Be Present not Perfect by Emily Petty

By 27/08/2020Chair Blogs

I was an ambitious fundraising leader. I wanted to raise more money for the causes I cared for but ultimately, I wanted to succeed. When I was promoted internally to a senior management role, I thought that I needed to be perfect, show complete control and not show any weaknesses or flaws. I thought I had to have all the answers, to tackle every problem my team had. I had taken on a team where I didn’t have the detailed knowledge. I lacked confidence.  If I’m honest I often felt like a fraud or imposter.

So, what did I do? I worked harder and harder to gain the knowledge I needed. I made sure that I was available for my team to help them solve all of their problems. After all, if they needed me, I must have been doing a good job. I found myself working longer hours – but I thought that came with the job.

Where did that get me? I was emotionally drained. I had a team who were becoming more and more dependent on me. I was burnt out and my team weren’t achieving results because I was the bottle neck.

Then one day I heard the phrase “be present not perfect” and it unlocked something in me. I realised that I didn’t have to have all the answers, that trying to solve my teams’ problems was actually holding my team back from growing and learning and working harder and harder was taking its toll on my health.

I realised that I needed to simply be present in each moment and that started with me knowing myself and finding the confidence to lead from my strengths. Leading my way.

I took steps to

  1. Reboot and focus on my wellbeing – to set routines and boundaries so I wasn’t operating out of stress
  2. Reconnect – I sought to connect with others in the sector and find a support network and built stronger connections in my team
  3. Grow – I adopted a growth mindset – realising that learning is a goal and it’s ok to say “I don’t know that yet” I took at coaching approach to my leadership and encouraged my team to find the answers
  4. Reenergise – I looked for tools and ways to help my team reframe how they worked helping them to dream, learn and do.

Today that means I know that I can enter any leadership situation as myself – knowing who I am and what I can offer. I no longer feel overwhelmed and stressed and I have the boundaries and support to keep life in perspective.

As we move into a new phase on the coronacoaster we are going to need leaders who are leading their way and are looking to learn every day.

You might be thinking that right now your biggest challenge is to raise more money or to do more with less. But what if I reframed that to say you biggest opportunity is to reset how you lead to help you navigate the challenges ahead?

A recent survey of fundraising leaders by Think Consulting Solutions (Feb 2020) highlighted that time and operational requirements were the biggest barrier to their leadership development.

Is that you? Are you sacrificing your own development because the operational problems just keep coming? The irony is that if you work harder and harder to keep up with the never-ending operational needs you might be focusing on the wrong things.

Emily Petty is the chair of the London Emerging Leaders group for Ella and is running a free webinar  “Be Present Not Perfect” Join her on Thursday 3 September at 12pm for a FREE live webinar.

Alongside as her work as Chair for Ella Emily helps ambitious fundraising leaders develop a fresh leadership approach through a 60-day training and coaching programme – Leadership Reset. The next programme starts on 21 September. Find out how you can boost your confidence, empower your team and achieve results in just 60 days.