Make Board Leadership Matter

Nonprofits wanting improved results from their boards should commit to making board leadership matter.

Complaints about board performance and lack of engagement are frequent topics of discussion in the nonprofit sector. I believe it’s time for less talk and more action.

In addition to my own research, several well-respected studies (BoardSource’s Leading With Intent, the Stanford Survey on Leadership and Management in the Nonprofit Sector, and Voices of Board Chairs by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management), have examined board leadership and identified areas where improvement is needed.

Shortcomings in the knowledge of roles and responsibilities, a lack of previous experience, inadequate preparation, and essential skills missing for leadership roles show there is much work to be done in the area of board development.

Rather than blame the board member, how about fixing the process that puts ill-prepared individuals in leadership positions?

The critical assessments in these surveys are based on performance evaluation of current and past board members. So this means individuals are being selected for board positions with less than satisfactory qualifications. Why were they chosen in the first place?

Nonprofits keep making the same recruiting mistakes, not developing leaders, not providing proper orientation and training, and predictably keep getting the same result–boards that don’t meet expectations.

If you’re tired of being frustrated by non-performing board members, make board development the priority it deserves.

Making board leadership matter requires taking necessary action to ensure you have the best possible board candidates, providing needed training so they will know what they need to know, and making sure future leaders get prerequisite experience so they will be prepared to lead.

How does your organization make sure you have the right board members? How do you prepare individuals for future leadership roles? Share your comments below!

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