I read “Good to Great and the Social Sectors” recently.

I’m a big reader of all things nonprofit and there are a couple of things in this short book that really resonate with me that can be applied to any nonprofit organization.

The first thing in the book that struck me was the importance of leadership for a nonprofit.

We all know that already, right?

You’ve got to have a good Executive Director in place to keep the organization moving forward and a good Board Chair to provide leadership. The book talks about leaders being “ambitious first and foremost for the cause, the movement, the mission, the work – not themselves – and they have the will to do whatever it takes to make good on that ambition.”

It goes on to talk about this leader having a combination of personal humility and professionalism.

What a wonderful combination! That definitely sounds like Good to Great, doesn’t it?

Sounds like a “servant leader” to me. When I read it again, I think it applies to fundraisers as well – being committed to the cause and not themselves.

Another point in the book that really hit home for me is to get the right people on board.

When I was responsible for hiring, I knew this to be true!

The book suggests “getting and hanging on to the right people in the first place – those who are productively neurotic, those who are self-motivated and self-disciplined, those who wake up every day, compulsively driven to do the best they can because it is simply part of their DNA.”

You can’t teach someone how to always strive to be better. You have to hire that talent.

But what about people who are already working for your organization who are stuck in the status quo?

From the top leadership, you can shift the culture of your organization to encourage staff to reach for more. Be warned it can be like steering a cruise ship – direction can be moved only a little bit at a time.

Jim Collins, the author, writes, “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”

How will you choose to go from Good to Great today?