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

Dig Deep Before Joining a Board

I did not ask to look at all of the financials. I just took their word that they were okay.  The organization was a passion project for its founders. They were in a period of their lives where they were asking: do they stop doing the work or do they ramp it up? At the same time, the organization received a large grant from a big foundation that was interested in building their capacity. The organization decided they would accept the grant, build a team, and use this generous gift to develop a strategy to double down on the work… Read more

How Board Members Can Influence Decisions. Illustration by Janet Levinger.

Build Trust and Focus on Values

As a board member, it is important to understand your role versus the role of the staff and the executive director. Every board struggles to find the right balance. Boards have fiduciary responsibility; they are legally responsible for the organization. They determine the vision and mission of the organization, they select and manage the executive director or CEO, they make sure the organization has adequate resources, and they set key strategies and policies. Board members should not be making daily decisions about programs or communications. That said, an organization often asks an individual to join their board because they have… Read more

Lack of Transparency Erodes Trust. Illustration by Janet Levinger.

Lack of Transparency Erodes Trust

For my first blog, I shared a story about a board chair who stepped up to help the Executive Director (ED) in time of important and impactful change. The organization successfully survived the change because of the trusting relationship between the board chair and the ED and because the board deeply supported the ED, going far beyond what they thought would be expected. For my second blog, I am sharing two stories by the same individual who notes that when a board chair or executive committee become too powerful, trust erodes. This individual shares their ideas about trust, transparency, and… Read more