Leading the Charge!

Vision. Passion. Mission.

We lob those terms around so feely, but what do they mean? More importantly, how do we instill and implement them day-to-day?

I've been thinking about this since I recently wrote about the gap (chasm) between technique and touch. And the only bridge I can find are in these core values.

Bear with me as I try to explain.

We've worked for years with a client that focuses on addiction treatment. In the earliest days of that profession, there was sometimes a carefully nuanced distinction between the counselor trained by experience (a recovering addict) and the counselor trained in the classroom (a licensed therapist).

Was one more qualified than the other? More authentic? More committed? More reliable? (Hint: it's a false dilemma; there's no right answer.)

But I've been struck recently at how that same dilemma can creep into the work we do. Into fundraising and nonprofits.

This is not a rant against the growing number of professional certifications and degrees. I think the training is good. I'm a firm believer in "sharpening the saw."

But technical skills alone will not suffice.

This came home to me in a meeting a few days ago. A telemarketing manager was explaining to a prospective client how callers were selected for an account. The most critical factor, he observed, was the caller's affinity for the cause. Without that, it simply wouldn't be possible to connect with the person on the other end of the line.

Think about how this might apply in your own organization.

How many nonprofits start with a single person, or small group of people, who have a passion for a cause . . . share a vision for a solution . . . and make it their mission to accomplish that goal?

But success is a two-edged sword. (As opposed to a false dilemma!) As the organization grows, how do you maintain that original intensity and authenticity?

An effective manager must always look for technical competence. Good training helps build those skills.

But that manager's real job is to convey the mission . . . share the vision . . . and instill the passion at the core of the organization.

Because if that's not present at every level of the organization, connections with supporters may begin to fail.