Dr. Rick Arrowood explains the importance of leadership
Many people think successful nonprofits run on passion or altruism, but Dr. Rick Arrowood knows better.
“The most important thing people running nonprofits can do is to pass on leadership to as many people as possible, to engage them,” he says. “That’s how nonprofits work.”
For Dr. Arrowood, that leadership can come from almost anywhere.
“Leadership has nothing to do with titles,” he says. “Anyone can be a leader, from the janitor to a member of the board of directors.”
“Many times, when someone starts a nonprofit, they’ll go out and put almost anybody on the board of directors to satisfy the requirements for incorporation and tax exemption,” he says. “Five years later, they’re not any closer to achieving their goals than on Day 1. That’s because they did not start with a leadership profile of what the organization really needs. You have to design a board of directors from a leadership perspective – what does this person bring to this organization to get me and my mission moving forward?”
From there, nonprofits of all sizes need to keep the focus on leadership development.
“Nonprofit organizations, regardless of the size, need to have leadership education at every board meeting – even if it’s for only 15 minutes,” says Dr. Arrowood. “They should devote time to a different topic every session: teams, hidden conflict, how to work better together, passion. The key that nonprofits forget is that there’s this need to harness all of their human resources capital. They sometimes lose sight of that because they’re too focused on executing the mission or raising money.”
Developing those skills can make the difference between a nonprofit that thrives and one that never quite gains traction.
Northeastern University College of Professional Studies is one of 9 colleges of Northeastern University, a nationally-ranked, regionally-accredited private research university. The College of Professional Studies is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence. The College of Professional Studies offers in-demand degrees, from regulatory affairs to project management, education, biotechnology, global studies and international affairs, homeland security and geographic information technology.
Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master’s degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern’s research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 90 countries on all seven continents.