Telling YNPN’s Unique Story of Managing and Developing Leaders

Telling YNPN’s Unique Story of Managing and Developing Leaders

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Over the past couple of months I’ve been conducting interviews with new and veteran YNPN National board members that have given me the chance to take the ideas I’ve developed over the years about talent management, the online research I’ve been immersed in most recently, and use it all to build an overarching narrative - the “YNPN Story”, if you will - about how our organization matches its ambitious goals with the leadership needed to accomplish them.

I wanted to find out how and why YNPN develops leaders in the particular way we do; what distinguishes our culture from the way other organizations operate; how our mission functions day-to-day through our work on the ground. I became curious about the themes that emerged in the interviews: the common joys and challenges these leaders had working in the nonprofit sector and with YNPN; the shared values that guided them in their professions and in building  "a movement activating emerging leaders to advance a diverse and powerful social sector".

I learned that there are many core values that distinguish YNPN and our approach to managing and developing talent.  I’ll be pulling these together into a complete report, but here are some highlights so far:

  • YNPN is powered by highly intelligent (yet accessible), self-starting, resourceful leaders who are devoted to the nonprofit sector at large, to their chapters, and to collaborating with and mutually supporting each other.
  • YNPN provides explicit and implicit opportunities for professional growth and learning, no matter one’s age or experience level. YNPN’s very structure and leadership development model (chapters run by all-volunteer boards) propels its leaders’ careers to new levels.
  • YNPN is committed to addressing the challenges that come with being an almost entirely volunteer-driven organization, including leadership turnover, limits on capacity, and the need for greater accountability and institutional memory.
  • YNPN’s increased visibility and influence in the nonprofit sector, combined with rapid national and chapter level growth, require greater and more specific attention to the systems and structures it has in place to develop, manage and sustain both volunteer and paid staff.

Really great to see these themes emerge.  Again, the full report will be shared soon, but what’s the goal of it? Trish and I aim to make it useful both internally and externally, so we can:

  • ensure that attention to organisational culture and talent management are a central, intentional part of YNPN National’s growth in the months and years ahead.
  • support YNPN leaders and chapters in conducting their own assessments to make this “network of inspired and engaged leaders” the most effective it can be.
  • contribute to large sector conversations about managing talent and developing healthy, positive organizational culture.

Keep an eye out for the report coming soon. Meanwhile, it’s your turn to reflect:

  • How would you tell your own story, as an emerging leader in the nonprofit sector? What were the moments that drew you to nonprofit work? How has YNPN met you you on that journey?
  • How would you tell the story of your YNPN chapter? How did it first get off the ground? What did it take to get it where it is now, and what will it take for you to thrive in the future? What are the unique values that guide your chapter? What are its own unique structure and culture?

We invite everyone to respond with their reflections in the comment box below.  For chapter leaders: to help you answer some of those questions at the chapter level, we’re hosting a series of interactive webinars on “Developing Talent for Chapter Success”. It will be a chance to hear from sector experts and chapter leaders across the country - as well as share your own experiences and questions. Together, we’ll learn about topics including:

  • conducting organizational assessments and strategic planning
  • developing the right leadership model / structure to meet organizational goals
  • managing staff and volunteers effectively and retaining their long-term involvement

The first webinar is this Wednesday, March 20th at 8pm Eastern / 5pm Pacific. Talk to you then!


By Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward, LaunchPad Fellow and National Talent Coordinator

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