Leading with Honesty, Humility, and Joy


“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
Rabindranath Tagore


At Aurora, we work hard to lead with honesty, humility, and joy. Of our three core values, we believe this one offers the most insight to who we strive to be in and through our work. We like it because it lets us be us. It reflects our vision for ourselves as leaders and our vision for how we interact with other nonprofit professionals.

Sarah and Al have worked together in and for the nonprofit sector for years, first with Science Museum of Minnesota and now with Aurora.  About a year ago, we created Aurora’s three core values in a process that felt more like reaffirming than redefining. Looking back, it’s clear these values have been embedded in our approach to consulting for some time now. We’re proud of the outcome: Our core values reflect our vision of ourselves and the way we serve our clients. And, we are energized when we find clients with similar values. 


Honesty and Humility

This core value is essential to facilitative leadership, a practice for bringing out leadership qualities in everyone. In our working sessions, facilitative leadership means we are purposeful in creating an environment where all participants can be comfortable engaging. Comfort comes from trust and we know trust can’t exist unless honesty and humility are practiced by everyone in the room, including us. How does this look? We try to be fully transparent about our thoughts, the process and plan for our work, and where our expertise begins and ends. We recognize that our clients know the most about their work, and we try to create space for them to discuss, plan, and reflect without getting in their way.



When you work on seemingly intractable problems, as our clients do, how do you persist in your work? This is where joy comes in. We take joy in the incredible people we meet through our work. We believe that the joy we find in strong relationships with each other is a source of grit and positive momentum. We try to slow down and take time to appreciate each other as people. We infuse fun and humor whenever we can.

As we write about joy, a specific client comes to mind. There are just three people on staff in this organization, so they all do anything and everything to push their organization forward. Yet, they take time to give praise and say thank you. It’s easy to see that they have genuine respect for and fun with each other. The joy they bring into their work is present in every conversation.


At Aurora, our aim to lead with honesty, humility, and joy fits well for another reason, too: these qualities are essential to working collaboratively, which is our third core value. As we lead, we recognize and value our clients’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. They offer so much to their organizations and the nonprofit sector every day, and our own lives at work are richer for it.

Also read about our value of generosity

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