Personal Strategy = Bureaucrat A role framework

Bureaucrat: High role-awareness and low self- awareness lead.

Case in point: A relatively new grantmaker at a community foundation finds her first site visits “tricky” on two counts. Even her mildest pleasantries seem to inflate grantseekers’ expectations. And she worries that her hosts have over prepared, making it difficult to see beyond the well-rehearsed presentation to the real work of the organization. In response, she develops a guarded approach to site visits, monitoring her own reactions and interactions carefully to ensure that her body language or comments can’t be misinterpreted and by giving the grantee a suggested agenda and time limits.

Analysis: This grantmaker’s site visit etiquette delivers some benefits of role-awareness: she focuses on and makes herself accountable for observing programs, not socializing with grantseekers. And sticking to task as she does, her site visits are no doubt efficient. But by failing to mobilize her personal warmth, humor, and spontaneous curiosity, she foregoes the opportunity for productive collaboration. Her guarded demeanor probably limits her ability to engage grantseekers in candid, productive give-and-take. Ironically, she may end up learning less — exactly the result she wanted to avoid by choosing her role-focused strategy in the first place. A strategy more firmly rooted in a dual awareness of self and role could make her site visits far more productive.


About the author(s)

Senior Partner
The Giving Practice