If it is truly your goal to get to the top of an organization's leadership, it may be helpful to know how people in those current positions got there. That's exactly what Arlington, Va.-based Council on Foundations was trying to discover when they did the research for its Career Pathways to Philanthropic Leadership Baseline Report. The study analyzed the professional and personal characteristics in foundation executive positions and came up with the following results:
- 79.5 percent of the 440 foundations that appointed CEOs and executive directors during the research period filled the positions with candidates outside the foundations.
- 63.4 percent of successful candidates held either the chief executive (38.9 percent) or vice president (24.5 percent) roles prior to their ascension.
- A majority of candidates that landed these executive positions were not originally from the philanthropic sector. From these transitional candidates, 24.3 percent came from business.
- Nearly 20 percent of these successful candidates came from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds and 48.7 percent were women.
- Some 30 percent of the field leaders interviewed said mentors played a crucial role in their career advancement.
- Nearly 85 percent of interviewees expressed significant skepticism about the willingness of trustees, search consultants and other hiring decision makers to be influenced by leadership development efforts.