Courageous Leadership

quote1 The number one prerequisite for high performance is courageous, relentless leadership. quote1

Following are some of the best materials we have found on courageous leadership. If you have additional materials to suggest, please let us know.

Relentless: Investing in Leaders Who Stop at Nothing in Pursuit of Greater Social Impact

Mario Morino, April 27, 2012
Mario Morino’s City Club of Cleveland speech in which he describes the social and economic tsunamis that are now hitting our shores and eroding social services in America. Instead of leveling across-the-board “haircuts” to all organizations, he argues, we should go much deeper with our support for those leaders who are relentless in pursuit of high performance for those they serve.

Nonprofits can transform society but first they must transform themselves

Margaret Bernstein, Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 29, 2012
Margaret Bernstein of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes about Mario Morino’s City Club speech and how his challenge is improving nonprofit performance.

Fearless Focus: Mario Morino

Jean Case, Case Foundation, May 30, 2012
Jean Case of the Case Foundation interviews Mario Morino about fearless leadership. “Great leaders [are] obsessed with finding ways to do better for those they serve,” Morino says. “As a result, they are willing take big risks to get there.”

Next Generation of Government Summit Lunch Keynote: Mario Morino

Pat Fiorenza, GovLoop, July 26, 2012
GovLoop gives a summary of Mario Morino’s keynote address to the NextGenGov conference on how government leaders can be more relentless in their pursuit of better serving constituents.

Why a Ready by 21 Team Jumped for Leap of Reason

Brad Bryant, Ready by 21, August 27, 2012
Brad Bryant, Executive Director of the Georgia Foundation for Public Education, writes about how Leap of Reason spoke directly to the mission and challenges of his organization.

Foundation uses tough times as opportunity to refocus

Denise San Antonio Zeman, Crain’s Cleveland, December 3, 2012
“Our journey was transformed by … Leap of Reason… Mr. Morino’s words proved inspirational to us–so much so that we adopted many concepts from his book for our reinvention.”

How Funders are Missing a Huge Opportunity

Mario Morino, Greater Good Blog, December 11, 2012
Mario Morino writes on Arabella’s Greater Good blog on how funders should be supporting high performance culture, not forcing leaders to live hand to mouth.

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leadership

Goleman et al., Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010
Transform yourself from a good manager into an extraordinary leader with the help of this collection of HBR articles to help you maximize your own performance, as well as that of your organization.

“A Survival Guide for Leaders”

Heifetz, Ronald, and Marty Linsky, Harvard Business Review, June 2002
“Let’s face it, to lead is to live dangerously.” The authors of this Harvard Business Review article will help you navigate you through the “dark side” of leadership and its inherent perils

“Leader of the Future”

William Taylor, Fast Company, May 1999
This series of conversations with Harvard’s Ronald Heifetz published by Fast Company illuminates how leaders see, listen, fail and stay alive

Mission-Driven Governance

Fisman, Raymond, Rakesh Khurana, and Edward Martenson, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer, 2009
“The prevailing governance model is fundamentally adversarial, pitting board members in a never-ending struggle with executives. This model may ensure that the legal requirements of oversight and compliance are met, but it does little to advance the organization’s goals. The authors propose a new and more effective framework, one where board members and executives work together to advance the organization’s mission.”

“The Dynamic Nonprofit Board”

Jansen, Paul, and Andrea Kilpatrick, McKinsey Quarterly, May 2004
“Corporations aren’t alone in focusing on governaqnce; rigorous oversight of management and performance is increasingly important for nonprofits too.”

More Effective Boards: A Detailed Guide

Bridgestar: Nonprofit Jobs, Careers, and Boards of Directors, Boston: Bridgespan Group, 2009
“This list of effective practices is designed to serve as a guide and to spark discussion within an organization about its top priorities for board development. It is a companion piece to the article: Becoming a More Effective Nonprofit Board.”

The Source: Twelve Principles of Governance That Power Exceptional Boards

Washington, DC: BoardSource, 2005
The Source enables nonprofit boards to operate at the highest and best use of their collective capacity. Aspirational in nature, these principles offer chief executives a description of an empowered board that is a strategic asset to be leveraged. They provide board members with a vision of what is possible and a way to add lasting value to the organizations they lead.”

