Nonprofit skills

Skills Top Nonprofit CEOs are Looking For When They Hire (Part 1)

In Leadership Resources by Brandt A. HandleyLeave a Comment

After years of interviewing hundreds of CEOs on ROI’s Into the Corner Office podcast and also being a recruiter myself, skills often take a back seat to the personality traits, attitude, and culture fit that top CEOs look for when adding to their team. Our “Hiring Beyond the Skills” article series explores some of the traits and attributes that leaders look for in today’s environment.

Heart for the Mission

In the nonprofit world, hiring can take on a bit of a different tone because while skills and culture fit are important, another crucial element that goes beyond the culture within the company is a heart for and alignment with the mission of the organization. As Kent Kramer, CEO of Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana says, “You always look for someone who has business acumen, but at the same time, you’ve got to find somebody that has a heart for the mission. They’ve got to understand why we’re doing what we do.”

For some organizations, the alignment with the mission and the heart for the work is the most important thing. Because “everything that we do is a relationship if you have that relationship you can learn how to how to serve others if you have a passion for helping people,” Tom Gillespie, President and CEO of Living Well Disability Services, says. “If people have a heart for this work, we’ll teach them the rest.”

Alignment + Heart

Why are alignment and heart so important? Because, as Bill Dwyer, CEO of Helping Hands Center, says, “I know I can teach somebody something and they can learn, but I can’t teach the passion, the drive to want to make this a better place, a better world.”

It can also change how the business end of things is run. Kent says, “Sometimes we make decisions that are mission-centric and less business-centric. You’ve got to have somebody who understands how to run a strong business but also appreciates what we’re doing and that people are more than numbers. Sometimes they need a second chance sometimes they need the opportunity to succeed and so having a heart for a mission and a mind for business is what I look at [when considering a new hire.]”

Nonprofit work is more than just a job. “It’s a lifestyle,” says Bill. “You don’t work for an organization–you are the organization.”
Looking for a leader who aligns with your nonprofit’s mission? ROI can help.


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