Fulfill the Dream of Leading a Non-Profit

by David Simms and Wayne Luke, The Harvard Business Review, January 2009.

The authors of this Harvard Business Review article have worked with several hundred private sector executives seeking to transition to social-sector leadership positions. Their advice to corporate employers? Start lending a hand.

Employer programs that help people move into nonprofits can make restless managers more productive and bolster a corporation’s CSR goals. This article cites a study where 9.5% of U.S. workers between 44 and 70-years-of-age have already moved into the social sector. Half of corporate workers surveyed say they would also like to make the switch. This article encourages employers to ease the way for executives searching for the right nonprofit second career. For example, they created a program IBM called ‘Transition to Teaching’ which helps employees find post-retirement careers in education. The program does this by identifying the skills employees will need, as well as providing funding for workers to attend the right courses as part of their professional development.

The authors argue that easing a transition from private to public service allows private sector managers to stay focused until they depart because they have a strategy outlining what they will do afterwards. Also, it may help build the corporate citizenship brand in the community. Another plus from using this approach is that it could help foster a greater respect for the professional development and skills required of leaders as they transition between sectors.

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