“A good board is a victory, not a gift.” –Cyril O. Houle
As many of you know, I have taught at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service for almost 20 years. Without a doubt, I love teaching. Every once in a while, it is nice to be the student not the teacher. Recently I attended a three-day workshop on nonprofit governance at BoardSource in Washington. What I learned certainly validated our experience working with nonprofit boards.
So, what do kickass boards have in common? They:
- Foster an intentional culture of inquiry. Strong boards value the input of all members and respect different viewpoints. They are not looking for people to rubber stamp decisions. They are looking for smart people who love the mission and are willing to ask tough questions and make thoughtful decisions.
- Recruit board members carefully and engage them thoughtfully. Kickass boards consist of capable, diverse, and enthusiastic people with the right mix of skills, experiences, and backgrounds. Great boards are always looking for quality members. Recruitment is a year-round process of assessing board needs, identifying, and cultivating prospects, and bringing strong candidates onboard thoughtfully. They spend time engaging members through regular education and opportunities to get to know each other socially. Here is a tricky one – strong boards also deal with non-performing board members honestly and thoughtfully.
- Measure performance. Strong boards measure their own performance through meaningful self-assessments. They also evaluate the CEO annually based on clear and measurable goals.
- Focus on the important stuff. Unproductive boards spend most of their meeting time on mundane issues such financial reports, program updates, and the like. Little time is actually spent in thoughtful conversation about strategic issues. This is a missed opportunity to actually govern.
Let us know how we can help you build your kickass board! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and have a conversation with us anytime.