Wholehearted Leadership

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”       ~ Theodore Roosevelt

by Bethany Peak

Wholehearted leadership is integral to the success of a nonprofit organization. Be passionate, relational, and maximize the efforts of others to achieve your goal. Let’s take a look at the characteristics that define wholehearted leaders:


“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”  ~ John Maxwell

Passion is your driving force; it’s what gets you from wanting to see a change to being the change. You don’t need a title, experience, or a fancy degree to have passion. Passion begins in your heart and radiates outward until it lights a fire under your feet. Without passion, you are merely going through the motions. You’ll check things off your to-do list, return phone calls, and answer emails, but you’ll never aspire to reach a higher goal and you’ll certainly never inspire others to do the same.


Purpose is your goal, your end game. It is your response to your passion. Ask yourself what it is that you want to accomplish – that’s your purpose.

For some, a sense of purpose is innate, but for most, it is a constant journey. Make intentional choices on your journey every day to lead you to your purpose. Others will take note and join you on your mission. Remember, your choices in life will determine whether you stay on track to achieve your purpose. How will your followers respond when the choices you’ve made have led to a new purpose?


“Where there is no vision, the people perish …” ~ Proverbs 29:18

Get organized and create a plan. You’re likely going to have to pull together many working parts in order to get this train on the rails. Diving in head first without a strategy is going to hinder you from carrying out your initiative.


“To lead well means you have to equip others well, so that they get where you are going.” ~ Carolyn McCulley, author, speaker, and documentary filmmaker

Propelling others to carry out the work necessary to accomplish the goal – that’s really where the rubber meets the road. Wholehearted leaders make this happen because they recognize the difference between managing and leading.

According to LoriAnn Lowery-Biggers, Sr. Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Navigators Management Company, Inc., good leaders are able to juggle all the proverbial balls in the air, but “great leaders catch the crystal [balls] and let rubber ones bounce.”

So, train others well and trust them to do the work. This is especially important at a nonprofit organization, where leaders must inspire others to make a difference. Focus on shifting your attention from managing others’ work to relating to the others who do the work. Lead by example because it is going to take more than one great general to win the war; it’s going to take an army.

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