentor is capable of helping less experienced staff prepare to take on leadership roles of their own. However, if you need someone who can quickly overhaul talent and culture problems and affect serious organizational change in short order, the Mentor’s inspirational and empowering leadership style may not be enough for you.

While these three executive leadership types represent the archetypical styles of managers, you’ll almost never run into a job applicant who fits perfectly into one category—and that’s fine. Your organization most likely has a multitude of needs that are best met by a diverse, dynamic and executive leader. Looking for someone who can combine leadership styles to complement all of those needs is a great way to approach your next nonprofit executive search.

Need help with your next nonprofit executive search? Get in touch with us. We have experienced nonprofit executive search consultants who are ready to help you find your nonprofit’s next great executive leader.

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