It seems to me that the very best leaders of nonprofits are those who consistently drive a sense of mission down through the organization, into the board, and outward to the community.
When I am fortunate enough to work with this kind of leader, I know great things are about to happen. These leaders understand they need to be more than “the boss.” They must have a tool set that includes financial, operational and executive skills.
Additionally, the very best leaders I’ve worked with in my career have these traits:
trustworthy, persuasive, perceptive and flexible;
advocates for the mission;
collaborates with people and organizations that help to advance the cause;
encourages open communications;
clarifies board and staff relationships;
able to get various groups to commit to the vision;
builds strong teams while encouraging risk taking.
This is your “big idea” person, for sure. But that’s not all. Not by a long shot. This leader is also the guardian of the organization’s brand, its spokesperson in a crisis, its chief marketing officer, chief fundraiser and big chief storyteller. Those who excel in these various roles must be authentic, collaborative, persuasive and be able to mediate and negotiate in touchy situations.
This individual is also the ambassador of the nonprofit’s overall health.
A great leader is also very adept at making tough decisions that drive the mission forward, and keep the organization financially stable.
Most of all, a great leader simply leads. He makes sure everyone understands where the organization is headed and why.
There are probably attributes of great leaders that you’ve known that I didn’t mention. Share them with us here, if you’d like.