Expanding the Community Thoughtfully

We take great care in identifying, vetting, and approaching individuals as potential ambassadors to ensure the community evolves and grows with quality.

Criteria for Ambassador Nomination

The criteria with which a candidate is considered for the community are grounded in the core premise that he/she believes strongly that “performance matters” and divided into “must” and “desirable.”

Expanding the Community Thoughtfully

View Community Growth presentation here.

Must Criteria

  • Care greatly about changing mindsets and attitudes to  improve the impact of the social and public sectors
  • Believe “performance matters” and are passionately committed to the purpose of the community—advancing high-performance organizations
  • Affirm and advocate for the Performance Imperative’s definition and seven pillars of high performance
  • Bring deep knowledge and experience in building great organizations capable of achieving meaningful, measurable, and sustainable results

Desirable Criteria

  • See value and have genuine interest in participation
  • Able to separate himself/herself from his/her organization
  • Willing to invest time and share candid insights
  • Able to avoid unreasonably skewing, constraining, or biasing dialogue
  • Okay with constructive conflict and willing to respectfully call others out
  • Good fit for the group chemistry and workings of the community

Candidate Tracking and Nomination Process

A micro-community, GrowCom MC, oversees an ongoing process to identify and nominate individuals as potential candidates for the community, conduct reasonable candidate vetting, and follow an orderly process to nominate, invite, and onboard new ambassadors.

Individuals must be nominated by an ambassador.  Additionally, ongoing discovery identifies other individuals who may be likely candidates.  The nominating and the ongoing discovery processes are guided by the criteria for ambassador nomination.

Ambassadors provide (and the GrowCom MC periodically requests) nominations of individuals who fit our agreed-upon criteria—from the get-go this ensures the first level of quality assurance into our process (Suggestions for candidates from other sources are screened and, if there is potential fit, added to the database, but no action is taken unless an ambassador nominates a candidate).

Preferential consideration: There is a strong preference for leaders, e.g., candidates serving in leadership roles, as lead executives, board chairs, or senior members of the management team/board in nonprofits, public agencies, or foundations; public policy and academic thought leaders; and CEOs, principals, and senior management in vendor and provider organizations.  We have the highest regard for front-line staff working in performance management, evaluation, finance, program design roles, etc., and need to ensure we invest in the next generation of leaders and those in lead staff roles with in-the-trenches experience who may potentially have more latitude to proactively engage.

The Leap Ambassadors support team maintains a private database of candidates and updates the data weekly, so that the most current candidate status is available to micro-community members. The micro-community communicates via email on an ongoing basis and meets periodically to discuss and “slot” the nominations into current, in-progress, and future slates or mark as pending if issues or questions remain unresolved.

At any point, there are 250-300 candidates contained in the database. Once or twice a year, the GrowCom MC, after rigorous review, proposes a new class of candidates, e.g., class of Oct2015-Mar2016  to the entire community.

As a matter of principle and respect for all involved, information on these candidates is considered private and we do not disclose the names of candidates or their classification outside of the community, and for the most part outside of the GrowCom MC.  The first time a candidate is made aware of their status with the community is when the “exploratory invitation” is extended.

Candidate Vetting

The GrowCom MC learns what it can about candidates from the ambassador(s) who nominated or sourced them as well as others in the community who might have first-hand or indirect knowledge of the candidate.  This vetting is done discreetly and with respect for the individuals involved.

As mentioned earlier, a class of candidates is periodically developed and presented to the community for review and confirmation, via a survey. The survey allows ambassadors to easily register their support (or lack of), ask questions, raise issues for any candidate, and offer assistance in connecting, vetting, inviting, and onboarding candidates.

When issues are raised, the GrowCom MC follows up with those who registered the concern and, if warranted, we reach out to other ambassadors who may know the candidate. Conversations with ambassadors registering objections are candid, with an eye toward understanding the nature of the reservation and whether or not the ambassador is in agreement with moving forward with the process. This additional outreach is done discreetly and with respect for the candidate being considered.

