IGPW: Grant Professionals – Leading at All Levels
Management Concepts is proud to sponsor once again this year’s International Grant Professionals Week (IGPW). We’d like to take a moment to recognize the impact of grant professionals in our communities, and at all levels of government.
Grants fund billions of dollars of activities we have deemed important through our governments, corporate and family foundations, and community organizations. For those of you outside of the grants world, imagine a complex relationship web of projects and resources.
Behind each project and resource stands at least one person – often a grant professional who has dedicated their career to matching resources to projects and causes. And these professionals lead in many different ways. Here are two examples:
- Project Managers. The best grant professionals treat each aspect of a grant as a project, even when the resources for planning and managing aren’t there. They set schedules and internal deadlines for each application. They determine processes for review and evaluation of each proposal and funded project. They work together to develop corrective action plans when projects go off track.
- Influencers. Grant professionals influence others on a daily basis. Often they have to find resources and people to help them follow the myriad of rules and regulations for each grant program and award. That can mean changing internal systems and controls in large organizations, or starting from scratch. I know from my experience supporting Federal program offices, the desire to fund activities usually did not come with sufficient resources needed to effectively support information collection. My influencing skills were certainly tested.
On the recipient side, grant professionals – or more recognizable to you as state and local governments, education, or nonprofit workers – strive to connect people to create new partnerships on a daily basis. These are the relationships that can take support of a new play and turn it into a theater festival that provides a boost to the local economy. Or brings police, fire, and EMS officials together to purchase interoperable communications technologies to enhance public safety.
As grant professionals who lead all the time, we can and should take time to hone our leadership and management skills – just like anyone else. I know that I personally benefit from opportunities to reset. It’s amazing how helpful an outside observer or mentor can help you catch and address flaws, including the new ones that come with new roles and experience.
Learning opportunities in leadership are especially important for grant professionals in “non-manager” roles. While I personally think all of us are managers in some way, your employer may not share my recognition. When you find one of those leadership learning opportunities, remind your supervisor that as a grants professional, you’re managing projects up and across your organization, and often into your community. When you’re a more effective leader, your organization becomes more effective, too.
March 15 is IGPW Chapter Day! Check with your Grant Professionals Association Chapter to learn more about activities close to you. If you’re in DC, join us at McCormick & Schmick’s on K Street tonight at 5:00 p.m. for a networking happy hour with the board.