Being a leader in the nonprofit world

“Leadership is not a 9 to 5 job, ” Rick Arrowood told attendees at Thursday’s nonprofit leadership seminar.

The free flow discussion outlined the unique challenges and opportunities available to those seeking a leadership role in the nonprofit world. Arrowood, Associate Teaching Professor and Chair of the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management degree at Northeastern University, and Nancy Weinbeck, Director of Resident Services at Bayview Retirement Community and current student in the program, shared advice on how to ‘make a difference’ and lead others toward a common mission.

“Leadership is like a muscle. You do have to exercise it, otherwise is just lays dormant. You have to put yourself in situations to use it.” – Rick Arrowood, Chair of the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program

Passion may be an overused term, but Arrowood said when it’s there, you’re going to feel jarred into action.

“It’s magic, when you have a vision for what you see is possible and have the leadership capacity to bring people along with you and help the vision unfold,” echoed Nancy Weinbeck, who called her leadership role, within the aging field, life changing.

Arrowood emphasized the need for leaders to be self-aware and learn to balance continual learning and a desire for exploration. Continuously seeking greatness and advancement can have a downside of burn out and self doubt, he warned.

“If you haven’t figured it out your followers will be aware you haven’t figured it out, ” Arrowood said, acknowledging that at the same time fear shouldn’t stop you from proceeding. “Don’t be afraid. Who says it’s right? It’s your dream, your vision, go. You don’t have to ask for permission, but you do need to give yourself permission.”
Self-awareness comes with time and failures are inevitable and should be embraced, he said, naming resilience as a vital skill to develop and prepare for the weight of leadership.
Attendees with Rick Arrowood and Nancy Weinbeck at the nonprofit leadership discussion. Attendees with Rick Arrowood and Nancy Weinbeck at the nonprofit leadership discussion.

The seminar also discussed the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the nonprofit world from the tax deductibility of 501c classifications, the logistics and fiduciary duty of a nonprofit board, and the growing global prevalence of nonprofit organizations. Whether you are new to the nonprofit world, considering a career in nonprofits, or about to pursue a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management it is crucial to have an understanding of how nonprofit organizations form and how volunteers and staff move organizations closer to mission delivery.

“The management piece is critical,” said Weinbeck. “There has to be more than just a great idea. You have to know how to execute them, or how to get the people together to help you execute them.”

“We need people that are willing to go beyond the ordinary and see what can be done, not what always has been done.” – Nancy Weinbeck, Director of Resident Services at Bayview Retirement Community

Weinbeck said she first embarked on the Nonprofit Management degree at Northeastern University as a way to fulfill a credential to advance her career, but what she’s gained in the leadership concentration is beyond her initial expectations and includes a host of real-world, practical skills.

“I’m learning very concrete skills that are helping me in my current leadership role, like how to make sense of a balance sheet and what is good board leadership,” she said. “That’s the stuff you need to learn to run a business, because a nonprofit is a business, and you have to know those skills.”

Are you wondering if a Master’s degree can help you help others?

Master of Science in Nonprofit Management brings you a competitive and collaborative edge to nonprofits with current knowledge and understanding of the fundamental aspects of how a nonprofit operates and what skills are needed. It’s also ideal for board members wishing to learn more about their fiduciary duties, including their duty of care, the duty of loyalty, and the duty of obedience.

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