Be A Better Leader In India’s NGO Sector

By Sarat Pratapchandran

New Update
Be A Better Leader In India’s NGO Sector

Neil Giuliano (Image:

Last week, I was in a room with representatives from over 400 NGOs in America. They held different roles ranging from line staff to CEOs and listened intently to Neil Giuliano, a former Mayor and a leader of America’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) movement.

Some of the thoughts that Mr. Giuliano gave are universal and can be applied by leaders in India’s NGO sector immediately as they chart new paths in creating better social outcomes for everyone. Here are thoughts that I would encourage you to share with all your employees and make the sector strong:

  1. Think about who you are working with rather than where. Every morning, do you want to go to work with individuals who won't give you a chance to make a difference? If you are not accomplishing things together, even if you are working for a major Indian NGO, you are not doing meaningful work. And, your job description won't get you where you want to go. Reflect on this and I'm sure you will count just a handful of places where people matter more than the job.
  2. Always define yourself first or else others will define you. The only way to define yourself at your workplace is to do what you have to do and ask for forgiveness later. Great leaders know how to set the tone and culture of an organization but there is just a handful around. So, take leadership in your hands and do not allow tiny minds in big offices constrain you.
  3. Work at places that will give you time and money to experiment with new ideas. You need some risk capital to innovate. Has any employer given you funds to try out things? Highly unlikely.
  4. Break down things at work and create substance. Stay focused and break down complex ideas into simple tasks, as this is now the greatest trait in business. A car business owner told me last week that he is having a difficult time managing younger workers who spend more time on their smartphones rather on the job at hand.
  5. Stretch, grow and take risks and do not let age constrain you. Even if you are 20 or 60, you need to work hard on constantly creating a better you. Be harder on yourself and make changes fast.
  6. In the end, take care of yourself and reflect again on who you work with rather than where. Leave the marketing and human resource folks to glorify the meaningless where.

Sarat PratapchandranFounder of, Sarat Pratapchandran’s career spans philanthropy, corporate social responsibility & content management. A graduate from Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, he worked as a journalist in India, the Middle East and the United States and now advises and mentors individuals at kanthari, an international organization focused on creating social visionaries around the world. Sarat is also on a personal mission to help 50 orphans by age 50.