Nonprofit Leadership Coaching on Boards Part One

Nonprofit leadership coaching on boards part one, allows you to think about the vision, effectiveness and working relationships of the board members of your organization. 

These men and women will determine and oversee the direction of the organization. Their role is often critical in small organizations.

It's simply not good enough to look for "warm bodies" to sit on a board. This tool will help you be the best board you can be.

1. The Board Has a Clearly Articulated Vision for the Organization


This is Practice 1 of 80

A Board must have a vision of where they want to go. Period. Otherwise they are just maintaining 'what is'.

  • Do you exist just to maintain everything exactly the way it is today or is there something more or larger that draws you forward?

If your concept of the future is to maintain 'what is' that may be ok. On the other hand it also could mean you are content not to grow in any direction at all.

Every Board member ought to be in agreement with a clear, simple statement of what you collectively feel you exist to accomplish.

  • Is that statement of direction sufficiently attractive to each Board member? Senior staff?
  • Does it serve to inspire and draw you forward or is it a restatement of well known and general ideals?

Why This Practice is Important

A vision inspires what is possible.

The Key Concept, Attitude or Action That Drives This Practice


The board carries and articulates this important statement of direction.

An Expansive Thought

Yesterday's ideals of what can be may not carry you into the future - they have already been reached.

An Action Point

Fresh clarity generates fresh ideas, approaches and momentum.

2. An Operational Master Plan is in Place to Achieve  the Vision


This is Practice 2 of 80

No vision – no master plan. No plan – no action or at least ineffective action. And no action – no results. No results – no benefit delivered.

Take the time to plan.

The time spent developing a key plan that stretches out some distance in the future will pay off handsomely.

Master plans need to be flexible to respond to new developments that may open up. Taking the time needed to develop and update a good plan will assist in decision making at every meeting for years to come.

  • Do you have a comprehensive plan?
  • What would it take for you to develop a 5, 10 or 20 year plan? Is such a length reasonable? Practical? What benefit would there be to various lengths of strategic plans?
  • Discuss any philosophical reasons you may have difficulty with in doing this. How will you make your plan responsive to new directions, yet fixed enough to serve as the major tool for future development?

Why This Practice is Important

If a vision answers to 'what', a comprehensive plan answers to 'how'.

The Key Concept, Attitude or Action That Drives This Practice


A good plan is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound -SMART

An Expansive Thought

A master plan doesn't bind, it allows God to guide.

An Action Point

A multi-year plan will stretch both thinking and possibilities.

3. Board Members are Competent to Work Effectively on a Board


This is Practice 3 of 80

Being a competent Board member generally doesn’t just happen. It is learned.

If there is no training in place, start. If you have started, make it even better.

The Board can make or break the organization by their pattern of attitudes and actions. Develop knowledge, skills and attitudes, both task oriented and people oriented.

  • What training are you aware of that would assist people to be more effective and competent Board members?
  • What experience lies within your Board that could be tapped by way of a presentation or training for other members?
  • What standards do you have for the addition of new Board members?
  • Is there a training process for those who might consider being Board members?

This would allow you a pool of dedicated, more highly trained people.

Why This Practice is Important

Good board members are intentional about developing skills.

The Key Concept, Attitude or Action That Drives This Practice


Board specific orientation is a must for the new board member.

An Expansive Thought

Effective boards are intentional about who they bring to the board.

An Action Point

Tapping the skills, good attitudes, knowledge and assets of the individual strengthens the team.

4. Board Members Regularly Assess Their Effectiveness


This is Practice 4 of 80

Just as regular reviews assess effectiveness of the Executive Director or other senior staff, Board members should take a good look at their own personal presence and contribution to the purposes of the organization.

Many small organizations suffer because of Board members who should have left some time ago. It is only politeness that keeps them on under a thick veil of frustration. Is the passion for the work still there?

Develop a tool that will allow members to assess themselves and make appropriate decisions regarding their service on the Board.

  • How will you know if members are getting lukewarm, and what will you do about it?
  • Can a Board member leave without being judged in any way?
  • How does your Board rotate? Is it serving you well? If not, what can you do to address it?
  • Is your review non-threatening to members, engaging their best interest for the organization?

Why This Practice is Important

Assessing how well you are doing contributes to increasing effectiveness. The best people today are tired of aimless, unproductive and long meetings, hampered by unprepared colleagues.

The Key Concept, Attitude or Action That Drives This Practice


Knowing when the passion is decreasing and then making an exit is ok.

An Expansive Thought

What works well may be more important than what has always been done.

An Action Point

Find out what keeps members more knowledgeable, in touch and active.

To move from Nonprofit Leadership Coaching on Boards Part One
to the last four practices referring to boards, go to:
Nonprofit Leadership Coaching on Boards Part Two

To review other practices, return to Small Organization page and choose topic. 

What Will You Take Action on from Nonprofit Leadership Coaching on Boards Part One? 

You have gained insight from Nonprofit Leadership Coaching on Boards Part One. But with much more to work on, you'd like to connect with me to discuss working together. We can explore your situation and discuss what might be possible. 

To discuss leadership and executive coaching, contact me here.

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