Wed, Oct 13, 2021 at 1:36PM

Does your board work with a spirit of collaboration?

Is your nonprofit benefiting from a collaborative board?

When boards take a collaborative team approach, they far exceed the results they would otherwise achieve.

The benefits of collaboration among board members are practically unlimited for organizations seeking answers to challenges or ways to take advantage of new opportunities and initiatives.

An atmosphere of collaboration stimulates supportive participation and leverages individual strengths. It also unleashes problem solving creativity.

“Nonprofits must collaborate or evaporate.” This is a trademark saying of my friend and former longtime United Way executive Ray Salazar. Ray is quick to point out he didn’t coin the expression but adopted it as a guiding belief. That advice can be applied to boards as well.

Despite the recognized benefits, putting Ray’s words into practice can be easier said than done. For instance, within a group of individuals, successfully developing a culture of collaboration requires the understanding of what makes a cooperative effort work. And as with any good relationship, achieving positive results demands that the parties are fully committed to the process, which, at times, can be difficult.

Sometimes, geographic separation creates a physical obstacle between members of a board. Another relationship-building challenge is when boards meet infrequently and thus reducing personal connection opportunities.

Too often board meetings actually discourage collaboration because their structure doesn't encourage active participation by board members and don't provide any time for individual interaction.

Now we are in a time when many boards are meeting virtually and extra effort is needed to maintain collaboration connections.

A successful culture of collaboration is built on trust so it's critical to remove roadblocks that stand in the way of developing all-important relationships that trust requires.

Two excellent books I've read on collaboration are, Creativity, INC. by Ed Catmull (who is president and co-founder of Pixar) and The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. Both of these resources share how-to techniques for building collaborative cultures.

How do you encourage a culture of collaboration among your board members?

 


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