Advice for New Board Chair

Not long ago, a friend invited me to coffee – she had recently been elected to be Board Chair for a nonprofit. It was her first time as a Board Chair although she had been on this board for several years and had also served on other boards. She asked me if I had any advice for a new Chair. Here is what I shared: Don’t Act Alone Remember that while you can influence many things as Board Chair, you don’t have more power than anyone else on the board. You have one vote. Every board member has one vote.… Read more

A Good Leader Knows When It Is Time to Step Down

Sometimes being a good leader means knowing when it is time to step down and let others lead. I have been thinking about this a lot – several long-term CEOs that I know have wisely made this decision, knowing it is best for the organization even if it is personally difficult for them. I applaud their leadership. And I personally have made this decision several times – stepping down as board chair or going off a board altogether. I have stayed close to these organizations, donating to them, acting as an ambassador, often privately consulting with new board chairs or… Read more

Should You Have Agendas for Board Meetings?

In this post, I share how a diverse board handles some different cultural norms around agendas and meetings. It’s a good lesson about being transparent and inclusive. How One Board Changed the Way Agendas Were Developed and Meetings Were Run Told by a Board Chair somewhere in the US Many years ago, I was board chair of a small nonprofit that had a very diverse board. At one meeting, a board member suggested that we not use agendas. He said that there were cultures where following a strict agenda was uncomfortable and — to respect those individuals — we should… Read more

Pick Up the Phone

In a similar theme to my last post where a nonprofit CEO discusses the stresses of being remote, in this story, a nonprofit board chair shares how she discovered that the best way to solve issues between people is to pick up the phone, schedule a zoom call, or meet in person to talk things through. She reflects that we have gotten out of the habit of interacting in real time, instead relying on email which can be easily misinterpreted. She also notes that going forward it is important to create times for casual personal interactions. We Need to Stay… Read more

Dealing with Remote Environments

A CEO described the stress on individuals and organizations of being remote.  They noted that it led to lack of trust, rumors getting out of control, and very transactional relationships. They saw how people would reach out only if there was a reason to. The informal interactions in the office or over dinner – the ones that build empathy, connection, and trust —  are missing. Since many companies will continue to be remote or hybrid, addressing these issues is important. COVID Stress Makes Staff Feel Overwhelmed and Inadequate As told by a nonprofit CEO somewhere in the US I am… Read more