The very beginning of Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life” has this bold statement as the very first sentence: “It’s not about you”.
This is not exactly a warm and fuzzy way to start a book. However, he makes a powerful point: life at its essence is not first and foremost about you. This is certainly the mentality that effective leaders of nonprofits have when it comes to leading their nonprofits.
Effective leaders put the needs of the community foremost on their minds, not their professional advancement, personal agenda or their desire for a community-wide, collective “attaboy”.
When I was recently interviewing Marc Pitman, known around the country as the “Fundraising Coach”, on my nonprofit leadership podcast, he reminded me and all of our listeners about the fact that when one starts and/or leads a nonprofit, that person essentially gives up that nonprofit to the community and the board that governs you.
It is no longer “yours”. It never was. Additionally, he went on to talk about the importance of becoming aware of your donor’s needs in order to more effectively communicate the mission of your organization and how it matches a donor’s desire to make the greatest impact with their resources.
Effective leaders are others-centered.
I do not think this means that leaders are to completely ignore their own motivation, personal experience or individual wiring.
What it does mean is that the primary focus of one’s mission and the key deciding factors in decision making have to move beyond a person’s individual needs and desires to the needs of the community and the world.
I wonder how much more good can be done in our world, if leaders really took this to heart?
One of the quotes that continually reminds me to move beyond myself is the statement by Frederick Buchner’s who said: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
It is not enough to serve simply out of your “deep gladness”, the world’s great needs and deep hunger must shape our mindset and inform our decision making.
It starts with me, and with you.