things good leaders do

Last month I had the privilege of introducing two of my heroes, Premal Shah, President of Kiva and Charles Best, Founder & CEO of, as our Keynote speakers at the 2014 VolunteerMatch Client Summit in Detroit.

We asked them to have a conversation with each other about how technology is reinventing giving and engagement. As they were talking back and forth and sharing their stories, I was struck by how two gifted leaders go about educating, engaging and inspiring an audience to get involved. Needless to say, they are both very good at it.

Here are five things these good leaders do.

Share What You Believe In

Premal and Charles both have a very natural and infectious sense of purpose. They know what they believe in and they are both very comfortable sharing why they care. To make the connection personal, Charles talked about his experience of being a teacher and having to pay for supplies out of his own pocket. Premal is a Stanford graduate and was a product manager at PayPal before he decided to take two month off to volunteer in India.

Leadership is about standing up for something you believe in.

Be Gracious

Even though part of leadership is about differentiating yourself from others, I was struck that when given the stage to talk about themselves, both Charles and Premal were quick to be gracious and appreciative of each other. In fact, they were almost star-struck. It was a reminder to me that good leaders are not just good at talking about their own ideas; they are also good at appreciating the ideas of others.

Leadership is about learning how to appreciate others.

Get Connected

While I want to believe I’m immune from celebrity name-dropping, it just isn’t true. Premal and Charles know a lot of very influential people, and I can’t help but feel my own opinion of their leadership shaped by those associations. We all know people who are bad at name-dropping and who end up looking smaller as they vainly attempt to impress you with the people they know. But when it works, it works. I’m impressed that Reid Hoffman is an active philanthropic supporter of Kiva, and that Charles is on a first-name basis with Steven Colbert.

Leadership is about networking and building powerful relationships with people who share your passion.

Keep It Fresh and Keep Innovating

Premal and Charles have made amazing things happen. Their work has changed the lives of millions of people, but during their Summit Keynote, neither of them was satisfied telling the story of past successes. Both of them are continuing to innovate and reinvent their services to grow and open new opportunities. Kiva is bringing its global micro-lending solution back home to serve communities and entrepreneurs here in the United States with Kiva Zip, and has created new sponsorship opportunities with its “Flash Funds” program that offers funders the opportunity to underwrite every classroom in a particular geography or interest area.

Leadership doesn’t settle for yesterday’s achievements.

Give Us Something to Do

Great leaders don’t just impress us, they give us something to do. Premal gave us specific examples and a personal invitation for each of us to become a part of the Kiva lending community. Charles somehow managed to one-up that by arranging for every summit attendee to get a gift card we could spend on any classroom project to get us started.

Leadership doesn’t leave you without something to do.

Charles and Premal were inspiring and generous with their time. They reminded me of the powerful role technology continues to play in the world of philanthropy and social change.

They also reminded all of us what good leadership looks like.

Published in collaboration with LinkedIn

Author: Greg Baldwin is President of VolunteerMatch the web’s largest volunteer engagement network.

Ref: forum blog

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