The New Work of the Nonprofit Board

Taylor, Barbara E., Richard Chait, and Thomas Holland, Harvard Business Review, September 1996
“Too often, the board of a nonprofit organization is little more than a collection of high-powered people engaged in low-level activities. But that can change, the authors say, if trustees are willing to discover and take on the new work of the board. When they perform the new work, a board’s members can significantly advance the institution’s mission and long-term welfare. … The stakes are high: if boards demonstrate that they can change effectively, the professional staff at the institutions they serve just may follow suit.”

Daniel and the Rhinoceros

Hunter, David E. K., Evaluation and Program Planning, May 2006
“This paper examines ways in which funders often do harm in the name of good by focusing on randomized control experiments over all other evaluation methods when helping not-for-profit organizations improve the effectiveness of their programs. It offers a critique of current practice and suggests ways in which foundations might work usefully and productively with grantees on evaluation-related capacity-building.”


Leap for Consultants and Providers

Management consultants, planners, executive coaches, evaluators, software and services firms, and other providers will find the suite of Leap of Reason materials and its message of high performance relevant to their market education, consultative sell, delivery of services, and client support efforts for their nonprofit and public sector clients.


Leap for Government

Leap of Reason, although initially directed at and written for nonprofit organizations, is equally applicable to the challenges facing federal, state and municipal government agencies as they seek to do more with less and improve the social impact of their efforts through their own services or those done through grant and contract programs. As federal agencies incorporate the Executive Branch’s directive to include information about how they plan to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs and link their disbursements to evidence, the materials have even greater relevance.


Leap for Nonprofits

The suite of Leap of Reason materials provides informative and provocative material that helps nonprofit boards, management, and staff 1) better understand and start to prepare for the forces changing the social sector; 2) facilitate board and/or staff planning sessions; 3) contribute to leadership and professional staff development, and 4) take important steps toward becoming a high-performance organization.


Leap for Boards

Leap for Boards provides informative and provocative material for boards and leadership teams. While the package is useful on an individual basis, it directed at organizations and helping them prepare for and sharpen the focus of board retreats, strategic planning efforts, visioning sessions, and even self-assessment or introspection exercises.



Relentless: Investing in Leaders Who Stop at Nothing in Pursuit of Greater Social Impact
Text of remarks as prepared for delivery by Mario Morino at his April, 2012 address at The City Club of Cleveland.


Ideas Into Action

A framework for managing to outcomes that you can use to evolve to the practice of managing to outcomes.


Leap of Reason Compendium

An excerpt from Leap of Reason that provides a directory of articles, reports, books, and tools that amplify key themes of the book and will help you take the leap toward greater mission effectiveness.


Why We Need a Mass ’Missouri’ Movement

Chairman's Corner - July 2012 - VPPNews
According to Mario Morino, more people should be "from Missouri" (The Show-Me State), and emphasizes the need to change the mindset of our nation in terms of demanding and supporting high performance.


Saving the Ship by Rocking the Boat

Chairman's Corner - November 2011 - VPPNews
Six questions every nonprofit board and executive team must ask to prepare for the rough financial straits ahead.


Let's Get Down to Business--But Without the 'Business' Rhetoric

Chairman's Corner - January 2012 - VPPNews
We can’t afford to waste precious time on unproductive debates over “business versus nonprofit” or “mission versus metrics.” Instead, we have to take the best of both worlds and effectively blend them to make us much more effective.


Don't Check Your Courage at the Door

Chairman's Corner - September 2011 - VPPNews
Business leaders who serve on nonprofit boards should apply the same rigor, objective questioning, performance expectations, and data-informed decision-making that serve them well in their day jobs to their nonprofit organization.


Can You Handle the Truth?

Chairman's Corner - April 2013 - VPPNews
There’s an aspect of courageousness that gets little note in the burgeoning discussions around performance: “facing brutal facts,” in the words of author Jim Collins. I believe that truly courageous leaders see performance as a moral issue and therefore are willing to face whatever the data tell them.


Doubling Down on Leadership in an Era of Scarcity

Chairman's Corner - May 2012 - VPPNews
Investing in good leaders and helping them become great ones is the single best investment we can make. It’s the proven strategy for ensuring that hard work will produce high performance— and real, enduring opportunity for the families in this community and communities all over the world.

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