I once worked for a charismatic and highly successful major gift fundraiser. His most outstanding competencies included ego strength, intelligence, a driving force to succeed, quick decision-making, and verbal agility. He liked being in front of the crowd rather than being a team member. On the down-side, he tended to bulldoze rather than finesse. A quick-silver temper could leave the team reeling and a lack of good listening skills made it hard for the team to recover. When it came time to hire leaders under him, he picked people who “looked” like him — same competencies and skills and many if not most from very similar backgrounds.
It’s natural to want surround oneself with people who share our strengths and point of view. But it’s often not the right path for sustainable fundraising success.
- Know your strengths, weaknesses, communication and leadership style. Figure out your “blind spots” – those areas that trip you up but you don’t see coming. Seek honest feedback. As your peers, team members and supervisor about your strengths and weaknesses. Listen! We recommend taking a personality profile like DiSC or Myers Briggs. Email us for a free copy of our Management and Leadership IQ™ assessment tool at Karen@theosbornegroup.com
- Then, when it is time to hire or form a working group, look for people who complement your skills, experiences, competencies and style rather than have the same set. If you are an idea person, for example, like I am, you have a new “great” idea at least once a day. If everyone around you is an enthusiastic follower, or focused on the how to get the idea implemented, you need someone nearby who will ask, “And why is that such a good idea?” “Is that the right thing for us to do at this time?”
- Diversity makes us all better. Seek diversity in backgrounds, experiences, ethnicity, geography, worldview, and communication styles.
- Strengths overused often become weaknesses. A hard driver often needs someone on the team who has the courage to say “whoa.” A quick decision-maker often needs a thoughtful investigator as a partner.
Ask strategic questions that help you uncover the qualities of the possible team member, board member, volunteer, or new hire. Remember to “balance your act” for greater fundraising success.
By Karen Osborne