The Story of a Controlling CEO and a Weak Board

Organizations can have great CEOs and weak CEOs and manipulative CEOs. Organizations can have strong boards and weak boards. In today’s post, a former staff person describes an organization with possibly the worst combination — a controlling CEO and a weak board. The story also raises the question of intersectionality. Is it distracting for a woman’s organization to analyze data about women of color, women with disabilities, gay women, rural women, poor women? Does intersectionality diminish the focus on women? This staff person insists – and I agree – that if you don’t address intersectionality, if you don’t dig deeply… Read more

Board Chairs Should Keep Full Board Informed

Challenges arise in every organization and with every board. If you are the board chair, you have to decide what to bring to the full board. As chair, you don’t want to cause panic when a situation can be easily handled. But you also have to remember that the board chair does not have more power than the rest of the board and that the full board has fiduciary responsibility for the organization. Other board members cannot exercise this responsibility if they don’t know what is going on. Plus, we all work to bring great people onto a board. The… Read more

Getting Board Members to Do Things

Board members are volunteers. Organizations select them because they have specific skills or connections or because they represent groups whose input is valued by the organization. Some board members are donors, some are connectors, and some are doers. Many fit into more than one category. But what happens when board members say they want to be more involved but then don’t step forward when asked? In this story, one board chair shares her frustration with board members who never raise their hands. She suggests making assignments and taking care about who you ask to join a board. My advice to… Read more

Keep Funding and Over-Communicate During Transitions

I recently received a call from the Executive Director of an organization that I have supported since it was founded. I have been a consistent major donor and love the organization’s mission. The ED called to tell me he is leaving the organization. I asked him a bunch of questions – about why he was leaving and what he was going to do next. After I felt assured that he was not being pushed out and that there was not an issue with the organization, I wished him good luck and asked him to keep in touch. He then said,… Read more

The Journey to a Diverse Board

Every board I have served on has wanted to be more diverse – more diverse in many ways: by race and culture, by age and gender, by geography. Yet most boards don’t do a good job at achieving the diversity they strive for. In this post, one ED shares his journey to a truly diverse board. His primary lessons – take your time, build trust, listen, be humble. Diversity is important – having many voices at the table changes not only the conversation but also decisions made and actions taken. Creating a diverse board sends a powerful signal to staff,… Read more