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May 10, 2016

Opinion: Red Cross CEO on What Nonprofits Can Teach Business

Gail McGovern, who left a corporate career in 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross, writes in a Fortune commentary about lessons businesses can learn from how nonprofits operate, and vice versa.

Ms. McGovern, a former executive at AT&T and Fidelity Investments, says that while she and her team “applied business skills to bring financial stability to the Red Cross,” shifting to a charity “also taught me many valuable lessons that I believe are very useful for leaders in the private sector.”

Those lessons include focusing on the people their firms serve, motivating workers through ideas rather than executive power, and leading with both “your heart and your head.” At the same time, she writes, nonprofits should take a page from the private sector and create a culture of fiscal accountability, invest in staff, and “embrace change.”