The world is filled with leaders in every industry (including advancement/development) who rarely ask themselves this important question.
Posers, caring more about the perception of leadership than the practice of it, almost never ask this question. Even still, some are able to ascend to high-level, leadership posts (again, yes, even in advancement/development).
It doesn’t matter if you are asking this question in frustration and/or exasperation as in, “What am I DOING?” Or, in a more planful and strategic way, as in, “What SHOULD I be doing?” The point is that when you ask this question you are focusing yourself on what really matters: your behavior, your actions, your reactions, how you are spending your time, etc.
It is when we consistently focus ourselves on actually doing what we can — coordinating that trip to see your best prospects, writing that creative and/or heartfelt letter, making those discovery visits, personally thanking a donor for their generosity — that we are authentically rewarded. What we actually do and the results we get still matter.
Yes, many leaders are in the role because they have posed for the title. By and large, these leaders worry less about making a difference, leaving a institution better than they found it, or legitimately growing a program. They worry more about how others perceive their leadership and less about what true difference their leadership makes. So, they communicate via social media and other channels the perception of leadership.
But, neither the world nor your institution will be better because you pose, or (humble) brag post to social media, or seek out the media. Consistently focusing on what you are actually doing to advance your institution’s mission is what makes the real difference. It’s the work that matters.
So, do something good. The world needs more of that. And so do you.