Well-Intended Mess

In this post, I share a story about how a well-intended effort to work around a conflict of interest created an awkward and unsustainable situation. The perception of nepotism undermined the credibility of a new hire. How One Workaround Leads to Another Workaround This story is about a small, well-established private school. Over the years, we had several instances where relatives of staff or faculty started working there as well.  This included the son of the Head of the School who reported to his parent. The Head and his son were both lovely people, but they were tone deaf to… Read more

Check Your Ego and Prioritize the Organization

I love to share good stories. After my last post (about a founding ED who would not let go), a reader reached out to me to share a very different story. In this post, the founding CEO, the board chair, and the new CEO worked together to make a smooth and successful transition. What worked? Everyone emphasized their commitment to the organization, putting mission before ego. The founder pledged to support the new CEO. The board created a thoughtful, strategic process that prepared them and staff for the transition for the future. The new CEO and the founder developed a… Read more

Advice to Prospective Board Members

In my last post, I shared a story about a board member who did not look closely enough at financials and joined the board of an organization that was in trouble. They ended up closing down the organization which was heart breaking for many. This individual urged board members to “dig deep” into financial and legal issues. In today’s post, I share from two board members. Both provide a check list that they recommend using when deciding whether or not to join a board. These lists are also useful to current board members who want to ensure that they add… 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

Hiring a New CEO or Executive Director

Hiring a new CEO or Executive Director is one of the most important jobs – if not the most important job — for a board. You are hiring the person who represents the organization, sets its direction, and motivates its staff and stakeholders. As I interviewed board members around the country, the significance – and the difficulty – of making the right decision came up over and over. So, I am going to dedicate several posts to this topic. And I am going start with a story of a successful CEO search – one where several years down the road,… Read more