Leadership is showing excellence in your work.Second in a five-part Series: It’s Not Rocket Science
When I’ve thought about excellence from time to time, I thought of it as some lofty ideal that is hardly attainable. But Tom Peters has a great definition for it, that really applies to you as major gift officers working with your portfolios. He really nails it, as far as I’m concerned. Here it is:

“Excellence is conventionally seen as a long-term aspiration, but I disagree. Excellence is the next five minutes. Excellence is determined by your next customer [donor] contact, by really listening to a colleague, by shouldering responsibility and apologizing when a mistake is made. Excellence comes in the form of small, everyday acts.”

Isn’t that a great way to think about it? Excellence in a leader is all “the little things” that make you successful. This is why Richard and I are so adamant that your work be done within a structure that helps you focus on the small things that make you successful:

  1. Working with the right donors — going through the arduous process of qualifying your donors so that you have donors that want a deeper relationship with you. Excellence here is the everyday process of remaining tenacious and patient at the same time. It’s tough work.
  2. Building a strategic plan with revenue goals for every donor — great major gift officers that show real leadership are the ones that take the time to do this properly. This act in itself shows how serious you are about the process that leads to engaging conversations, conversations that then lead to understanding your donors’ passions and interests.
  3. Tiering your donors so that you can focus your precious time correctly.
  4. Managing up so that you are proactively reporting on each of your donors.
  5. Getting to know your colleagues better, because they help you connect with your donors in much more meaningful ways.
  6. Writing everything down in your donor database, even when it’s 10pm at night after a long road trip with donors – because that will help you retain everything you did that day.

As leaders, these are the little things that show excellence in your work. If you do these “little things” well, day in and day out, they will keep you on the path to success. Too many times, Richard and I have seen major gift fundraisers who think that being a great MGO is about going after the “big donor,” or chasing the millionaire down the street to land a big gift.
True leadership and excellence show in your fundraising work when you consistently do those “small, everyday acts” well. (Tweet it!)
It’s the little things that make you big. Focus on that, and watch what begins to happen.
Read all the posts in this series: