11 Leadership Skills Need In Nonprofit Management

August 26, 2020
August 26, 2020 Terkel

Predictably, a new generation of workers is demanding jobs that both pay well and are purpose-driven. Among the growing measures of job satisfaction is feeling like their work is contributing to something greater than themselves.

For leaders, finding a balance between satisfying your business’s needs and the needs of your employees can be tricky. What can you do to be the best possible leader in situations like this?

11 thought leaders and experts have provided their top skills that leaders need in nonprofit management to meet the double-bottom-line mentality of millennial workers.

Willingness to Adapt

Leaders must be flexible and willing to adapt. The needs and wants of many millennial workers are influenced by their lives, including their surroundings and what is happening in the world. If a leader is unwilling to adapt to the ever changing circumstances workers face, then you’re likely to see an increase in employee turnover. Collecting feedback is one great way to assess the different actions you can take to address the double-bottom line.

Thylan Le, Markitors

Show Them the Direct Impact of Their Work

The best way to meet the demands of millennial workers is to show them the direct impact of their work. Show them how their actions directly impact where your company is headed and how much revenue it is making. Besides paying them well, show them that their work counts and that they’re crucial for the progress of the company.

Jane Kovalkova, Chanty

Listen More and Talk Less

Listening is a vital skill when working for a non-profit organization. As simple as it sounds, listening more and talking less has to be at the forefront of decision making. As a leader, you have to listen to the communities you are serving. They know what they need more than anyone else and it is crucial to survey and listen before making decisions. Recognize that you are leading something that is much bigger than yourself.

Kenna Hamm, Texas Adoption Center

Give Them Credit

Leaders in NPM should lead by example and aim to generate enthusiasm. Millennials are fueled by enthusiasm more than they rely on coffee. Giving credit is of extreme importance as well, and asking, instead of commanding, doesn’t fall behind. Good leaders coach their employees and develop people, instead of driving and using them.

Snezhina Piskova, Oliver Wicks

Willingness to Adjust

Leaders must be willing to listen to the concerns of these employees and account for the double-bottom line mentality. If the next generation of employees feel like their concerns are not being addressed, they will have no problem leaving to find somewhere where they will be. Listening and adjusting are skills that will prove to become more and more valuable as more purpose-driven workers enter the workforce.

Denise Gredler, BestCompaniesAZ

Translate the Vision Into Shared Goals

A leadership skill needed to be successful in nonprofit management is to be able to articulate the vision and mission the nonprofit is addressing in a way that can move people’s hearts. Leaders that can confidently share their goals and why it matters will be able to easily attract supporters and followers.

Jon Schneider, Recruiterie

Clear Communication and Setting Expectations

The #1 skill you need to lead millennials is clear communication. A business driven both by profit and purpose has challenging and sometimes competing priorities. At times, your actions and decisions will not meet the expectations of your team members; especially if they lean strongly toward one side or the other. Clear communication, and setting expectations is the best way to remedy this. Tell your people why you are making decisions and how you believe it falls on the balance, and what the long term considerations are. For example, maybe this immediate decision is more profit driven and the next one will have a stronger mind toward mission. You won’t get it right every time, but the transparency will help.

Michael Alexis, Teambuilding


Employees are asking “why shouldn’t we” far more than the old “why should we” when it comes to things like work from home or other flexible work options. “It’s just not done that way” or “it’s never been done that way” are no longer good answers.

Matthew Lee, Learning and Development Leader

Creating a Purpose Driven Employee Experience

We are entering a new era in which the purpose of a corporation is evolving from the shareholder-centric model to one that serves to benefit all stakeholders. Corporations looking to thrive in this beyond-shareholder world must focus first on creating a purpose-driven employee experience, as employees have the potential to be a corporation’s strongest advocates and champions. Top leadership skills needed to manage this demand involve: Encouraging feedback, demanding transparency, elevated listening, embracing technology, focus and demand on advanced inclusion practices, rethinking how to train and develop workers and frequently updating workers on the “state of the organization”.

Mark Christensen, People & Partnerships

Aligning the Company and Candidate’s Purpose

I would argue that purpose-driven work significantly outweighs a “well-paying job” for most people, even us millennials. Everyone wants to be paid fairly—which is a hygiene factor rather than motivator. However, research has shown that most people will choose a job that pays less if they feel their work makes an impact. Leaders need to understand this and make sure their recruitment process is designed to find alignment between the company and the candidate’s purpose.

Philip Botha, Culture Advantage

Treat Your Millennial Worker as a Collaborator

Leaders need to take a new, flexible approach to benefits that do not simply rely on the remuneration package. They should consider what else could add value to the lives of the millennial that also creates something beneficial to the organization. Millennials do not want to be confined in their work—they want to connect, travel, explore and create. Allow this to happen. Treat your millennial worker as a collaborator and involve them in decision-making regardless of their level—this will make them feel like an active part of your brand and in turn, invested in its success or failure.

Rosalind Smith, Mauve Group