What is Quality Leadership in a Grant Proposal?

Every grant proposal effort needs a strong leader, and that leader usually is the Proposal Manager.  Many of the skills needed to be a successful Proposal Manager are very specific to the proposal arena.  In other words, just because you are a good project manager does not mean you will automatically be a successful Proposal Manager.

However, there are five attributes of a good Proposal Manager that are true of business leaders in general.  I have taken these attributes from The Brosche Group’s Web site on the characteristics of good small business leaders and modified them to fit grant Proposal Managers.  They apply equally to leadership in nonprofit organizations.

A good Proposal Manager is approachable.

In a successful proposal effort, members of the grant proposal team must be able to approach the Proposal Manager.  If you cannot be approached, team members will quickly become dissatisfied, and that is likely to torpedo your proposal effort.

A good Proposal Manager is responsible.

Whether the grant proposal effort goes well or not, a good Proposal Manager must be able to take responsibility.  Anything that goes wrong will be traced back to you.  Taking responsibility is the first step in recognizing and remedying issues, problems, and concerns.  And if things go well, your best response should be to laud the team for its collective effort.

A good Proposal Manager is respectable.

If you are not respected, the grant proposal team is not likely to work well together and produce a good proposal.  There are many elements that comprise respectability.  I think the two most important are (1) acting ethically; and (2) treating those around you as professionals.

A good Proposal Manager is adaptable.

You must be prepared for change and the unexpected.  No grant proposal effort ever goes as smoothly as planned.  You must respond to hurdles and changes by quickly adapting to them so that the proposal effort succeeds.  Rigidity is the enemy of successful proposal development.

A good Proposal Manager knows the importance of the grant proposal team.

You need to be able to listen to your grant proposal tram, respect their advice, and recognize the contributions.  Make sure that your proposal team knows they are valued.  The best ways to do this are to treat them respectfully and say those simple but underused words frequently – “thank you.”

If you can exemplify these five characteristics of a good Proposal Manager, you may achieve great success!

 

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