When Will the Next Leaders Flourish?

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Today's guest blogger is Colleen Kelly, Executive Director of Volunteer Vancouver. This topic is near and dear to my heart, as I work on a program to create learning and networking opportunities for the next leaders of Vancouver's not-for-profit sector through our Next Leaders Network. It's a completely selfish effort, as I think I might be one of these "next leaders", and certainly don't know exactly how or when the "next" may turn into "current". Perhaps it has already?

When Will the Next Leaders Flourish?
by Colleen Kelly

When I walked by the Water-Wise Garden in Surrey City Hall Park this morning, I remembered when they first planted this garden almost ten years ago. It is full of many different kinds of plants and there are signs by each of them that tell the story of their life - and the limited water they require to grow and thrive. And they certainly have done a lot of growing and thriving! Without watering.

Yes, this Water-Wise garden looked okay at three years and at five years - and yet it really did take ten years to be abundantly lush. Of course that caused me to think of all the community organizations with which we have worked. How many of them have been able to grow and thrive? We know the next generation of leaders will find ten years a very long time to stay in one place. They talk about job-hopping and how differently they see the world, so does that mean the community organizations will not flourish? Or will there be a new way for organizations to grow and thrive? Regardless, the sector certainly will not be the same.

Some of the current leaders are watching the next leaders very closely and are concerned they will not stay long enough with organizations to ensure they can grow and change. I would suggest the next leaders are much more about a cause - and ensuring their impact on a cause grows and thrives. They will not be attached to an organization in the same way we have been in the past. Isn't that good news? There will not be the territorialism we have seen in organizations, but rather a move toward everyone building for impact in a cause area.

Does that take ten years? As Virginia stated in her previous entry, in Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours of practice we all require to be very good at something. He says that takes about ten years. So will the next generation of leaders take ten years working at a cause to get good at having impact on the cause? I truly hope they will have an amazing impact in their first ten years and not just after it.

I would be very excited to see them make progress in housing, domestic violence, environment - to name a few - and one day beat these issues completely! Just like they beat the very admirable cause of "no watering" in the Water-Wise Garden at Surrey City Hall.

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