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Delivering High Impact.

The Indian School of Development Management (ISDM) is a pioneering institution established to engage with Indian
social sector towards creating a new narrative of Development Management and Leadership practice. The school
aims to facilitate the creation of a cadre of transformational leaders and managers who can meaningfully engage
with complex social issues, design and realise sustainable solutions of social change for scale. We strongly believe LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
in the potential of collective wisdom grounded in universal human values. ISDM is committed to support and FOR INDIAN SOCIAL SECTOR EXECUTIVE SUMMARY | OCTOBER 2018
facilitate the sustainability, scale and a shared vision of impact co-created with social purpose organizations working
for the betterment of society and especially improving the quality of life of the underserved.
Why we need social impact leaders
With 3.3 million Non-Profit Institutions (NPIs)1 employing @ISDM_ORG_IN over 18.22 million people, supported by contributions
from funders, enabling organisations, the government,
and businesses, the Indian development sector is one of @isdm_org_in the largest and most active social economies in the
world3. A sector of this scale and size needs exceptional
leadership to realise appropriate social impact for scale. Organisational talent however continues to remain a
significant challenge in the light of the rapid evolution and
growth of the social impact ecosystem. Several recent
studies have indicated the talent and leadership gap as
one of the key factors affecting growth and scale of social
sector organisations.

ABOUT SATTVA India has made tremendous progress over the past few
decades in terms of economic development,
universalisation of access to education, health indicators,
Sattva is a social impact strategy consulting and implementation firm. Sattva works closely at the intersection of life expectancy, and so on, yet there are sizeable sections
business and impact, with multiple stakeholders including non-profits, social enterprises, corporations and the of the population that have been left behind in the Indian
social investing ecosystem. Our work is across multiple states in India, multiple countries in Africa and South Asia, growth story. India ranks at 131 out of 188 countries on
the United Nations Development Programme's new
on the ground, and they have engaged with leading organisations across the globe through their practice in
Human Development rankings for 20164 , placing it in the
strategic advisory, realising operational outcomes, CSR, knowledge, assessments, and co-creation of sustainable category of medium human development ranking
models. Sattva works to realise inclusive development goals across themes in emerging markets including countries.
education, skill development and livelihoods, healthcare and sanitation, digital and financial inclusion, energy In recent years, the circular economy has gained
access and environment, among others. Sattva has offices in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Paris. prominence with growing recognition amongst
businesses that linear economic models are
unsustainable. Inclusive growth must not only address
poverty, but also deal with aspects of equity, equality of access and opportunity, generation of employment and
provision of protection to vulnerable communities in
various facets of daily living5. Social challenges have grown at a disproportionately
greater pace compared to the rate at which the sector
responded with solutions. For social impact organisations
Delivering High Impact. looking to make a dent in enabling communities to move
out of poverty, this entails grappling with well-entrenched
systemic and cultural issues. The inherent complexity of
development work is what makes social impact
leadership distinctive and critical. Social sector leaders
increasingly need to develop their ability to understand
and work within this evolving context of complexity and
uncertainty6 , given that there could be multiple, equally
This work is licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareALike 4.0 International License: intricate and complex pathways to finding appropriate
solutions and scaling impact.

1 Central Statistical Organisation, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, India. 2009. Measuring the Informal Economy in Developing Countries- A Survey on
Non-Profit Institutions in India– Some Findings. Kathmandu, Nepal. | 2 India Development Review. 2017. Five ways
nonprofits can leverage for-profit talent. 21 November. Accessed May 2018. leverage-for-profit-talent/ | 3 Asian Venture
Philanthrophy Network. 2017. Social Investment Landscape in Asia. AVPN-Sattva, Asian Venture Philanthrophy Network & Sattva. Accessed June 2018. | 4 UNDP. 2017. “Human Development Reports.” | 5 Asian
Development Bank. 2011. “Asia 2050- Realizing the Asian Century.” Executive Summary.
executive-summary.pdf | 6 Chambers, Robert. 2017. Can We Know Better?: Reflections for Development. Practical Action Publishing. Accessed May 2018.
The Four-factor leadership framework
Leading Oneself Leading Team and Others Leading the Organisation
Our study aims to understand current approaches and Values and Ethics People Development Systems thinking
perspectives towards building strong leadership in Self-awareness Cultural alignment Thought leadership
India’s social sector and map the landscape of needs Empathy Communication and influence Strategic thinking
and challenges. Perhaps the first of its kind in Grit and resilience Collaboration Organisational development
understanding leadership development needs General Openness to change Ability to innovate Decision making (value and data based)
ground-up in the social sector, the study has adopted a Leadership Motivation Training and Capacity Building Change management
mixed methods approach by combining a review of Competencies Entrepreneurial mindset Outcome orientation Succession planning
existing literature and writing on the topic, and insights
from primary data collected using both quantitative Ability to deal withuncertainty Conflict Resolution Problem solving (ability to analyse
complex problems from a trans-disciplinary
and qualitative methods, to understand aspirations of Commitment to Impact Project Management perspective)

