Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Unexpected Pleasures of Sector Switching

Are you guys sick of hearing me talk about Encore Careers yet? I recently tweeted an article I saw on the Harvard Business Blog--from Wayne Luke of The Bridgespan Group, singing the praising of working in the nonprofit sector.

On the tweet I called it "encore career evangelism." Luke is himself a former for-profit leader who has now transitioned to nonprofit leadership, and he wants to convince more Boomers out there to make the same switch. Bridgespan offers executive search services for other nonprofits, so his appeal strikes me a little like business development for Bridgespan, but here are the four things he describes as unexpected pleasures of sector switching.

1. Working for a nonprofit requires as much of an emotional commitment as an intellectual one.
2. Despite what you've heard, decisiveness is alive and well in the nonprofit world.
3. You can be flexible and patient.
4. Passion and purpose trump profits and procedures, every time.

I say Boomers because Luke's appeal--and the work of Bridgespan--seems almost totally focused on drawing Boomer leaders out of the for-profit community and getting them to "sector-switch" to the nonprofit world. And it seems like his appeal is hitting several obvious Boomer hot buttons--emotional commitment, decisiveness, passion and purpose.

As I've blogged before, Bridgespan isn't alone. Civic Ventures is another organization committed to the same goal.

It makes me wonder where GenX is supposed to fit in the nonprofit leadership world of tomorrow. I can understand a nonprofit's desire to benefit from the expertise of a talented for-profit executive. But if that executive is a Boomer, coming over at the end of a grueling for-profit career, should that nonprofit view that recruitment as a long-term solution to their leadership needs? Maybe if they can get another five or ten years out of a Boomer, that will buy enough time to allow Youth Venture to develop them a Millennial leader perfect for their needs? There's no one else in the marketplace they should be considering, is there?


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