Friday, March 2, 2012

Overheard: March 2

The pleasure (and pain) of taking a week off from favorite links: so much share-worthy goodness from which to pick.

Nonprofit boards: Boot camp for corporate executives (Alice Korngold)

Choosing which should lead this week's offering was not a difficult choice, though. The headline suggests a corporate audience focus; but the insights that Alice shares about the work, the leadership opportunities and the learning potential surrounding nonprofit boards will appeal and inform every reader of this terrific post. I'm doubly glad to find discussion about board learning and the need to seek the best fit between prospect and organization in what is destined to be another Korngold classic.

Steps toward board leadership (Sarah Mackey)

Aside from the fact it represents a nice overview of the board's leadership role, this post by Sarah provides another important service: reminding us that our next great recruits may be closer to us than we realize. New connections, and the ideas they bring, are good in nonprofit governance. But so is recognizing those who are already bonded to your mission and already familiar with your work. Looking inward, and providing opportunities to deepen commitment to you via board service, can be a good thing for everyone. We benefit from having new blood and strong commitment at the boardroom table.

Simple questions (Laura Otten)

Simple. But oh, so profound. Laura offers a few questions to guide board, staff and even donor reflection on critical topics related to culture, values and accountability. They're the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves regularly but are often "too busy" to ponder.

Is your nonprofit board socializing enough? (Marc Pitman)

How well do you know your fellow board members? We don't need to be besties to govern. I'm not sure we technically even need to like each other. But finding common ground, seeing each other as three-dimensional human beings can help pave the way for more collegial collaboration and leadership. Marc both encourages us to find the time to build those ties and offers non-cheesy suggestions to make the process easier.

Innovation-driven leadership (Audrey Smith and Ellie Hall)

 I'm drawing from my trainer roots and resources for this one. It comes from this month's T+D (Training and Development) magazine. The application to nonprofit boards should be obvious, even though it's not the article's specific context. (Yes, nonprofit boards need to be innovative. Not innovation for innovation's sake, but in the spirit of openness in understanding, shaping and advancing our mission and vision.) Which of the most common obstacles described by the authors sound the most familiar to you? How can you help your board to overcome - or, better yet, avoid - making these mistakes?

Awake the sleeping dog (board) (Kevin Monroe)

It's hard to believe boards don't already know their job isn't to tippy-toe through service to avoid rocking the boat. But I've seen (and served on) the kinds of boards that Kevin warns against in this post. Our job is to step up, speak out, anticipate, and act. Doing so will help prevent the kind of perilous apathy described here (and reduce the chance of being caught off guard by a devastating crisis we were too lazy to see), but will lead us toward our fuller potential as boards.

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