When you ask a great player from any sport what inspired him or her, they always talk about a coach that was instrumental in their development as a player, one who helped make them who they are.
The same can be said for successful presidents, social change leaders, teachers and businesspeople. Everyone can point to someone in her life that encouraged her, challenged her and told her the truth.
Similarly, all of the great major gift officers I’ve known can also point to having someone who took him under his wing, showed him the ropes, and provided guidance, focus and counsel.
Recently, Richard and I have asked our Passionate Giving community to tell us what is important to them as we develop our online Major Gift Academy. We found it fascinating how many folks mentioned the desire to have ongoing coaching, for someone to come alongside of them to give them guidance on whether or not they are doing the right things.
Unfortunately, many MGOs don’t have effective managers that can provide this coaching for them. Either the manager doesn’t have the time, or they don’t have the skills that are required. I think this is probably the biggest reason why so many MGOs are begging for help.
Are you hungry for coaching?
Or are you one of those major gift officers that think they don’t need coaching? You see, that is the other side of this. As many people as Richard and I run into who desire coaching and management, we find another camp of major gift officers who think they can do it on their own.
Either they think it’s a sign of weakness to have someone manage their work, guide their use of time and give them strategic advice, or they have a “lone wolf” mentality that they should be just left on their own.
Honestly, these major gift officers are nowhere near as effective as they could be, nor do they have long careers. Conversely, when we see major gift officers who allow another person or persons to manage and coach them, we see dramatic changes not only in their performance, but also in their own happiness level.
Here is what good coaching and management will do:
- Encouragement — Major gift officers need to be encouraged daily in their work. It helps fuel their fire to do great work.
- Truth-telling — A good coach or manager will be able to tell the MGO the truth about her work and her interactions with donors. Someone has to be a truth-teller in your life.
- Strategic Guidance — Major gift officers need to bounce ideas off of someone. They also need someone to offer ideas and strategy on how to approach a donor, work through a problem and work on specific moves with a donor.
- A Listener — As a major gift officer, you need someone who will listen to you. A good coach or manager will do that for you. Sometimes you just need to blow off steam or talk about a problem you are having, without someone solving it for you.
Now if you had someone in your life that could provide this to you, do you think you would be a better major gift officer? Do you believe you would be more focused, effective, strategic, successful and happier? Yes, you would.
A good coach should be something you seek as a vital part of your ongoing career development. If you are resistant, spend some considerable time figuring out why. Remember, all those successful people I talked about – from sports stars to teachers to businesspeople – can all point to a coach who helped them along the way.
Who is helping you along your way?