We’ve had the privilege of working with many incredible non-profit leaders, and while they all have their unique passions, backgrounds, and skillsets, there are a few things that every great leader has in common.
In this Question of the Month video, Richard and Jeff discuss the three key strengths that all leaders need to have.
We hope this video leaves you feeling inspired and less overwhelmed about what you really need to focus on to be a great non-profit leader. And if you’re looking for more support in your leadership role, check out our Certification Course for Fundraising Managers and Executives.
Read the full transcript below:
Hi, and welcome to the question of the month. This month, we’re going to hear from Richard. And I’m really excited for this topic because we always get questions trying to break down concepts, like leadership, into specific “must haves” that you need to be successful. So, Richard, this month’s question is this: what are the three things you need to be a successful leader?
Well, I think one of the first things is emotional intelligence. And you know, a lot of people talk about emotional intelligence, and you and I know how important that is. I mean, you can know a lot about management, but if you’re not actually self-aware, or aware of the environment, or aware of the cues coming from your staff, from your managers, I mean, you cannot possibly create a culture that sensitive. I mean, you and I, between us, over the years, we’ve talked about this. “Hey, Richard, have you thought about…I mean, I’ve noticed that…” You pick up some clue or some cues, and we talk about the feelings, and the thoughts, and the vibe, and understanding the heart of people around us and our clients. Emotional intelligence is one of the big, big, big things that a system and structure that supports success is so important to be successful. I mean, how many organization structures and processes have we seen that when you look at it – in fact, I remember talking to you about one, just last week – where it’s like, “I can’t make any sense out of this thing?” I mean, there’s not a logic to it. And we’ve talked a lot about aligning to the donor pipeline. But that’s one area. I mean, the other area is just like, does it actually make sense? Like, if you take the program area, does it talk about…is it organized in such a way to not only execute the programs, but to deliver the outcomes? How many situations have we seen where there’s no outcomes?
A lot of times what we see from weak leaders, is that they create structures and program heads based on personalities, or stronger personalities, right? So they created systems around people, because they have been around a long time, or they don’t know how to confront those people. And so they allow them all this power, and they mess things up, because the leader doesn’t want to really deal with it.
Well, it’s got a lot of conflict and sometimes, if you’re going to have conflict with one of those people that has been around for 1000 years, you actually might lose something in a short term. But, I mean, we’ve always suggested like, just zero-base the whole structure, zero-base it. And say, is this the right way to do things? Is this the right way to do things in order to be successful? It’s very important in terms of success. And then the other thing that you and I have talked about so much, is this whole thing of setting up an environment of accountability. I mean, you and I, in our personal lives, in our relationship, have held each other accountable. Like, it’s, “Hey, you know, you just did that.” Or, “You just said that,” right? Or, “Did you do that? You said you were going to do this.” And it creates, after you create a level of trust, which you’ve done, because you have emotional intelligence, you have a system that’s accountable. And people feel more comfortable. Who doesn’t actually, I mean, once you kind of settle it down, and you realize that someone’s not going to punish you, who doesn’t want accountability? You can be your better self when you’re accountable. So I think those are the three things: emotional intelligence, setting up a structure for success, and then setting up accountability. Those are the three things that I think, spell out how to do it best.
This was great, and I hope you’re feeling inspired and less overwhelmed about what you need to focus on to be a successful non-profit leader. If you want to dive deeper into how you implement a system and structure to support your fundraising strategy, you’ll want to check out our certification course for fundraising managers and leaders. This eight module course covers how to create a culture of philanthropy, by creating systems for accountability, reporting, and metrics, with a focus on your role in fundraising. It’s packed with tools and strategies that you need to lead your organization well. Plus, when you complete it, you’ll earn 36 CFRE credits and become a Veritus Scholar. You can learn more about this course and find dates for upcoming sessions by clicking on the button below or the link in this post. Thank you and see you next time.