Help Someone Else Succeed
I have come to believe that those who contribute the most to the leadership in our profession, as well as achieve the greatest success raising funds for their organizations, are those people who were mentored and inspired by other development professionals.
When we conduct a search to recruit new talent to fill a chief development-officer position, we always ask our candidates to describe the individual, or individuals, who most inspired them early in their careers. Invariably, we find that candidates who were fortunate enough to learn the secrets of fundraising from a talented development professional have achieved higher levels of success in the field than those who never had the privilege of learning from another “great.”
Some of the leadership traits and qualities of great fundraising executives, as cited by those who admired them most, include:
- willingness to communicate and share information;
- genuine concern for the professional development of others;
- willingness to actively contribute to their staff’s professional development;
- commitment to educate, train and mentor;
- attention to organizational detail;
- ability to captivate and retain the attention of others;
- a modest disposition;
- a sense of vision and alignment;
- technical expertise; and
- a passion for excellence.
If you are a neophyte in the fundraising field, you now know the qualities you should be looking for in a boss — if you have hopes that she will help with your career growth. The person with these traits is definitely someone you should want to work for.
An exercise in humility
One of the most appreciated qualities of a good leader is modesty — that rare individual who doesn’t acknowledge that he is actually a great leader. Leadership is inherent to their normal scheme of things since they often do things out of necessity and rarely take credit for their success. Their actions, not their declarations of being a great leader, determine their success.