Authentic Relations

I highly recommend setting aside a professional development hour for LinkedIn content pursuing. Their contributors are the heavy-hitters of business discourse, and I never suffer “readers remorse.” On the contrary, I’m inspired and spend a few minutes after each read jotting down notes and brainstorming.

One of today’s reads was from business journalist George Anders, “What Low-Key People Can Teach Us.” Pungent excerpts:

Time and again, we feel most comfortable putting our trust in the good listeners — who aren’t trying to sell us too hard. When we encounter domineering personalities who try to bend us to their wills, we back off. It’s as if we can hear a “suspicion alarm” ringing in the background.

The CEOs who get in trouble are the ones who constantly try to create the illusion of success in every area. Analysts know that business is never perfect. So distrust ensues. Even if analysts don’t challenge the CEOs’ ebullience at the time, their later research reports suggest that the company is overstating minor triumphs and ignoring major problems. Credibility suffers.

CEOs fare better if they talk candidly, even ruefully, about some piece of the business that isn’t going well. They sound authentic that way. Then, when these CEOs discuss their company’s triumphs, they have far more credibility.

It’s interesting to take the above quotes and project them into the realm of development-donor-relations-let’s-use-the-new-sexy-term: Advancement. My whole charge as a fundraising professional is to cultivate relationships that perpetuate a lifetime of financial support. Long-lasting relationships are not built on a huffy elevator speech or a slick, aggressive sales pitch–they are not a single transaction. They are forged on a series of authentic and kind interactions, a chain of genuine handshakes and smiles, and truthful conversations–they are built on long-standing trust.

It is the duty of any employee of a not-for-profit organization to provide donors with the best philanthropic experience possible–to ensure organizational credibility–people do give to people after all. This does not mean painting false pictures of positivity or selling a bill of goods. It does mean being honest and open, accepting fault and molding failure into success through evolving strategies. It’s about being real, genuine and building trust.