Business has much to learn about management from well-runnot-for-profit organizations. Business also has much to learn about leadership from these nonprofits. Some of our greatest organizational leaders come from the nonprofit sector. Arati Menon Carroll, writing for The Economic Times, tells this story:
Many years ago, a journalist asked the late Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, who he thought was the greatest leader in the country. Drucker had, after all, consulted with some of the most eulogised CEOs from GE’s Jack Welch to Procter & Gamble’s AG Lafley. Drucker’s instant reply: Frances Hesselbein, the CEO of the American Girl Scouts movement. The disappointed journalist argued: But surely that’s only in the nonprofit world. Drucker retorted, “Frances Hesselbein could manage any company in America.”
Hesselbein was CEO of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. from 1976-1990. In 1998 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America’s highest civilian honor. Now she serves as President and CEO of the Leader to Leader Institute (formerly the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management). One of my favorite quotes from Hesselbein is:
The leader for today and the future will be focused on how to BE – how to develop quality, character, mind-set, values, principles, and courage.
Now, more than ever, we need leaders in all sectors (for-profit, not-for-profit, and government) to head these eloquent words. We don’t need leaders who put company share price ahead of the lives and livelihood of Gulf Coast residents. We don’t need leaders who put their end-of-year bonus ahead of the financial futures of millions of homeowners. We don’t need leaders who build enormous profits for their companies on the backs of minimum-wage, no-benefits, two-job, single parents. We need leaders who value the dignity and worth of all human life and make decisions accordingly.