From 2020 to 2022 we saw what became known as “The Great Resignation.” That means that as some leaders left their leadership posts, others took their places. By now though, for some of those new leaders, the honeymoon may be coming to an end. They can no longer blame the previous leader for “leaving a mess.”
Listen up: It’s time for some real talk. If you have been dealing with that “mess” for over a year, it is now YOUR mess that you haven’t taken care of. New leaders who came in with promises of new directions, contacts, and results are now at a point where board members will start asking, “Where’s the Beef!?” (Look it up! It’s a dated pop culture reference!)
To start moving in the right direction (or move in the right direction more quickly), it’s time to answer this year’s biggest questions:
WHAT IF 2023 sees the end of excuses starting with, “Well, the Pandemic…” being taken seriously?
Yes, some things changed (like work from home expectations, in-person fundraising strategies, or who is willing to “show up” for your organization). But in 2023 I see a return to holding leadership accountable. What is the turnover rate looking like now that the dust has settled? How many people are we serving? Is that number growing again? Are we back to pre-pandemic numbers yet?
WHAT IF 2023 is the year we finally stop clinging to the past ways of doing things?
This could mean the way we deliver our mission, or it could mean the ways we support that mission with staff, fundraising, and outreach. If that is the case, I see a lot of organizations looking at strategic planning through a new lens. Whether their previous strategic plan is expired or not, it may be time to reboot now that things have had time to settle down.
WHAT IF 2023 is another (better) year of focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion?
These concepts that used to only be championed by a fringe group of “woke” activists, are now firmly entrenched as a necessary part of leadership strategies, priorities, and vision. The discussion will still be tricky though. No matter how much anyone screams from a rooftop that they have the answer, the reality is that this discussion is still one of questions. And the answers can be very personal and diverse.
What if diversity and inclusion become tools as opposed to outcomes? What if 2023 is the year we as leaders recognize DEI work isn’t about ticking boxes, but instead is about building a better framework for what we do?
WHAT IF 2023 sees a new trend in leadership of asking questions to broader audiences and listening and then asking more questions to engage new partners in our quest to deliver our missions.
I was recently reading about some of Plato’s writing about the human condition. The author starts by reminding us that Plato believed that everyone is born knowing everything. We know what is right and wrong. We know the intricacies of human nature and motivation. We know everything; we just need to be reminded of it and it will come back to us. Plato’s teacher, Socrates was master at getting students to remember what was buried deep inside them by using questions and answers, which raise new questions, to stimulate us to “aha!” moment after “aha!” moment on our journey to be better people, better leaders, and better societies. Hence, the Socratic Method is still used today.
Loose predictions for 2023 in the nonprofit space:
I predict that we will begin to uncover a new type of leader and leadership. We will stop looking to the past for answers about what to do in the future. The past can inform us, and warn us, but it can’t guide us. I predict that we will start to discover and celebrate a new, younger generation of leaders who ask two of the oldest questions on record: “What if?” and “Why not?”
About The Author
Dave Lenox – Managing Partner
Dave is the Managing Partner of Valtas Group. At Valtas, Dave’s focus is on providing clients the best resources available while working to achieve equity and inclusion for all in the non-profit sector.
Dave is an experienced leader with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit, change management, and organization design and management fields. Skilled in International Relations, Inclusive Governance models, Organizational Development, Social Media, and Training.
Over the course of his career, Dave spent over 35 years serving in leadership roles at Special Olympics; President and CEO of Special Olympics Washington (SOWA), Vice President for Leadership Development and Education at Special Olympics Inc. in Washington, DC., Executive Director for Special Olympics West Virginia, and CEO for Special Olympics North Carolina.
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