leaders in Social Purpose Organisations (SPOs); Growth Mindset Programme management

approaches and experiences of CEOs of SPOs in Networking
nurturing leaders within their organisation, and
perspectives of funders and ‘enabling organisations’ on
leadership and talent in the sector. Stakeholder Specific Function Specific Knowledge
Understanding and Engagement Design thinking, Fundraising, Deep knowledge of the
with Communities Monitoring and Evaluation, trends and workings of the
We conducted the study through the following process: (Intersectionality), Stakeholders, Impact Assessment, Research thematic areas that the
Context Partners, Government, Donors, and Data management/ SPO is operating in,
specific CSR, Media and Volunteer handling, Financial Management, Policy understanding.
Competencies Management Leverage

1. 2. 3. • Key Competencies required to lead within contexts relating to communities, stakeholders and intersectionalities.
Literature review of Hypotheses development Sampling of NGOs by • Technical skills to lead in specific roles and functions
development management, through building a 4-factor mapping 200+ NGOs by their
leadership, learning and framework for leadership age, nature of work and Values and Values and Beliefs embodied as approaches and impact
organisational growth as well as attributes and key hypotheses annual budgets, and Beliefs
the landscape of programmes around leadership needs, choosing a stratified sample
and courses offered on challenges, organisational with proportional allocation
Ecosystem Competencies required for leaders to co-create shared visions of change, set direction and influence the
leadership development. contexts and learning. to all strata. development ecosystem

4. 5. 6. Our insights from the study have emerged from our pursuit of answering three key questions:
1. What do leaders need for their development?
Conducted an online Qualitative interviews with a purposive sample Synthesis, 2. What are the current approaches to leadership development within an SPO?
survey answered by of 30 CEOs and 15 ecosystem enablers validation and
3. What’s the way forward for the ecosystem to support leadership development in the Indian social sector?
118 senior leaders and (funders, talent management organisations, analysis to bring
middle managers from academic institutions, consulting and capacity together ‘What do leaders need for their development’ presents a funders and enabling organisations in the Indian social
85 SPOs. building organisations). insights. comprehensive competency framework for senior sector towards enabling a culture of learning in
leaders and middle managers of SPOs and the abilities organisations and holistic leadership development
To map the critical qualities of a leader, a 4-category framework for leadership attributes was developed, that leaders deem important and need support on as geared towards designing and acting upon sustainable
encompassing general leadership competencies, context-specific competencies, values and beliefs and abilities and well as the outlook of the CEOs of these organisations. social change grounded in universal human values and
skills that help a leader wield influence at the ecosystem level. The framework was developed through combining The chapter brings together data on leadership deep commitment of organisational talent to influence
existing literature on organisation and leadership studies and building on the Bridgespan Group’s non-profit competencies deemed important by senior leaders, this change.
leadership framework7 (The Bridgespan Group 2017). This was further augmented by incorporating knowledge middle managers and CEOs, as well as competencies
pieces from Sattva and ISDM’s experience of nurturing leaders and organisations. The relevance of the list of that they would like to seek support for.
competencies was validated and enriched through interviews with SPO leaders.

‘Current approaches to leadership development’ presents

Crossover leaders (who Social sector leaders a view of the current offerings in the ecosystem for
have transitioned from (who grew in the sector leadership development including programmes,
Individual Leaders courses immersive experiences and coaching support.
other sectors) to be leaders)
It attempts to further dwell into key factors that
influence an SPOs investment in Leadership
ROLE (Senior Leaders / Middle Managers Development as well as what are the current
approaches to design and implementation of
Emerging non-profits Expanding non-profits Mature non-profits leadership development programmes in the Indian
Organisational Context
(budget: 0-10 crores) (budget: 10-30 crores) (budget: >30 crores) social sector.

