I have been thinking for a long while about the shared characteristics between effective leaders and effective development professionals. In fact, last summer I expressed a few early thoughts on the topic.
Below are observations of effective leadership characteristics from 4 separate research teams. As you read each characteristic, think about how each applies to our work with donors and in development as a whole.
In 2001, Boal and Hooijberg stated that effective leadership is comprised of 3 factors:
- Absorptive Capacity, or the ability to learn and apply new material or findings;
- Adaptive Capacity, or the ability to change due to context; and
- Managerial Wisdom, or maintaining a discerning and intuitive perspective in varying conditions.
In 1996, Stephen Covey, stated that effective leaders are:
- Pathfinders, creating a vision and mission;
- Aligners, assuring that organization structure, systems, and operations contribute to that vision and mission; and,
- Empowerers, sparking the dormant talents, creativity, and aptitudes in others to accomplish the mission.
In 2003, Wong suggested that effective leaders are competent in the following aress:
- Identity – or the ability to know ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, and adapt as needed;
- Mental Agility – the ability to scan and process the situation at hand and envision how what is happening now will impact the future;
- Cross-Cultural Savvy – the ability to see and appreciate multiple perspectives, especially political, religious, and cultural differences;
- Interpersonal Maturity – the ability to empower, involve others, to be persuasive, and consensus builders;
- Professional Astuteness – ambitiousness, but moreso for the organization and less for self.
Finally, my friend, Grady Bogue has written extensively on effective leadership and he lists the following as characteristics of effective leaders. They have: Honor, Dignity, Candor, Compassion, Courage, a Habit of Curiosity, an Expectation of Excellence, and a Servant Mindset.
Do any of these characteristics sound familiar? They should! I could easily re-label these leadership characteristics as the characteristics of effective development professionals. Read through the list again and see if you can’t easily relate each characteristic to our work with donors and in development overall.
Sometimes we have to make up new words to really express what we mean.
So, I’m making up a new word – “Phileadthropy” – or the integration of leadership and philanthropy. To succeed as a leader or as a development professional requires many of the same skills, aptitudes, and attitudes. It requires an understanding of “phileadthropy.”
“Phileadthropists” are those who work in the world of philanthropy with exceptional ability. Phileadthropists do our work exceedingly well. Perhaps you know one, or more. They are the leaders in our work – not necessarily by title, but more importantly, but characteristic.
In my next post, I will talk more about what I view as the 7 Characteristics of Phileadthropists.