Become a better leader by investing more in your personal relationships


Leading a nonprofit isn’t easy. Neither is successfully running a development department.

No matter how hard you work, you never have all the resources you need to accomplish your mission. People are constantly vying for your time and attention. You work late most nights, and take work home with you on the weekends. Then there are the special events that steal whole days from you – and your weekends too! If you’re dedicated (which most people in the space are), you are probably spending way more time working for your cause than most would consider healthy.

And it might be hurting you (and your relationships) more than you realize today.

Sometimes this kind of work, and the dedication it takes to really make things happen in the nonprofit space, takes a toll on your relationships. Maybe it’s the relationship you have with your spouse, or your kids. Maybe it’s your friendships, or other key relationships in your life.

I don’t work inside a nonprofit anymore, but I think I work just as hard supporting nonprofits now as a fundraising consultant.

Full disclosure, I’m writing this post on Easter Sunday from 30,000 feet in the air as I’m making my way to Los Angeles for work (I know, Pot/Kettle action going on here…).

A few days ago I read a blog post titled How Entrepreneurs Can Succeed At Work Without Blowing Up Their Marriages, by Michael Hyatt.

The tips in his post hit home for me. There are a lot of similarities between being an entrepreneur and leading a nonprofit organization.

Personally, a lot of the time it’s easy for me to get so laser-focused on my work helping to raise money for food banks across the U.S., that I can work an 18-hour day three or four days a week without thinking twice about it.

After all, feeding hungry people is critically important, and I take this obligation seriously – just as I’m sure you take your obligation to your cause and organization seriously too!

But what I sometimes forget when I think like this is that there are others to whom I owe an even greater obligation. My wife and kids.

What I realized is in reading Michael’s post is, by making the decision to intentionally invest differently in my relationships, I can successfully manage both work and home. If you’re struggling with this balancing act, I hope you’ll take some time to read Hyatt’s entire post and think about how it applies for you.

Briefly, here’s an excerpt from the post:

“If you are the entrepreneur in your marriage, you can help your spouse (and yourself) by giving him or her these five gifts:

  1. The gift of honor. Our spouses are more important than our work, whatever that work may be. To give this gift, we esteem and value what our spouses esteem and value. We give priority to their priorities, and use our words to praise and uplift, especially when our spouses are absent.
  2. The gift of awareness. It’s easy in the hyper focus of hard-drivers to see themselves as the center of the show. We’re not—no matter how much money we make. We need to be aware of all the material and nonmaterial contributions our spouses make to our lives.
  3. The gift of inclusion. Including our spouses in our businesses creates intimacy, builds trust, and brings us together. Whether it’s just receiving input or counsel, or getting into the nitty-gritty details of the business, our marriages win if we keep our spouses in the loop.
  4. The gift of commitment. We talked about this in the previous list. But this is an essential gift for both spouses to give and receive. It’s critical to make this commitment concrete and observable in our actions.
  5. The gift of trust. Because the entrepreneurial life is risky, it’s easy to default to fear. So many things can go wrong. To counter that, we can over-function and become workaholics. That ends up taking, not giving. Instead, we can bless our spouse by realizing it doesn’t all hang on our solitary shoulders—something that goes back to developing an attitude of abundance.”

What would you add to this list? What other tips do you have for balancing the dedication you feel to your cause with your desire to have a healthy personal and family life?


Photo by Vlado. Published on 19 February 2012 via

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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