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Pablo Eisenberg
Philanthropic leader

Pablo Eisenberg

A Senior Fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Pablo Eisenberg served for 23 years as Executive Director of the Center for Community Change.

The Real Weaknesses of Nonprofit Leaders

The problem with the video interview of Paul Schmitz is that he never gets down to the real weaknesses among today's leaders.

The first of these problems is the lack of courage among our nonprofit and political leaders. They are afraid to criticize, go public with their views or risk alienating both friends and foes. How to socialize courage among our youth is a challenge for which few people have any answer.

The second problem is the widespread intrusion of ego. In this age of celebrity and star system, too many leaders, including our president, is overcome with the notion of the perpendicular pronoun ("I").

The third, which is the result of number 2, is the lack "collegial leadership," that element which John Gardner believed was the essence of leadership.

Universities and colleges should be a primary training ground for future leaders. Unfortunately, they are not. Chancellors and university presidents today are essentially fundraisers with little concern for or interest in communities, student activism (which is a courage and leadership-learning activity) or the content of teaching.

Good nonprofit practitioners who have had the vision and courage to accomplish a great deal are rarely found on academic staff. When they are, they are adjuncts or second-class citizens on academic staff. They are rarely tenured. They are part of the second-largest caste system in the world behind India. They, not traditional academics, are the ones who could inspire students.

Foundations could use more of their money to run solid leadership development programs, but thus far this has not been a priority for them.

So from where is our future leadership to come? One thing seems clear; it will not come from the examples of our politicians.

By Pablo Eisenberg

 |  October 14, 2009; 3:34 PM ET
Category:  Nonprofit Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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