Skillsoft Blog

Building Leadership in SMB and Non-Profits

Strong leadership is absolutely essential for any organization to survive and thrive regardless of size and scale. It can make the strong stronger and offset competitive disadvantages such as lack of funds and resources. Likewise, its absence can cause even the biggest organizations to crumble.

The world of sports provides many examples of how important leadership can be. Looking back on the fall baseball season, the Boston Red Sox began with high hopes. They had a roster full of former all-stars and one of the highest payrolls in sports. They also had a new manager. But as the season unfolded, things didn’t quite mesh. Why? It became evident that there was very little trust between the manager and the players. Infighting ensued and the team fell to the bottom of the standings.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Orioles, a team whose payroll and overall talent pool pales in comparison to the Red Sox, have far exceeded the expectations most had for them this year. Why? The team has thrived under the guidance of a manager who has been renowned throughout his career for his ability to maximize the talent and production of his teams.

My role as an Inside-Sales New-Business-Development Associate puts me in a unique position to recognize trends in different industries because I generally talk to prospective clients during the early stages of their projects.

The most important questions I ask usually start with why: Why is this training important? Why are you considering elearning? Why will this help you accomplish your goals?

Over the last several months, I’ve noticed a spike in the number of non-profit professionals who have expressed an interest in elearning, especially in the areas of business skills and leadership development. Why is this training important?

While no two organizations are exactly alike, a frequent refrain in the non-profit world is the need for employees to wear multiple hats within an organization. Non-profits operate with limited resources, so it is not uncommon for them to seek to fill leadership roles from within.

If a social worker displays a knack for leading, they may find themselves with a new role, regardless of whether or not their prior education and experience makes them a good fit. This lack of formal training creates an acute need for employees to learn important skills in a professional and efficient manner, without the prohibitive costs of going back to school.

Why are you considering elearning?

Some prospective clients have mentioned that a lot of leadership positions at non-profits have been filled by baby boomers. As that generation has gradually begun to retire, the average age of employees has dropped. Tight budgets put a further squeeze on the number of available positions.

Many new-hires are recent college graduates, and they are being asked to take on more responsibility than ever before. These employees come from the information age and have grown up in an educational environment with unmatched integration of technology and learning. As a result, computer-based training is now a better fit for the learning styles of the average worker. There is now a greater need for easy-to-access training that touches on multiple disciplines and skill-sets.

Why will this help you accomplish your goals?

Much like the Orioles found innovative ways to compete with teams that have much deeper pools of resources, so must non-profits. In baseball, small-market teams can bridge the gap by increasing their investments in player scouting and talent development, and by being more deliberate in the people they hire to fill key leadership positions.

Non-profits must be equally as strategic in how they allocate their resources. Strong leaders are vital because of the multitude of ways they have a direct impact on the organization. Leaders must not only manage to the bottom line, they also must do so in a way that comports with the core mission of the organization and adheres to the directives of board members and stakeholders.

By Jordan Jurkowitz,
Inside Sales New Business Development, Skillsoft

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