Don’t Fall for the Volunteer Board vs Staff Myth

Recently, I trained new volunteer board members for one of my clients. During our time together, I once again found that one very talented new board member had succumbed to a common myth. This person is a gifted strategic planner and wanted very much to get involved in developing 3-5 year operational plans for this particular nonprofit organization. Unfortunately, he has just become a member of t...
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Board Responsibilities and Who They Protect

Roles of boards and staff | Aligned Influence
I was training a new set of board members for a client recently and the question that I always hope will get asked came up. One of the trainees said, “I think we really need to stand up for our executive director and take some of the heat off of them.” These are words that will warm the heart of any executive director. Why I like this particular question is that it reveals the confusion that membe...
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Executive Director vs Board of Directors. Who’s Leading?

This has become my favorite question for nonprofits and municipalities. Who leads your organization, your board of directors or your executive director and their team? Most people initially look at me as if I have asked them a riddle and then most say, “Well, I think we both do.” My follow-up is, “You’re probably right. How is it working for both of you to lead the organization?” They immediately ...
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Effective Organizational Development Consulting

As an organizational development consultant, I am often in the role of a coach. Earlier this week, I was invited to observe one of my client’s board meetings and give them some feedback. This particular organization has been a client for several years. As you can imagine, I have many hours invested in coaching their board members, their staff, and in particular their chairperson of the board and t...
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The Cost of Neglecting Board Development

The cost of not investing is a question most often heard when someone is making choices about their next stock purchase. Recently, however, I was confronted with this question when a potential client was pondering the “cost,” both in dollars and in time, of investing in the organization’s board development, especially as it pertains to the relationship between the board of directors and the execut...
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Is Your Nonprofit’s Board of Directors Not Ready to Govern?

Yesterday, I was once again confronted with a question that I often ponder: are there some nonprofit boards of directors that are not yet ready to govern and that simply have to function as working boards? The idea comes from trying to apply John Carver’s concepts that today are commonly referred to as International Policy Governance to a very young organization (sometimes defined as having very f...
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Financial Oversight is a Board Responsibility

Very bright accounting and finance professionals often find themselves scratching their head after their first experience serving on a board of directors.  At almost every board of directors meeting financial reports, Income/Expense and Balance Sheets are presented. Without any further training, the accounting or finance professional begins to use the reports as they would on a daily basis to...
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Governance Boards Align Leadership

If you have been a member of a board of directors in the last 40 years, you have most likely been exposed to the question, “Are you a governance Board?”  This question is really asking whether or not your board has moved beyond trying to operate the organization to better understanding its role to oversee or govern the organization. It is really seeking to determine if you and your boar...
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Why Invest in Governance Development?

Why invest in governance development? The very question itself implies that some are questioning the return on investment of investing in their board of directors and governance. It might also imply that the board of directors only exists because the law requires it. What if the board of directors was seen as an important element of the entire organization; that they do play a legal compliance rol...
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Is governance a legal issue or an organizational development issue?

Is governance a legal issue or an organizational development issue? Your answer to this question probably depends on your position in the organization. If you are the lead counsel for an organization, you probably see it as a legal issue. If you are the executive director or the chairperson of a board of directors, you might be more likely to see it as an organizational development issue. The rea...
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