Figure: Lenses to examine social impact leadership encompassing profile of leader and context of organisation ‘Looking ahead’ brings together key insights emerging
from secondary and primary data gathered during the
study. The chapter provides actionable insight for SPOs,
7 The Bridgespan Group. 2017. “A framework for great non-profit leadership.” Accessed May 2018.
What do leaders need for their development? Current approaches to leadership development

Learning to lead is a highly personal experience, and one that shifts over time as both the ecosystem and the Developing the next generation of leaders within an
organisations evolve. Facilitating a development path for leaders needs careful consideration for it to be rooted in the organisation takes deep commitment which begins with
realities of the sector and the organisation, while also being relevant to a leader’s current and future needs. the leader of the SPO and widens across the
organisation. Nurturing agile and adaptive organisations
We sought answers to the following key questions on leadership needs: requires a strong culture of learning & development and
• Is leadership development critical to a social purpose organisation’s journey of growth? a supportive environment for leaders to maximise their
• What are the key competencies that a leader needs in the light of the social impact they want to create? effectiveness.
• How can organisations ensure effective crossover talent transitions into the organisation?
This chapter enquires into the following questions with
leaders on approaches to leadership development in
Through a comprehensive competency framework for SPO senior leaders and middle managers, we present abilities
their organisations:
that leaders consider important and need support vis-à-vis the outlook of the CEOs of these organisations.
• At which point does an organisation recognise the need
to nurture and develop leaders?
• How does an organisation garner funding and resources
to develop and build capacities of organisational leaders?
• What are the approaches currently being followed by
Key Learnings organisations to nurture leadership?

There is overwhelming recognition that leadership 6 key ecosystem trends influence the
The chapter also presents a view of the current offerings in the ecosystem for leadership development including
development across the organisations is critical for competencies and abilities that leaders need for
programmes, courses, immersive experiences, and coaching support.
a Social Purpose Organisation (SPO) to achieve today and for the future.
scale and impact sustainable social change. • Need for innovative, game-changing approaches in
However, a historical focus on programmes and solution creation Key Learnings
participant groups rather than on organisation • Need for hiring and nurturing new talent and leaders
development has led to a lack of attention towards within the organisation 1. An SPO’s investment in leadership development is influenced by the following key factors:
leadership development in SPOs. • Increased engagement with new stakeholders, especially • The CEO's mind-set towards developing leaders within the organisation
• Leadership development is deemed important across with Corporate Social Responsibility entities • Access to funding which is for the organisation’s development and not for its programmes
the organisation and not just for designated leaders in • Need for meaningful collaborations with ecosystem • Access to appropriate resources to effectively implement leadership development initiatives
specific positions. partners like other SPOs, the community, and other The narrative around organisational strengthening for impacting sustainable and meaningful social change needs
• There is a need for senior leaders to focus on building stakeholders to address social challenges with urgency to be actively pursued for appropriate funding flows towards leadership development in the social sector.
organisational systems, engaging and collaborating with • Cognisance of the need to influence decisions and
key stakeholders and people development enhance sector credibility in the development ecosystem
• The role of middle-managers (both by aspiration and by • Need to partner with the government for co-creating 2. SPOs have garnered funds from various sources, from funds offered by individuals to unrestricted
current status) has been confined to delivering solutions and reaching scale institutional funding, in order to kick-start leadership development. However, for sustained efforts in
development programmes, thus limiting their opportunity nurturing leaders in SPOs, the nature of funding support to organisations needs to expand and get contextualised
to grow as second line leaders for the organisation. to the diverse leadership development needs of the organisation.

The following emerge as the top 5 competencies and skills relevant for leaders in SPOs: 3. The following insights emerge from the experience of organisations that nurture a strong learning culture:
• Leadership development starts with the CEO and widens across the organisation
Competencies leaders deem Competencies where leaders Contextual and Technical skills • CEOs face the challenge of access to appropriate expertise for designing structured L&D programmes
most important need support leaders deem most important • Irrespective of organisation size, regular mentoring and coaching are demonstrative of a support scaffolding to nurture
People development Ability to deal with uncertainty Stakeholder Engagement (across leaders
stakeholders) • Leadership development programmes have limited potential for organisational transformation unless implemented
across the entire team in tandem
Communication and Influence Entrepreneurial mind-set Financial management • Empowering leaders to take charge of their own development ushers in a sustained learning culture
Strategic thinking Growth mind-set Monitoring and Evaluation
Outcome-orientation Conflict resolution Design thinking
Commitment to impact Networking Fundraising
Looking ahead to build a strong ecosystem for leadership development
Finding appropriate talent is a significant challenge Leadership development is one of the key components of an organisation’s strategic planning. It equips the
• Hiring talent at senior levels is a constant challenge ‘incoming’ leaders need to be better initiated into the organisational leadership with the competencies to be able to develop systems and processes, design interventions,
related to compensation, matching expectations, and context of the sector, the organisation, and the culture. learn to establish meaningful collaborations and plan for uncertainties in the complex social systems SPOs operate in.
access. • Values and principles play an important role in However, nurturing leaders for the Indian social impact ecosystem, who can serve as social impact multipliers, is also a
• Crossover talent transitions are viewed positively, but alignment and realisation of impact. collective ecosystem responsibility requiring pro-active engagement from key stakeholders.
in organisational culture and practice of leadership
development within SPOs

