Reward leadership—and the attributes of good leaders—in all grants and contracts

Not every funder will create a program exclusively dedicated to leadership development. But they could direct more resources for leadership development within their existing activities. Following this model, all funders could add on a percentage for leadership development to every project-specific grant, along with some mechanism to ensure the relevance and quality of the activities that are subsequently made available.

Best-practice funders and government grant makers look for indicative outcomes and ongoing assessment capabilities needed to measure results before they decide to support a project in the social sector. Similarly, funders might give preference to organizations with a deep leadership bench over those with a single charismatic CEO or those with a track record of collaboration over those that go it alone.

Funders can also promote scale in leadership development—and set an example for effectiveness in the sector—by investing in ecosystem-level approaches to address gaps in leaders’ skills. For example, funders could invest in codifying collaboration skills and developing a curriculum to teach leaders at all stages of their career how to be successful partners. (Since collaboration was rated one of the most important skills for social-sector leaders, this could yield powerful results.) But more important, and even easier to do, funders can reward organizations that show a track record of behaving collaboratively and cooperatively.