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Reflections on Independent Sector – Leadership Development & Communicating


I’ve been at the Independent Sector conference in my hometown of San Francisco the past two days. It’s my first time at IS, and I am officially an IS convert. Seeing colleagues from all over the sector–both in the hallways and on the couches, and observing the sessions and speaking in the sessions. It’s especially cool to see colleagues our age littering the podiums, the stools, and the stages of the sessions. Leadership development for the future? Heck no! Leaders NOW.

The focus on leadership development excites me. At EPIP, we’re all about this, so it feels good to be doing something that a lot of others are talking about, and it feels great that this movement is gaining speed. I envision a future where leadership development is commonplace among organizations, where generations grow and work together towards the common goals of the organization and the well-being of all peers.

I’ve heard and learned a few cool things I wanted to share with the EPIP blogosphere.

  • If you’re not getting any pushback in your organization, you’re not doing anything that’s important. WOW. Live it. Love it. Push (be smart).
  • Authority does NOT equal leadership.
  • Get some perspective… think of a dance floor, if you’re in the middle of it, you’re dancing, sometimes going a little crazy. If you get out on the balcony, you can see the whole thing and make wiser decisions. Allow yourself that time to step back, reflect, and move smartly.
  • Diagnosis is the most important leadership skill. (Then, I would add, making good decisions is the next most important skill.)
  • You are not the “purpose,” you’ve got to distinguish between that and make your case about the purpose. WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE?
  • Co-create people. Co-create!
  • Develop the muscle to hear other people and help them develop perspective about their own work and themselves.
  • Figure this out–what’s the 80% of your that is not open to change, and what is the 10-20% that is. If we can figure this out, we can get the work done.
  • Honor people, tell them constantly: “What you’re doing REALLY counts.”
  • Celebrate failure. At least you tried!
  • Think about how and what you communicate… draw people in and keep them engaged.
  • Talk to each other!
Here are a few resources I’ve learned about:
And if you don’t know about it, check out IS’s Initiative for Nonprofit Talent and Leadership. A few of EPIP’s Generating Change funders like American Express and Annie E. Casey are funding this initiative, and I’m hopeful it will help further the case for leadership development amongst our peers.
As always, onward and upward my friends. We’ve all got to work together to make change. I’m excited to continue working with you all, especially you amazing EPIP chapter leaders. Y’all make my work fun, inspiring, engaged. And most of all, you help me keep believing that together, we can do so much.



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