Friday, May 6, 2011

Overheard: May 6

Let's start this week's "overheard" sharing with a post that is almost guaranteed to spark some reaction, whatever side of the dynamic you may find yourself.

Marginalizing board members (Laura Otten)

If you're a consultant to nonprofit boards, the subject of this post probably will be quite familiar - and a source of some frustration. It's a tough situation to be in, and to facilitate out of effectively. If you're a board member, you may or may not recognize the pattern that Laura describes. If you're an executive director, you may be trying to recall any personal examples that fit the scenario. (You may even recognize that this is exactly what you do, and you know why you do it.) Once our initial reactions to Laura calling us out have passed, I hope for at least two productive responses from our boards. One, recognize communication patterns that resemble this and work together to not point fingers but find a productive way to change them. Two, use it as a  jumping-off point - even briefly - for reaffirming the leadership role that the board plays and the importance of that body stepping up and embracing it.

Checklist for a top-level board governance committee (Gail Perry)

We don't talk enough about the value of governance (aka board development) committees. In an environment that often feels like one endless committee meeting, adding another group to the mix will not be particularly palatable to many members. But this is one worth exploring and incorporating into your board mix. A successful governance committee actually adds capacity to handle board work, in ways that are both effective and meaningful to members. Gail's "checklist" offers an accessible way to explore the potential of this body.

Boardroom diversity means better business (Lucy Marcus)

Regular readers of this blog know I'm one of Lucy's biggest fans. She has stretched my conceptions of governance and expanded my understanding of corporate governance exponentially. One of her particular areas of expertise is board diversity, a challenge in any governance setting. Her latest post is written from a largely corporate perspective, but the message and the specifics shared here will help any nonprofit board think more deeply about the ways in which it addresses this important recruitment and engagement topic.

Highlights of the BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index 2010 (Gene Tagaki)

Obviously, every board member would benefit from reading the entire BoardSource report. But in the meantime - or in lieu of that actually happening - Gene has offered a great summary of several of the key findings from that research.

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