Beyond their individual organisations, leaders in the sector help steer and influence the nonprofit sector, what it can and does achieve as a sector, and how it is positioned in the wider societal context. What happens at a sector level can deeply influence the organisations within it, so it is important that individual leaders take an interest and a part in helping to guide and shape it into the future. These leaders include CEOs, founders, trustees, or any senior leader. If you actively engage with other leaders and seek ways to collaborate to tackle challenges, to influence policy and are interested in systemic change, you are a leader in the sector.
At this level, being a strong and effective communicator who can build lasting relationships is important. Negotiation and influence skills are also key skills when it comes to building collaborations, agreeing policies and co-creating plans for the sector. A strong leader here will be able to build a shared vision and consensus across disparate groups and view points. Here, the individual may need to take second place to the collective, so it is important to have wider systems perspective.
At an organisational level, leaders are usually involved in delivering downstream solutions. To effect systems-wide change, it is important to have an interest and understanding of the wider political, social, economic and environmental context and be able to look at how to influence upstream.