Who are fundraising leaders? Are they the professionals waving from the top rung of the career ladder serving as a VP or even president?
Do we perceive mid-level professionals – directors of development or department and unit heads – as leaders as well? As this commentary from The Chronicle of Higher Education (Pamela Eddy, Regina Garza Mitchell & Marilyn J. Amey, November 27, 2016) indicates:
Leaders can be found at all levels within an organization. In fact, the authors suggest that mid-level leaders are the glue that holds many organizations together. In particular, mid-level leaders can provide stability within an institution during transitions.
The authors offer several ways in which we can expand our thinking about leaders by considering points, such as: Encouraging mid-level leaders to see themselves as leaders and enacting change by exerting “authority versus power.” One point that stands out for me is “it’s not about you.”
This previous post of mine focuses on the topic “It’s Not about You!” speaks to advice given by Advancement Resources when working with donors: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/its-you-sophie-penney
The principle of being other focused can be applied to mid-level leadership. Understanding the expectations placed on others, the viewpoints that they bring, and pressures they face can lead to identifying common ground. Once that common ground has been found it is much easier to identify strategies and tactics that takes shared goals and interests into account and lead to win-win scenarios.
We use case studies in Penn State’s Certificate Program in Fundraising Leadership:
to place students in such contexts. Students experience what it is like to manage up, down, and all around in both large and small nonprofits.
What lessons have you learned about working in the middle? What experiences do you have to share? I hope to hear from you because you may have a story that we could share with our students.
Sophie W. Penney, PhD is the Program Coordinator and Lecturer for Penn States all online Certificate Program in Fundraising Leadership: www.worldcampus.psu.edu/flc and is the founder and President of i5 Fundraising.