Leadership & Staff Development in NGO

28/08/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

NGO and development sector professionals work in difficult and challenging circumstances. With limited resources and constantly changing, complex and dynamic situations, an NGO professional has to be on toes all the time to adapt to the environment. Working in this sector demands dynamic personalities, leadership qualities and management aptitude and skills.

  • Effective communicators:

Effective leaders are always good communicators, so is true in the case of NGO leaders as well. They know they have to deal with contrasting ends, like beneficiaries, donors, agencies, etc. and they are able to change their communication styles as per the audience. They get social and meet a lot of stakeholders, make networks and engage people for furthering the cause of organization.

  • Inspire and empower:

With their ideologies, passion, compassion and working styles, effective NGO leaders always keep inspiring others. Whether they are their own team members or donors or stakeholders, people look up to them as motivation and inspiration. They are thorough professionals and yet are compassionate towards people. They accept and enjoy diversity, be it within the team or outside the organization. They know that they are ethically responsible and accountable to their teams and even their beneficiaries. They motivate others also, to understand and behave in ethical manners, reflecting in the organizational policies, processes, and even day-to-day functioning.

  • They have their eyes on the goal:

They dare to ask a lot of questions to their staff, donors, and other stakeholders. They have the courage to put the ultimate objective of the organization at the centre, and constantly work towards it. They understand that social change and development is not an overnight process, yet they chart a map and strive continuously towards organizational goals.

  • Believe in transformation:

Over and above all, their best quality is strong belief in transformation. They have full faith in their own work, the organizational objectives and goals and the means they take to achieve them. They are passionate towards the community, are sensitive and resilient humans, believe in the cause and work consistently towards it.

  • Take initiative:

Leaders are confident, pro-active, and they take initiative at their field of work. At organizational and work (field) level; they anticipate problems and act in time to correct the situation. This also applies to self-improvement they actively seek. They are always looking for opportunities for betterment of their own self and their teams. This makes them great team workers, and they can do it because they are focused on the larger goal. Their pro-active instinct also makes them identify opportunities and ways to make best use of them. Such people can truly be assets to the organization.

Staff Development in NGO

There are many different reasons to provide training and development for staff in the NGO sector. One of the key reasons to ensure staff development and skills strengthening is the fact that the NGO sector has such a significant impact globally which impacts communities, beneficiaries and donors. In fact, the number of people expected to donate to charities by 2030 is 2.5 billion, and 80% of the global population believe that NGOs make it easy to be involved in positive social change. The scale of the sector is clear when you consider that “if NGOs were a country, they would have the 5th largest economy in the world”. With that kind of power comes great responsibility, and the importance of staff development is thus undeniable.

Building safeguarding practices

Another key reason for staff development is the building of safeguarding practices. Following the revelations in 2018 of widespread abuse by certain INGOs of both beneficiaries and internal staff, there has been growing reflection within the sector about what can be done to better promote safeguarding. Safeguarding is defined here as “All actions taken by organisations to protect their personnel from harm and from harming others”. While many organisations could simply require staff to undertake mandatory online courses (where they complete a multiple choice test to attain a safeguarding certificate), there has been recognition instead that serious shifts in practice are required to protect beneficiaries, staff and the sectors reputation and thus its ability to make positive change at a global and local level.

Building organisational capacity

It may seem that building the talent of your staff could lead only to their individual capacity, but programmes has shown that promoting staff development leads to more loyal staff, who are willing to stay within an organisation and in doing so build organisational capacity. “If talented staff (and volunteers) feels unappreciated, they will move to another job, taking their skills and knowledge capital away from your organisation”. One way to ensure staff feel appreciated is to spend time and money on building their skills, and strengthening their capacity to make good decisions, engage effectively and promote positive change within the sector.

Building better leaders

Arora argued in 2012 that “it is estimated that in India alone, over half a million new senior managers will have to be developed for leadership positions … what is also apparent, is that many of these jobs will be filled by individuals recruited from outside the sector who will have had limited experience of running non-profits at senior level”. What better way to ensure the sector thrives than to develop the future leaders of the NGO sector from within the sector? This means actively and consciously working with current staff to strengthen their skills, develop their leadership and managerial knowledge and expertise, and, in doing so, promote a participatory organisational culture.

Build a mentoring culture: Often NGOs look outside of the organisation for training and support in staff development, when they could be drawing on the skills and expertise within their organisation. This means creating mentoring or coaching programmes for new staff, and mentoring mid-career professionals who want to take on management level roles in the future. Darrell Foster, Head of Learning & Development, recently wrote “good leaders always have a vision and purpose. They not only visualise the future themselves but share their vision”. This is what mentoring is able to promote – a shared vision, shared skills and shared learning.

Build your box: Some great advice keep a box that you fill with important information, highlights, experiences which you will be willing to give to the person who eventually takes over your role. I think this advice can be extended to capacity strengthening so that we should each keep a box of lessons, highlights, notes and anecdotes, which we can share with colleagues or reflect on in our own time. This box should be a reminder of where we’ve come from and what we’ve learnt, how we’ve developed and where we want to go. It should also be a reminder of what we still want to learn and skills we think would be useful in helping us be the best we can be. This should be shared with your manager, so they know how they can help you build your capacity.