This month we decided that getting down to business could wait. Instead of jumping right in, we decided to give everyone a turn to share their wins – uplifting stories about positive transformations we’ve seen, well-handled leadership transitions we’ve been a part of, and successful fundraising campaigns we’ve supported. As everyone shared their success stories, we realized that a clear thread was emerging. There was one thing these stories all had in common – great leadership.
Whether the effective leadership was ours or someone else’s, it was clear to see that none of the wins being shared would ever have been accomplished without great leaders driving them. So, we’re sharing the characteristics of great nonprofit leaders that we discussed with you today so that you can grow and develop as well.
We hope that you will find these great nonprofit leadership traits helpful in your own professional journey and share them with your colleagues to support them in their careers as well. Now, this list is by no means inclusive of all characteristics that make great leaders great, but these are the attributes that we have seen play the biggest role in our most recent successes. Enjoy!
Respects Work-Life Balance
The best nonprofit leaders will be committed to the organization and the role and will expect the same from their staff. However, they also understand that people are more than just the work they do. They will respect their staff and volunteers enough to allow them to pursue a work-life balance that fits their needs and desires, understanding that doing so will improve their work outcomes and, therefore, the overall organization as well.
Form Genuine Relationships
Leadership is about relationships, and great nonprofit leaders understand this. They take the time to form genuine relationships with not only their staff but also the people/animals/areas they are serving. They use sharing and communication as a two-way street to bring people together and create a mission that others can believe in.
Having a well-honed specialty is wonderful if you can find a role that only requires knowledge of that one particular area, but today’s increasingly interconnected social and business landscape is requiring more from leaders than ever before. As a result, a broad skillset is becoming even more valuable. Successful nonprofit leadership typically brings helpful perspective, new ideas, and a wide array of experiences and skills that they can utilize in the role. Additionally, they seek to hire and retain staff that can wear a lot of hats to get great work done.
The best leaders are those that do the job because they want to, not because they need to. They have a great love for their work. They believe in the organization and are passionate about the mission. This kind of leadership cares as deeply about those that do the work as those that they serve with the work that they do, embodying a genuine passion for lifting others up and making the world a better place.
With so much negativity in the world today, stellar leadership is able to remain optimistic about the future no matter what kind of constraints are at play. They are always looking towards the future, helping the organization to take a leap forward into whatever is coming next.
No one in leadership got to where they are overnight, which means that they relied on others along the way to help give them the knowledge and skills needed to advance their careers. Great leaders remember this and pay it forward by acting as mentors to others. Their mentorship is not just reserved for the easiest to pour into either – they also support others even when it is difficult. These kinds of leaders act in a way that is inclusive and respectful to everyone and demonstrate high emotional and social intelligence in everything that they do.
Prioritizes What is Most Important
Top nonprofit leaders stay focused on the bigger picture instead of getting stuck in the weeds. They are organized and mission-oriented in the work that they do. They have high standards for their staff and even higher standards for themselves.
These leadership traits are ones that we have experience with from specific recent examples, but it is important to note that genuine leadership does not mean using a replicating someone else’s example or following a list of directions. True leadership does not have a template. It is the act of influencing, adapting, and putting your personal mark on the people and work that makes your mission come alive.
When you need nonprofit leadership help, please contact us. Our dedicated, passionate team has significant nonprofit leadership and board experience to offer to your organization. We offer interim nonprofit leadership, nonprofit executive recruiting, and nonprofit board advisory services. We will come alongside your existing leadership team to give them the skills and resources they need to succeed in their mission. Find out more today!
THE LATEST FROM VALTAS
You are welcome to subscribe to get the latest news, updates and insights from our team.