Whilst there is a huge literature on leadership, ranging from academic
theories to ‘how-I-did-it’ books by business leaders, there is a comparatively
small literature on leadership in civil society organisations.

Three topics are common to much of the material:

  1. Content – what leaders decide to do
  2. Process – how leaders decide to do it
  3. Behaviour – how leaders conduct themselves.

One of the characteristics of any leadership role, and particularly that of
the Chief Executive, is the wide range of actions they can take and the huge
choice they have over how they use their time. Choosing what to do, when to do it,
how to do it and who to consult about it are all critical decisions that leaders
have to make.

In civil society organisations the pressures on leaders are particularly acute,
because they often have a large number of stakeholders – all of whom want some of
the leader‘s time. The pressures are greatest in organisations with national and
international reach, in rapidly growing organisations and those that campaign as
well as deliver services.

More on Leadership

Quick Reminders about Leadership.


Key Relationships CEOs Manage.


Characteristics of Effective CEO‘s.


Five Skills for Effective Directors.


Books on Leadership

Leaders Who Make A Difference
Leaders Who Make A Difference – Essential Strategies for Meeting the Nonprofit Challenge

Burt Nanus and Stephen Dobbs, Jossey Bass, 1999

ISBN: 0 7879 4665 6

Although written many years ago, this US book is one of the few that focus on the leadership of nonprofit organisations. It describes special challenges that leaders face and has a chapter on each of the six key roles that effective leaders play- Visionary, Strategist, Change Agent, Coach, Politician and Fundraiser

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It's Tough at the Top
It’s Tough at the Top – How Public and Nonprofit Managers can bring out the best in themselves and their organizations.

Debra Allcock Tyler, DSC

ISBN 1 9039 9169 2

Many people find themselves in a senior director or chief executive role without receiving much training or guidance about what leadership means at that level.

This book features top tips from respected leaders across the sector and each chapter includes critical does and don’ts.

Many books will tell you what to do; this one also tells you how to do it.

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Last updated: September 2014