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True Leadership: Presidential Lessons Alive and Well in Local Nonprofits

By Steve Moore – February 2018

 

“I hold that while man exists, it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind.”

– Abraham Lincoln

When we think of the President of the United States—not of any specific individual to hold the office but rather the role itself—most of us envision a noble leader. Someone with a grand vision to improve our country, someone who wants to serve all the citizens of our nation and someone who can bring together diverse coalitions of supporters to move America in a positive direction.

“We cannot succeed only by concert. It is not, ‘Can any of us imagine better,’ but ‘Can we all do better?’”

– Abraham Lincoln

In a country as large as the United States, we expect that our leaders will always have their detractors. No President in history has ever enjoyed an approval rating of 100 percent and this has never been clearer than over the last few decades as our country has become more polarized and fractured. Regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, we all hope that person will bring wisdom, grace and a desire to collaborate in leading our country.

 

From the involvement of Washington and future presidents at the Constitutional Convention to the Monroe Doctrine, from Theodore Roosevelt’s creation of the US Forest Service, to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, one of the ways we measure the success or failure of a President is the ability to bring forth a grand vision and make it concrete. The representations of this work that last the longest and have the greatest impact are those efforts that are built on creative thinking, long-term dedication and thoughtful collaboration across different demographics.

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of a creative effort.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

We are fortunate because these qualities we seek in our highest elected leaders are also hard at work in the nonprofit community. Every day, we see nonprofit professionals, business partners and entrepreneurs foster thoughtful collaboration in order to help bring a grand vision to light. These efforts pay dividends for all involved as well as for the regions they serve.

 

As an example, we recently shared how the Oregon Community Foundation has brought together more than 20 funders to collaborate on the Oregon Impact Fund, benefiting local communities. Similarly, Michael Kaiser and Brett Egan with the arts management team from the University of Maryland and the Kennedy Center, are bringing experts in the business and nonprofit world together to benefit the arts community through a unique capacity building program. There are countless individuals and groups working together to serve the common good in creative, thoughtful ways.

 

Today, we honor the dedication and hard work of those who have lead our country to its finest moments and we say thank you to the nonprofits and individuals who are leading our communities to a brighter tomorrow.

 

Photo by Stephen Oliver on Unsplash