Ten years ago, when I was focused on business rather than philanthropy, it occurred to me that business leadership requires a balance between a warm heart, a cool head and a hard nose. To test this concept, I interviewed three New Zealand business leaders – Hubbard Cereal’s founder Dick Hubbard, then Telecom NZ CE Theresa Gattung and a person I particularly admire, Warehouse Founder and philanthropist Sir Stephen Tindall. All three liked the concept, and here is the resulting article as published in the NZ Management magazine in February 2004:
Fast forward to the 2013 Philanthropy New Zealand conference, and the concept comes up again in Sir Stephen Tindall’s keynote address – with the sensible addition of patience (the mention is almost at the end of the address in slide 12 and at minute 12.15). As he also claims in the original article, the concept of balance between a warm heart, a cool head and a hard nose applies to philanthropy as well as business. And who can argue? One of the things I love about grant-making is that it requires engagement from both the head and the heart. And, given that philanthropy can be considered an investment in social change – and also that demand usually exceeds supply, there is a place for a hard nosed approach too.
However there is perhaps some difference in emphasis. If in doubt in business, we probably err on the side of the hard nose and favour the financially responsible approach. In philanthropy, we probably err on the side of generosity, and let the heart win out. Or so I hope.