Who Decides When You’re Ready to Lead

from Rosetta Thurman:

The Normative Problem With the Term ‘Next Generation Leaders’

Having a cadre of bright young leaders in the nonprofit sector is great, but typecasting us as the ‘next generation’ can also indicate that we need someone from up on high to deem us “ready” to lead when our time comes. Using the term can make it seem as if young people will lead after all the Baby Boomers are gone, however we all know that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. Baby Boomers are staying in their jobs longer as a result of the economic downturn, and many are taking on “encore careers” as nonprofit leaders. So it’s up to us, the young nonprofit leaders, to redefine who gets to say when we’re ready to lead. It can’t be our bosses, our mentors, or some older and wiser colleague. It is we who must decide for ourselves whether and when we will lead. I’ve heard too many stories of young people who come into the nonprofit sector, do their jobs well, and wait to be promoted or included or at the very least, heard. What I’ve realized in hearing these stories is that if young people wait for approval from their organizations to lead, if we wait for someone to deem us worthy of leadership opportunities, it will never happen. We have to make our own opportunities.?