GoBarefoot Blog

GoBarefoot Blog

Connecting The Development Sector

Leadership Needs to be Open and Transparent – Mary McGovern, Director Emerita at Women First International Fund

GoBarefoot, a professional networking platform exclusively catering to the Development sector, by facilitating connections and exchange of ideas and information, has collaborated with Katalyst India and Third Sector Partners to present “Leadership Conversations in the Development Sector”, a series of insightful interviews conducted by Shital Kakkar Mehra, India’s leading executive presence coach and Founder at GoBarefoot. Featuring seasoned and reputed leaders from various verticals of the social sector, the series offers a peek behind the scenes and helps viewers find answers to the most pressing questions facing the sector.

In the post COVID landscape, development sector leadership needs to change significantly to adapt to the virtual environment, which is here to stay, believes Mary McGovern, Director Emerita at Women First International Fund. Leaders have to accept the change and be willing to work in a virtual environment. They should be flexible with high performing employees and focus on project outcomes and goals rather than simply managing people,” she said. In this evolving landscape, leaders have to intentionally engage with employees to keep a finger on the pulse of the organisation as it is harder to develop culture while everyone is working virtually. 

It is imperative that new age leaders work very collaboratively with the team and develop consensus while understanding that consensus should not stand in the way of getting things done. McGovern believes that maintaining a transparent outlook and keeping communication channels open are critical to helping people understand the vision and aim of the organisation. 

Lessons from the Development Sector

The pandemic has been an ongoing challenge for every sector and everyone, from the government to corporates, need to evaluate how best to meet challenges. They must be nimble, flexible and adaptable to ensure bright outcomes. Sectors should not allow processes to get in the way of taking action, while ensuring optimal management of the fiduciary responsibility. Thinking creatively and acting swiftly while leveraging digital and virtual channels is one way to move forward seamlessly while affecting societal transformation. 

Leadership Evolution in the Past Decades

The development sector has changed incredibly quickly over the last few decades, especially in the last 10 years. Organisations have undertaken transformational journeys and leaders must now think differently about how to strategically create more impact in the sector. We must have the willingness to think differently about how we act, while focusing on impact and achieving on-ground change. There is an increased emphasis on proving impact through quantitative and qualitative data and robust accountability has come to fore. The development sector now has acute awareness of the underlying fiduciary responsibility. There is also a strong appreciation of local context and leaders are working towards bringing local voices into decision making and ensuring that people become a part of designing the necessary solution. Going ahead, leaders should create more sources of stable funding and make their organisations stronger and more resilient. Invest in your organisation – focus on professional development of staff members, strategic planning, capacity building, and peer learning possibilities.

Best Practices to Nurture Talent 

Organisations must provide funds for capacity building and support fledgling entities on fulfilling their vision. A good way to nurture talent involves developing organisational assessment tools to ensure internal conversations and enhance capacity building plans in a focused manner. Tailored programmes should be created to boost talent in addition to offering young talent one-on-one mentorships and open communication channels. Online resources can be leveraged for further capacity building. Fresh talent should identify their priorities and choose aligned programmes while seeking out different professional experiences and working on their communication skills.

Read our previous conversation with Ingrid Srinath, Director, Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy, Ashoka University here.

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