Key to Leadership
I wanted to speak to a topic that Jeff addressed in this prior post on confronting bad leadership. He was talking about bad leaders and how we are seeing more of them; he suggested that I write about what makes a good leader and manager.
As I have thought about this over the years, it’s really come down to asking myself what kind of person I want to be. This is along the lines of the Gandhi quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
So here is my list of what I think makes a good leader, manager… and also a good employee. I haven’t placed these in any particular order, as I think that each is just as worthy as the next. A good leader/manager/employee is someone who…

  1. Is Accountable – pretty hard to accomplish in a world of big egos, pride and self sufficiency, but this one is really important. If you can’t let someone – anyone – speak into your life, you’re lost.
  2. Is Authentic – you know what it’s like to be around a fake person. It’s shallow and it leaves you wanting more. A real leader/manager/employee is real, top to bottom. And hanging out with people who are truly authentic is refreshing and energizing.
  3. Is Consumed With Fostering a Positive Culture – here it’s about creating a place for everyone along common values and objectives. It’s NOT about creating a place for the leader – big difference.
  4. Despises Bureaucratic Paralysis – to this person it’s about getting stuff done vs. all the rules, regs, policies and processes. Yes, you have to manage structure and process, but the focus is doing it in a healthy way with fluidity and flexibility.
  5. Loves to Get Results Through Others – someone who recognizes the important technical, emotional and spiritual contribution that every person can make and works hard to orchestrate them together.
  6. Is Kind – and can still be firm – who can be compassionate while guiding others through difficult situations.
  7. Knows and Manages The Difference Between the Hard and Soft Sides of Management – one has to do with physical assets, the other with emotions, relationships and attitudes.
  8. Balances Life at Work and at Home – knows how to turn off work and focus on family and others while properly loving him or herself.
  9. Is Driven by a Set of Values – there is something bigger that drives this person. It’s not just money, achievement or recognition, although those might play. There is a distinct set of values that anchor decision making and those values are, essentially, about making the world a better place.
  10. Is Not Afraid of Change – someone who is a bit restless with the status quo, unless it is really working. These people embrace new ways to do things and do not fear failure.
  11. Places Customers and Donors First In Organizational Design – this key orientation forms a basis for rallying employees properly toward the right focus.
  12. Is Committed to Justice – valuing doing the right thing, valuing the “little guy”, valuing the person who got a raw deal and wanting to make things right.
  13. Finds Service is More Important Than Authority – is all about serving others and helping them find their way, careful in their use of authority, realizing that using authority is really the last way to lead, not the first.
  14. Has a Healthy Relationship To Money – understands that money is a way to transfer value, not an objective in and of itself. These people control the urge to love money and let it control them.
  15. Is Driven by Opportunity – always looking for opportunity and leading others to think outside the box.
  16. Can See The Big Picture – has a way of seeing what is really going on and not getting consumed or swayed by the often conflicting details that surround them each day.
  17. Is Reflective vs. Reactive – always taking a moment to think, then act vs. just acting, valuing reflection as a way of gaining to wisdom.
  18. Values Diversity – knows it’s no longer a U.S. or Canadian or European thing. It’s no longer a Western thing. It’s no longer a White thing. This person values other cultures, people groups, ways of thinking and doing.

These are just a few things on my list. And many of them are still goals of mine because it is certainly hard for me to measure up to much of this list.
I think you will agree that these are characteristics and values that are worth pursuing. In the world of fundraising and major gifts, being this kind of person will help you immensely as you relate to donors.