The importance of leadership in NPO success Stellenbosch Business School Skip to main content
In all aspects of life, and for the longest time, great leaders have existed among us.

We’ve heard about great leaders in business, politics, and many other sectors that have existed throughout history, driving success stories no matter the space they are operating in. For Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) to stand out in their communities and carry out their goal with extraordinary efficiency and effectiveness, leadership development is crucial. Non-profit leadership development can help your organisation succeed on the outside while also providing many underutilised chances to add value internally. Let’s take a look at the importance of leadership in pushing success for NPOs and how you can lead your organisation to greater heights.

Why do we need leadership?

The concept of “leadership” is the same throughout the public, non-profit, and commercial sectors. The ability to grow and sustain a group’s commitment to working together to achieve something special is the foundation of good leadership. Whatever industry leadership is occurring in, it needs people who have been active and desire to continue being engaged for both individual and group success. The following, to mention a few, should be components of the leadership equation for leaders in all sectors:

– Meticulous procedures

– Clear objectives

– Appropriate reward and recognition

– Respect and clear communication

– Organisational skills

– Goal, result, and people driven

However, how that leadership plays out has some unique aspects depending on the sector.

Leadership in NPOs

Leadership is not only important in NPOs but it is also needed. There are some unique elements and factors that are linked to leadership in NPOs; the primary one being fulfilling the mission using both paid and unpaid resources. Most For-Profit Organisations (FPOs) use paid resources in the form of employment and purchasing any supply or service needed. With NPOs, a leader must operate knowing a different type of equity to that of an FPO leader. Equity within a community can be both financial and non-financial. NPOs’ work has a “social value” that cannot be determined only by applying the “financial value” calculation taught in the majority of business schools. The “worth” of people’s contributed commodities, donated goods-in-kind, and pro-bono knowledge and involvement that an FPO would otherwise have to pay for in a vendor relationship is another “in-kind” income stream that FPOs don’t quantify.

Because the “end goal” of NPOs is usually improving the quality of life; whether that be through enhancing education, helping people stand on their own financially and otherwise, using art as a form of expression, understanding and coping with a health condition (whether physical, mental, emotional or sexual), wildlife, or abuse, leadership within them requires a different dynamic. Some of the most successful NPOs often describe themselves as “learning organisations” due to the fact that they are always willing and ready to help anyone, understand social issues, and work well with different people. The type of leadership needed in an NPO is one that is not “profit related” like an FPO, and therefore an NPO leader needs to lead from a more “people-focused” approach. While some business schools offer great FPO leadership, it is important for you as an aspiring or experienced NPO leader to carry the leadership tools that are meant to make the world a better place by leading yourself, others and your organisation in ways that are ethical, responsible and sustainable. A Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership Development for NPOs from Stellenbosch Business School will give you the necessary skills to professionally lead a social sector. Spanning through a year, we understand that the work involving NPOs may require you to be out there physically, so you can study while you work.

You are not alone

As an NPO leader, you probably know a few other leaders in the same industry, and because of your work, you understand the value of community. The University of Stellenbosch Business also gives you access to a pool of leaders you can join through our student and alumni networks. Here you can engage with other like-minded people, and because we understand leadership, you get support from the faculty as well as lecturers and staff too. As an NPO leader, you are mainly seen on site of the cause you are serving, and internally you have to inspire your team to have the same values and goals as you, which means you need to lead and learn while doing it. Invest in yourself, your organisation and your people today by enrolling in a PGDip Leadership Development for NPOs.

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