In this report, the Building Movement Project set out to identify and document multigenerational leadership models that do not concentrate authority and responsibility in one top person, with a focus on increasing organizational impact. The goal was to find operating structures that address potential barriers to effectiveness, including the growing demands on executives running nonprofits, the current realities of a multigenerational workforce where older leaders will stay longer, and the expectations and work style of new generations coming into the workplace with a strong team orientation. Research, demand and anecdotal evidence points to the need to lift up new ideas for leading organizations, but nonprofit examples have not been systematically documented.
What the report authors identified was less alternative organizational charts and more foundational work and practices that promote different leadership structures. The foundations – trust, learning, values and time – are key in developing healthy and productive work environments. Practices such as embracing autonomy, creating buy-in from staff and board members, sharing information, clarifying roles and letting go of control could be taught and reinforced in leadership training including with boards of directors. Finally, the point of sharing leadership is to have more success in our work, both internally and externally.