Nonprofit Book Review: Scaling Leadership

Elena Hermanson
Apr 10, 2019 · 3 min read

Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most, by Robert J. Anderson & William A. Adams

Scaling Leadership, Wiley 2019

Do you know any leaders that don’t feel like they are in over their heads? We don’t know many. Most of us in the nonprofit sector are trying to keep our heads afloat, tackle problems as they come in, and react to the ever-changing nature of the issue we are focused on and the environment around us. We are working harder, longer, but getting in our own way as we try to grow.

Many leaders try to scale and grow their organizations through their hard work and expertise alone. We carry the weight of it all on our shoulders and overuse our strengths until they become liabilities. We aren’t scaling our leadership- and most of us hit a wall when our organization gets to a certain point. In Scaling Leadership, Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams tackle this wildly complex issue of what makes a great leader and how we can become effective leaders ourselves. Being a great leader requires us to scale our leadership- to be able to develop other leaders. Anderson and Adams delve into years and years of research to bring us a clear steps to increase our effectiveness as leaders and to scale our own leadership.

Although this book is not written for nonprofit leaders (in fact, nonprofits are not ever mentioned explicitly in this book), this information is absolutely made for you. As a leader in this sector, you have more weight on your shoulders, your organization’s outcomes matter that much more, and you are dealing with even more complexity and volatility than other leaders. Whether you are running a small organization or are somewhere in the organizational chart of a large nonprofit or foundation, you need these tools. You and your organization must to learn how to scale if you are going to face these complex issues head on, increase your impact, and make a difference. This book is made for you- the authors just didn’t know it.

“At its essence, leadership is a calling to serve. In a world increasingly at risk, leadership is a vocation that can link diverse people from all walks of life to create remarkable achievements. As such, leaders play a key role in designing a thriving future for all who inhabit this beautiful planet.” -Bill Adams & Bob Anderson

Because this book is heavily focused on the statistics and data behind their findings, it can make this a difficult read in terms of getting through it. It doesn’t “grab” you and make you want to turn page after page, but the information in it is wildly valuable. You will have to do some work as the reader to glean the important and relevant pieces of information, but this leadership book does what many can’t: back up the leadership theory with raw, hard, proven data.

I recommend this book for any leader in the nonprofit sector that wants to scale the work they are doing. It even has a free LCP Assessment available online to take for yourself so you can refer to your own leadership profile throughout the reading.

Elena Hermanson

Written by

Chief Operating Officer- Colton Strawser Consulting. CoFounder- Nonprofit Leadership Toolbox. Social Justice & Racial Equity. Social Enterprises & New Ventures.

Nonprofit Leadership Toolbox

Nonprofit Leadership Toolbox was created to offer something new in the nonprofit sector: affordable, convenient, valuable professional development.

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