An Executive Director Search that Went Wrong

This post is my fourth in a series about hiring a new CEO or Executive Director. The first post talks about a successful process. The second post addresses how the outgoing ED should be involved. The third post talks about the need for diversity on the search committee to avoid unexpected bias. In this post, the board member reflects on racial and gender bias and a flawed process where a close decision was rushed without examining objections to the candidate. Strategies for Getting the Right Person for Your Organization By a Dedicated Board Member, Somewhere in USA These events happened… Read more

Unexpected Bias Reveals Need for Diversity

This post is the third in a series about hiring a new CEO or Executive Director. The first post is the story about an effective search that resulted in a great CEO. The second post included three stories which explored how the outgoing Executive Director might be (or not be) involved in the search process. This post tells a story about a new President of a community college – a minority, immigrant woman — who faced challenges after being hired. The board chair sadly recognized that race and gender bias were a big issue. He acknowledged that had he and… Read more

Define Roles and Engage Board Members

I was told about a board where the ED worked very hard for months on a strategic planning document. The ED worked with staff and got input from community partners. Board members were not part of the process. When the ED brought the final plan to the board, they tore it apart. I share this story often. People join boards because they are passionate about the mission and want to add value to the organization. Organizations spend a lot of effort identifying board members with great skills such as finance, communications, marketing, and fund raising. And then there is this… Read more

Start Executive Sessions and Board Training Before You Need Them. Illustration by Janet Levinger.

Start Executive Sessions and Board Training Before You Need Them

This blog touches on two important topics: executive sessions and board confidentiality. When I have chaired boards, I instituted executive sessions at every board meeting. Often the executive session is at the end of the meeting and gets cut short or cut completely. If this happens occasionally, that’s okay. But prioritize leaving enough time for thoughtful conversation at most board meetings. I structure executive sessions in two parts: The first part includes the CEO but not the rest of the staff. During this part, the CEO can communicate about staffing, financials, legal issues, plans not ready to be announced, or… Read more

Big Red Flag: You Don’t Have to Do Anything

In my first blog, I wrote about a great trusting relationship between a board chair and ED that allowed a nonprofit to transform itself and have much greater impact. My second post talked about the impact of strained relationships between board leadership and the rest of the board. In this post, I describe an organization that found itself at great risk because no one was paying attention. But by implementing some processes and hiring consultants, the board chair was able to get back on track and start the fun part of being on a board – strategy. How One Board… Read more