c. Enable dedicated coaching and mentoring for

development leaders
Insights for
d. Support peer networks and learning platforms for
Ecosystem enablers development leaders

1. Focus on nurturing the organisation’s leadership e. Support enhancement of governance and

2. Create inter-sectoral dialogues and platforms that management systems and processes within
bring the highly diverse sector together to build a shared organisations towards developing capabilities for
understanding of organisational talent needs and collaboration with key stakeholders
3. Support the building of a strong narrative around 3. Enable effective leadership transitions
leadership development in the ecosystem a. Encouragement by funders and board members
4. Support the creation of contextual learning towards succession planning within organisations shall
programmes that enable holistic development through support the process of building resilient SPOs with
immersive practice–oriented experiences. capabilities to meet expectations of sustainable social
impact and scalable models of social change in the

for Funders Insights for
1. Encourage and support the design and
implementation of Organisation Development (OD) 1. Realise leadership potential within the organisation:
initiatives by: build for the future
a. Encouraging SPOs to invest resources in leadership 2. Enable effective integration of crossover leaders into
development by organising, facilitating or supporting the organisation
strategies that enable cross pollination of successful a. Creation of well-structured processes for integrating
models/ experiences within and across organisations, new leaders into the organisation. For example, KEF
thus, creating a co-learning culture in the sector. follows a system of assigning an existing junior
employee as a buddy to the senior leader for a period of
b. Proactively and explicitly encourage SPOs to develop time to ensure successful induction of the incoming
OD strategies that cultivate a new way of thinking and leader8.
acting, grounded in universal human values, for
creating sustainable shifts in their respective contexts. b. Meaningful articulation of the organisation’s vision
and values and making it explicit is important to help the
c. Influence the CEO and senior leaders’ mindsets to incoming leader align to the culture, often unstated, of
focus on building a culture of deep commitment to the organisation.
nurturing leadership across the organisation In closing: The study brings forward insights on the direction of leadership development in SPOs. It provides
c. Deeper engagement with existing leadership and core actionable insights for multiple stakeholders with potential to initiate, foster and influence leadership development
d. Establish networks of enabling organisations and team members, the board, and other advisors. practice in the sector.
experts who can facilitate conversations on
investments in leadership development by all d. Immersive and perspective building experiences to Interviews with leaders point to the need for OD processes to involve shifts in leadership understanding and
stakeholders in the ecosystem as well as build enable learning as soon as the incoming leader joins, to practice within SPOs based on cultures of commitment, passion and courage. It requires for organisations to
capacities of SPOs to nurture and support leaders. ensure that expectations are well-matched at both ends. unleash the imaginations and passions of people and enhance their ability to learn, form and act upon genuine
shared visions. Such shifts require people and organisations to understand interdependency and increase
2. Build diverse pools of funding that can respond to OD 3. Start the leadership development journey with a intelligence at the front lines as people confront increasingly complex and dynamic environments9.
needs of SPOs effectively well-defined competency map and enable leadership
a. Support setting-up of key systems and processes journeys bottom-up Hence, leadership development programmes in the social sector need to enhance learning opportunities for
within organisations in alignment with their a. Leaders need to be empowered to chart their own leaders in organisational work settings. The report attempts to initiate conversations and inspire actions on
organisational needs leadership journeys with the organisation supporting leadership development practice in India’s social sector. It is an attempt to supports funders, SPOs and enabling
the process of self-assessment and reflection through organisations in making informed decisions on areas of investment, design, support, and resources required to
b. Sponsor leadership development courses and resources, structures and processes, organisation nurture leaders in the country.
programmes for organisational teams to enable shifts culture and design of its programmes.
8 Interview with core team member of KEF team, May 2018 | 9 Peter Senge.1990 .The Fifth Discipline: The art and practice of the Learning Organisation. Doubleday/
Currency, ISBN 0-385-26094-6