When multiple ambassadors register concerns about a candidate, the candidate’s potential fit to the community is reviewed more thoroughly.  As a general guideline, if there are multiple objections that are not easily reconciled, we defer or pass on the candidate and they are re-classified in the database. The vetting of a candidate is more thorough if there appears to be:

  • A “personality” conflict(s), where ambassador objections are based on personal experiences
  • Concern that a candidate is not a good “fit” with the culture of the community
  • A question of whether the candidate’s knowledge and reputation is relevant to the caliber we seek to maintain in the community
  • A situation where an ambassador perceives that a candidate would use the community in a way not conducive to the community’s overall objectives.

When we have moved forward with a candidate where reservations have been noted, we ensure a discussion of those reservations with the candidate for full transparency.

Candidate Invite and Onboarding

When the new class clears the community, ambassador(s) best suited to extend the invitations are recruited.

Exploratory emails are sent individually to let candidates know they’ve been nominated, explore their interest, and, we hope, express interest to learn more about and/or join the community.

When a candidate expresses an interest or tentatively accepts the exploratory invite, time is spent reviewing the criteria, and then discussing in-depth the community’s purpose, “The Performance Imperative,” how the community functions, and expectations—yet again, to confirm alignment.

Upon official acceptance of the invitation, a candidate is welcomed to the community and time is spent exploring how the new ambassador may want to best engage in the work.  The Leap Ambassadors Community and its influence grows as ambassadors gradually become more engaged.

 Guidelines to Ensure Broad Diversity

We also follow guidelines in candidate vetting to help ensure the healthiest composition of the community.

  • Diversity: Diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and class is extremely relevant and important. We cannot simply give lip service to our desire to build a diverse Ambassadors Community.
  • Age, Role, and Experience Balance: In discovering candidates to consider as potential ambassadors the clear preference is for those in leadership positions, while also ensuring some balance to bring along the next generation of leaders and those in lead staff roles with their direct hands-on experience.
  • Geography: Because most philanthropy is local, we need to ensure broad geographical representation, not limiting ourselves to those who live on the two coasts. At the same time, we want to give preference to achieving clusters of ambassadors in major metropolitan areas to increase the opportunity for place-based activity to augment national/international efforts. While the community is primarily U.S.-centric., we will continue to consider individuals outside the U.S. We believe international members will benefit from participation and potentially play a role in developing an internationally focused community over time.
  • Foundation/Government/Civic Business Representation:Specific to the community’s overall purpose of catalyzing a movement that pushes the social sector forward to higher performance, we must ensure we are sourcing individuals who are (a) philosophically aligned with our community purpose; (b) already providing support and funding organizational-development and high-performance initiatives; and (c) providing or who are predisposed to provide such support and funding.
  • Faith-Based Representation:Much of the “real” charitable money in the social services sector goes to faith-based organizations. The National Philanthropic Trust reported that 31% of charitable giving went to religious organizations. We need to source individuals from these groups who are receptive to and aligned with our purpose.
  • Discipline Representation:While the initial impetus for the community came from leaders in performance management and evaluation, a healthy community benefits from different perspectives. Just as the community needs deep expertise in performance and evaluation, it needs similar expertise in leadership, management, people and culture, program design, and finance, as well as a constructive blending of practitioners, academics, vendors/consultants, policy types, etc.
  • Domain Representation:We also want to source individuals across the social sector beyond human services, where our current Leap Ambassadors are concentrated. Adding great leaders from healthcare, K-12 education, workforce and economic development, climate change/environment, arts & culture, etc., is an objective.

We Need the Right People…

People are key.  For the community to fully achieve its potential we need the right people to come together in community to trigger a mindshift within a vital core of the social sector to accept that mission and performance are inextricably linked.

The idea for which this nation stands will not survive if the highest goal free man can set themselves is an amiable mediocrity. Excellence implies striving for the highest standards in every phase of life.

John W. Gardner