Why Nonprofit Boards Need Thought Leaders

What is a thought leader? Do nonprofit boards even need great thought leaders? If you want your organization to be a beacon of inspiration and innovation to your community, you need individuals who blaze the path with creative strategy and strong leadership.

Thought leaders inspire change.

A thought leader is a person who engages others to join their efforts to change the world in a meaningful way. They are the go-to people in a particular area of expertise. Others look to thought leaders for informed opinions. Thought leaders are in a position of responsibility, because others want to replicate their success—and that is a very good thing for your organization. Having a thought leader on your board can really bring much-deserved recognition not only to the leader but also to the nonprofit organization that spearheaded it all.

Why do boards need thought leaders?

Thought leaders in nonprofit boards

Boards need thought leaders to turn ideas into reality. Thought leaders don’t just accomplish much-needed change, they accomplish sustainable change which can then spread from one nonprofit to others for remarkable results. One of the reasons thought leaders create sustainable change is they don’t just talk about the change, but they provide a blueprint for people to follow, whether that is their own nonprofit board or others. These blueprints need to include your methods, the process you used, and guidelines as well as best practices. The goal is to build a platform for others to build their success.

Boards with thought leaders begin to become known for their strategic visibility as an organization. You will gain standing with the people who can truly help and support your nonprofit cause, and that of course is always a good outcome! The ideas of your board begin to be exposed to others well outside your nonprofit, and access to other people is the catalyst that starts making things happen. You begin to make more community connections, and connections with industry or professional innovators. Get ready to see your fundraising and mission outcomes drastically improve!

Who can be a thought leader?

Luckily, there is no prescribed formula for how to create a great thought leader. They come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, and from all backgrounds, whether corporate, church or community. It takes years of expertise and a stellar level of commitment, but most likely there are already individuals in your organization who can rise to the challenge.

In general, there are three important traits that a thought leader should possess–persuasion, status and authority. Thought leaders naturally have the power to persuade others, but the board must also provide them with both the status and the authority to move the organization in a new direction.

Look around your board, and see if you can identify any thought leaders. If not, maybe you should keep this need in mind when you recruit your next board member. In the meantime, are you being the thought leader you have the potential to be?

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