Top 10 Tips for being a successful charity leader

1. Create a compelling vision for the future

Clearly presenting your charity’s vision will create a desire and a will to move towards its successful achievement, whilst also aligning behaviour and focus.

2. Be emotionally intelligent

Focus on self, and group, improvement and manage performance appropriately, addressing issues as they arise. Be personally effective (self-aware) and inter-personally effective (awareness/empathy with others).

3. Make good governance ‘the norm’
Create an environment throughout your charity with good practice being adopted and seen to be
consistently followed by all.

4. Lead by example
Set the tone and style at meetings and behave as a champion for your charity. Know your
sector and market thoroughly.

5. Be Strategic
Keep your team focused on your charity’s strategic aims. Look for opportunities to challenge the
status quo. Are there new ways of doing things? How could your charity become more efficient
and effective? Remember, not all decisions will be easy so do what is required to advance the
charity and act in its best interests.

6. High performance expectations
Ensure goals, objectives and expectations of performance are clear, challenging and achievable.
Prioritise issues according to importance and risk – consider and evaluate accordingly.

7. Listen
Seek feedback and views from your trustees, employees, volunteers or beneficiaries, as well as those outside your charity such as partners and funders. Use this invaluable information to inform your discussions and considerations.

8. Believe
Believe in the ethos of your charity. Make it the focus of your efforts. Create an environment that
stimulates thinking, challenge and discussion.

9. Provide individualised support
Be supportive to individuals in achieving tasks, objectives, outcomes and goals. Remember,
induction of new trustees and ongoing training of existing trustees is a legal requirement under
SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice).

10. Remember – it’s not about you!
Stay true to your charity’s objectives. Focus on the changing needs of your beneficiaries and plan
succession amongst the trustees – including your own replacement.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

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Catherine Rustomji

Director - Head of Charities & Social Enterprise

I am an experienced charities solicitor who advises on all aspects of charity law and regulation, in particular governance, constitutional issues and advising charity trustees on their duties and responsibilities.