VOL. 132 | NO. 42 | Tuesday, February 28, 2017
FUNdraising Good Times
Pearl and Mel Shaw
Secrets to Passionate Leadership
BY MEL AND PEARL SHAW
Some leaders have charisma, that ability to engage others. They reach out and touch your heart and soul. Others are quiet with a passion that reveals itself more slowly but is equally compelling. These leaders know what they are talking about, and they know how to connect with people.
They are not promoting themselves, they are promoting a vision they believe in. They are promoting a vision that is made manifest through an organization. The leader brings you in. He or she draws you into a vision and paints a picture that includes you. You are important. You make the difference.
Danny Thomas had this quality. When he walked into a room, he had you. Even when St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was just launching, Memphis was spellbound by his vision and wanted to get involved.
Jerry Lewis drew in the crowds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Lou Rawls did it for the United Negro College Fund. These were two different types of leaders, but both grabbed you and brought you in.
Today, John Hope Bryant of Operation HOPE and Beverly Robertson, former executive director of the National Civil Rights Museum, are examples of leaders who grab your attention with their commitment. They go out into the community and talk to people. They share their vision and encourage others to advance a shared mission.
These leaders have the intangible quality that’s at the heart of success for businesses and nonprofits. It’s a quality that draws people in. Every organization needs engaging leadership, but if it’s all you have, you’re in trouble. Remember, when you bring people in, you need the systems and infrastructure to support their involvement. In many organizations that’s the work of the chief operating officer, the leader who is focused on business and programmatic operations. Partnering a visionary with a tactician creates the magic you need to attract and sustain volunteers, advocates and investors.
You also need a compelling case for support. We write about this often as the case is the heart of all communications and fundraising. But remember this: A case is like a script for a play or movie. The script is critical. But without actors it doesn’t come to life.
But that actor – the visionary leader – takes the case and brings it to life through words and actions. The visionary leader engages others; there are roles for people to play, and the script (case for support) comes to life through people and their talents and resources.
Think about your organization, leadership and how you engage your community. Know inside your heart that you need others to bring your vision to life. Talk to everyone and invite them to participate in a shared vision.
Mel and Pearl Shaw, owners of fundraising consultancy firm Saad&Shaw, can be reached at 901-522-8727 or saadandshaw.com.