25 Responses

  1. Brianne
    Brianne at |

    These are SO applicable to just about every leadership position or even just how you relate to coworkers or others in general. Love it.

  2. Jeanette
    Jeanette at |

    Mentors are the best! For the first time I’m actually working with someone I consider to be a mentor; someone that wants to see me advance in my career & the organization.

  3. Tweets that mention Nonprofit Leadership: 5 Things We Can Learn from Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) | Amber Melanie Smith: raison d'être -- Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Yancy Strickland and Janet M. Kennedy, ambermelsmith. ambermelsmith said: New blog post!! Nonprofit Leadership: 5 Things We Can Learn from Buffy (The Vampire Slayer) http://bit.ly/eaB1UD [...]

  4. Zach
    Zach at |

    Thank you for this! I see myself falling into so many of these traps without even realizing it!

  5. Sheena
    Sheena at |

    Thank you so much for this! You brought together two of my favorite things – Buffy and my career!

  6. Corinna Olson
    Corinna Olson at |

    One of my favorite Buffy moments was when the potentials had rejected her leadership. She through her support behind her successor. She told her, Faith, “Don’t be afraid to lead them.”

  7. Melinda McKee
    Melinda McKee at |

    Buffy IS how I have a life, or one way….just started watching it on Netflix, and it’s become how I decompress from work. :)

  8. Julia Campbell
    Julia Campbell at |

    I can’t believe there is a blog post that combines my two favorite things in this world – Buffy and nonprofits! Great job!

  9. Alexa
    Alexa at |

    Love the post. I’m a Non-Profit Management/Philanthropic Studies student at IUPUI who also runs a blog on great film and television geared towards female audiences. Buffy is my favorite tv series and I often think about the connection between the series and non-profit work. I’d love to write an in-depth post or paper about it sometime, because there’s a lot of potential material there. We have awesome interests, ha.

  10. The Great Geek Manual » Geek Media Round-Up: February 16, 2011

    [...] Nonprofit Leadership: 5 Things We Can Learn from Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) [...]

  11. Geek Media Round-Up: February 17, 2011 – Grasping for the Wind

    [...] Nonprofit Leadership: 5 Things We Can Learn from Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) [...]

  12. Jen
    Jen at |

    Wonderful list!! I am also in nonprofit work, and a HUGE Buffy fan (I just finished a massive re-marathon of the entire series last week, as I do every other year), and I think these lessons definitely carry over.

  13. Laura
    Laura at |

    “Here endeth the lesson…”

    Well done, Amber. You have my compliments as a writer and as a fellow non-profit professional.

  14. Loma Burris
    Loma Burris at |

    Great article, Thanks. I really like your site:)

  15. whiskey
    whiskey at |

    Please. Buffy is a study in “What Not to do” and pretty much had no leadership whatsoever (in fact negative leadership) by the end of the show. Citing is pretty much evidence that most women don’t understand a thing about actual leadership and power / patronage networks.

    Buffy pretty much mocked/ignored her Mentor for the hot bod bad boy. A typical female move, btw, the equivalent of “Mean Girls” social exclusion, power by excluding. A move that consistently fails when put into practice. [See Hillary Clinton needlessly making enemies of the military as First Lady by treating uniformed generals as waiters, repeated by Obama Aide Valerie Jarrett treating a bemedalled General as a waiter at a recent function.] Like Buffy wrt Spike/Giles-Robin Wood, this played to a female clique sense of social exclusion, but needlessly made enemies.

    At the end of series, Giles (and Robin Wood) were neutral to hostile, active enemies for no other reason than Buffy found her hot bad boy more important than social cohesion.

    Buffy never trained, and training is not something that can produce great leaders. Captain Bligh was as astonishing seaman and navigator, taking his men 6,000 miles in open water in a tiny boat to safety. But as a leader he failed miserably. Washington was only a so-so (at best) leader during Queen Anne’s War, but his bravery and personal example counted for a lot.

    Buffy’s delegation was that of playing favorites (particularly with sore points Spike and Angel). That’s great if you want to have hot bad boy sex. Bad if you want to actually lead a lot of people you’re not sleeping with. Buffy actively ignored advice and caution from: Giles, Xander, Dawn, Robin, and others over Spike’s danger. Why? Because Spike was hot. Being a hot cheerleader in other means, with a vampire pseudo QB, may appeal to an audience but is pretty bad leadership examples in real life.

    Empower others? Please, Buffy didn’t give them much power or say in their lives, just a dictat (to a life she herself found often violent and unpleasant).

    Have a life? Spike, Angel, that’s a life? Please its no separation at all from work.

    1. Brianne
      Brianne at |

      A) It’s a television show. Calm down.

      B) You may have been trying to prove a point but the only thing you proved is an underlying hatred of women and that you get irked very easily.

    2. Doom Ugget
      Doom Ugget at |

      I feel like Whiskey, while a little misogynistic for my taste, makes a good point: Buffy did make a lot of mistakes. She made plenty of stupid, selfish decisions. And you know what? That, to me, just makes Amber’s argument even stronger.

      Buffy was human. Non-profit leaders are human. All do-gooders and world-savers are, in the end, still fallible. Sometimes they make the wrong decisions, and sometimes a good leader in the non-profit sector comes up with an awesome project or program that doesn’t work out. Maybe it doesn’t get funding, or maybe it ends up needing a lot of tweaking in order to become a viable program. And, if we’re following Buffy’s example of leadership, we learn something else: When she falls down, she gets back up. Whiskey, if anything, her human weaknesses and mistakes make her victories even MORE potent. They don’t make her less of a role-model. In fact, her mistakes show us that all good leaders sometimes fail, and how you handle your mess-ups is just as important as how you handle your successes.

      And on more of a fandom note: Buffy didn’t choose to trust Spike in season seven because of his body. They didn’t engage in physical intimacy that season. She trusted him because she saw he had changed–a change he had to work very hard to accomplish. If anything, that storyline teaches us the importance of forgiveness and new perspectives.

      Also, Buffy trains constantly. In season five she’s training especially hard, which Joss uses as a buildup to make the season’s end that much more shocking. And in season seven, she trains the new recruits. Furthermore, by “empowering” them to become full-fledged slayers, she’s hardly dragging them into a brutal life. The First Evil is targeting all potentials. Either she gives them the power to protect themselves, or they’re all going to die anyways.

      But this isn’t really a blog about fandom debates. It’s a creative way of the author combining her passion for social change with what is clearly a show she loves. There’s really no purpose in arguing with her about the various interpretations of Buffy the Vampire Slayer because, honestly… that wasn’t the point of her blog. The point was we should try to be good leaders, make a difference in the world, and be kind to people. Why argue with that?

  16. Andrew
    Andrew at |


    How dare you take something that was originally, for all intents and purposes, meant for entertainment purposes and use it as a basis for doing something good!

    What nerve you have, allowing it to be something of a backbone to the reasoning you have for why you do what you do!

    And how GALLING it is, to see this elaborately well-written piece, helping to explain how said piece of entertainment can be used to relate to what you are doing with those who may not understand what it is you ARE doing!

    Pardon, but you might need to invest in some Brawny paper towels to sop up that dripping sarcasm, above. The point is that while it was a television show with, I’m sure, several flaws to characters and their responsibilities in the premise of the show, you decided to turn it into a learning experience where you share your knowledge for the greater good.

    So, while there might be a misogynistic synopsis of what NOT to do, you have subscribed to the contrary. Good on ‘ya, and though I have been silent, as of late, I am still thoroughly impressed and in great admiration for what it is you do.

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