Exceptional NGOs rely on exceptional leaders. In the Indian social sector, a senior team’s competence is often the make-or-break factor in an organization’s ability to make strides toward such ambitious goals as providing equitable healthcare, ensuring high-quality education for children, or providing access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

Our findings were sobering…We found a systemic gap between the sector’s leadership development aspirations, and the reality of its investments and efforts.

For NGOs, we have identified Four Practices to effectively develop leaders:

  1. Build out a supportive culture and organization: Leaders and particularly founders must commit to strengthening their senior team, engage their boards in that process, and allocate adequate resources for action. Structures and processes must be in place to buttress the effort to empower potential leaders.
  2. Map leadership development needs: Leaders should clearly define their future leadership requirements, identify gaps in current skill sets, and set priorities for strengthening and supplementing the current team.
  3. Provide development opportunities: Working from the identified gaps in people’s skills, leaders need to co-write development plans for each individual.
  4. Set goals and monitor progress: Leaders should track implementation against each individual’s development plan, as well as set organization-wide leadership development objectives and then monitor progress against them.

None of this will be easy. But as Indian NGOs enter an era when “doing good” is no longer good enough, increasing impact will hinge on nurturing today the strong leaders of tomorrow. That will take not just resources but also a change in mind-set.

Read the full article about investing in Indian NGOs by Pritha Venkatachalam and Danielle Berfond at The Bridgespan Group.