All development professionals have a manager or supervisor. Someone who answers questions, approves time off, and conducts a yearly review. Management is important and a critical part of guiding organizations through day-to-day activities.

However, not everyone has a leader. What’s the difference? Think about your favorite leaders. What made them so special? Did they immediately have an answer to every question you asked? Did they solve every issue for you? Did they resolve every conflict you had with your colleagues? Probably not—and that may have been one of the reasons they were so great.

“Manager” is a fixed status or job title set by the organization and entails supervising a specific team to complete a task or set of tasks. “Leader” is a fluid status that represents an individual guiding a team. This team and its “fluid leader” may be formally identified or organic, but everyone on the team has a common goal or desired outcome. As this team works toward achieving its goal, different members of the group may take on leadership roles, depending on the skillsets they bring to the table.

So, what do great leaders do that makes them so impactful? They know how to create successful working relationships within their teams and across others.

1. Share Organizational Vision and Knowledge

Leaders ensure everyone understands the goal and what it will take to get there. Great leaders empower their teams to help identify these goals and the steps needed to achieve them.

2. Maintain Disciplined Attention to Communication

Leaders identify team members’ preferred methods of communications—and use them.

3. Combine Professional Confidence with Personal Humility

Leaders demonstrate how they add value with their actions, but aren’t afraid to ask questions and listen openly to understand and learn.

4. Build Trust-Based Engagement

Leaders create a foundation of trust that runs not only from the team member to the leader, but also from the leader to the team member.

5. Cultivate Professional Relationships

Leaders show genuine interest and appreciation for each team member. Truly effective leaders understand the collective power of the team and work to facilitate meaningful relationships and meaningful work.

Great leaders realize that they aren’t in their position because they can do the task alone or better than others. Rather, they focus on the skills and knowledge of everyone involved and strategize to have the team work together most effectively and efficiently. Great leaders coach their team to greater performance and increased job satisfaction.


With increased pressure to raise more philanthropic dollars, advancement teams are in need of great leadership to guide their teams to greater success. To address this rising need, Advancement Resources has created an exclusive program specially for current leaders in the advancement field: the International Academy for Advancement Leadership.

Begin your journey to becoming an effective leader.