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

Potential Pitfalls: Role of Outgoing CEO in Hiring Replacement

In my last post, I started a series on the most important job for a nonprofit board: hiring an Executive Director or CEO. I shared a story about a rigorous search process that resulted in a great CEO for the organization. Several years later, board members were still happy with their choice and the individual I interviewed outlined what was done well – and some changes that could be made in the future. In this second part of the series, I recount three stories – from one individual – which examine if and how an outgoing CEO should be involved… 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

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