Written by Susan Tomlinson Schmidt, CNP
Reading Time: 2 minutes
One day – that now seems a really long time ago – I was on a flight, and I took a seat next to a pilot. Not THE pilot – because no matter how many frequent flyer miles I managed to collect, they still didn’t let me sit next to the pilot. He was a pilot just catching a ride for his next flight. We started talking with the usual small talk. Soon enough came the customary question – What do you do? I gave him my usual elevator speech: national nonprofit, building a talent pipeline of leaders in the nonprofit sector. While I was talking, he stopped looking at the tablet in front of him and looked toward me. “I didn’t realize there was a training program for nonprofit leaders,” he said, somewhat dismissively. “Well, of course,” I rebutted. “Just like flight school. You had to be taught to learn to fly a plane. We teach people how to save the world.” He smiled and, as he inserted his earbuds in his ears, he added, “I bet it is easier to teach someone to fly a plane than it is to teach them to save the world.”
I kept thinking, is that true? Is teaching leadership harder than teaching someone how to defy physics and lift a 90 ton machine into the air? For years, we debated if leadership can even be taught! And what does that mean – there are only natural born leaders? And all the rest of us are just pushing a stone uphill, trying to get to the top?
Quickly I returned to my senses. I thought about our Certified Nonprofit Professionals and how they are seven times more likely to rise to leadership than their peers. Seven times more likely. The concept of only natural-born leaders is a lie. The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance has been developing effective nonprofit leaders for four generations. These extraordinary professionals are creating a ripple that is elevating our collective quality of life. When I consider the impact that our graduates are making, when I read their testimonials about how important our training was to their growth, I know you can teach someone to understand their leadership potential and reach it–for certain.
Congratulations. You have already taken the first step. And don’t worry. If getting your CNP doesn’t work out, you can always go to flight school.