Don’t Get Things Done in 2010

Marketing guru Seth Godin’s new free e-book, “What Matters Now” includes 70 different authors’ ideas on what we should be thinking about in 2010.  In the book Gina Trapani suggests that “getting things done isn’t the same as making things happen.”  I read this and thought of our work as development professionals and leaders.

Too often I find leaders trapped in a myopic haze of “getting things done.” They have up-to-date to-do lists, are highly organized, and extremely busy.  They are working hard.  But, in the end, the results just aren’t coming – at least not at the rate needed.  They are tired and frustrated.

The cause of this predicament, almost universally, stems from a habit of focusing on tasks instead of people.  We lead people, not tasks or to-do lists.  And we “make things happen”, especially “big things,” with and through other people.   On the other hand, we can typically “get things done” by ourselves.

One of my colleagues, Guy Adams,  likes to say, “the desk is the enemy of a development leader.”  His point is that leading the members of your team, providing leadership to major donors, and leading your organization are all active arts that must be practiced regularly with people.  You don’t do that work effectively by completing tasks and “getting things done” while sitting behind a desk.

As you prepare for a prosperous and productive 2010, pause to think about how you can “make things happen” more and “get things done” less.  My bet is that you’ll sense the need to focus more attention on people – helping them stretch their aspirations, become more involved, and increase their inclination to give of themselves.  And, after all, isn’t this why you got into this work in the first place?

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