Aspire to Be Great
In honor of this blog post, I ate a bowl of Frosted Flakes for breakfast today. I saw Tony the Tiger on the cereal cover, and all I could think of was his catchphrase, “They’re grrrrreat!” In any area of expertise, no one should automatically settle to be less than they can be. If you work in the nonprofit arena, you will quickly realize for total organizational greatness, a variety of major elements must be great.
In the article titled, “12 Attributes of Great Nonprofit Leaders,” the following are 12 attributes to look for in a great executive director/CEO. No one has all these traits, but they are something to aspire to as we admire the brave hardy souls to lead our nonprofits.
- Passion for the organization’s mission
- Ability to accept and motivate Others
- “Servant leaders”
- Deals well with conflict
- Thinks strategically, but implements tactically
- Financial acumen
- Fundraising skills
- Ability to listen
- Sound judgment
In the article, “What Makes Great Boards Great,” published in the Harvard Business Review, great board members are concerned with board governance and sound practices. These practices include regular meeting attendance; equity involvement; board member skills; board member age; independence; right board size and committees; respect, trust and candor; a culture of open dissent; fluid portfolio of roles; individual accountability; and performance evaluation. If a board is to truly fulfill its mission, it must become a robust team and place the organization first.
In an article published by Pro Staff Employer Resources, “What Makes a Great Employee,” it is noted that great companies require great employees. To find diamonds in the rough, you need to look beyond skills, education and experience.
According to the article, you need employees that have the following attributes:
- Reliable—do what you say you will do.
- Ambitious—people that want to go the extra mile.
- Good communicator—keep projects flowing, and morale high.
- Optimistic—promote positive behavior with a smile.
- Self-managed—get the job done.
- Humble—prove value through hard work rather through words.
- Team player—team gets work faster while having more fun.
Every nonprofit needs quality volunteers. In the article, “7 Qualities of Being a Great Volunteer!” seven major points are noted for a volunteer to be perfect. These individuals must be:
- Energetic and be enthusiastic about a cause
- Flexible by having and using a variety of skills and talents
- Imaginative and creative allowing your mind to be passionate about your dream to make a difference
- Reliable and committed by following through and making a lasting impact with your work
- Selfless by giving your time to a cause in order to help others in the process
- Passionate about any job or volunteer role you may undertake as every volunteer job is important
- Team player, as the world is not changed by one individual, but a group of committed individuals, working together to make a difference in a positive way, while leading the organization to greatness.
With respect to an organization, according to Harvard Business Review,” the benefits of a strong corporate culture make an organization special and successful. These components are vision or mission statement, values are the core of its culture, practices what it preaches in operations, people who are hired and trained with core values and are willing to embrace those values, narrative as in unique story of importance and uniqueness, and place which impacts the values and behavior of people in the workplace. These six components can provide a firm foundation for shaping an organization’s culture.
A great organization takes great care of its staff. If you aspire to be great and work for a great organization, many great pieces of the organization must be in place. Nonprofit executives that aspire to be great should look for great nonprofit organizations. Do your research, and if you are lucky enough to work for those stellar organizations, your work experience will be enjoyable, and your work tenure will be long. Aspire to be great and work each day to make that dream a reality. You and your organization will be rewarded in many positive ways!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.