Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Overheard: December 21

Well, the one good thing about living through a tough fall may be the fact that I have plenty of time to accumulate a wealth of fantastic resources between posts.

Leading - now and always (Erika Andersen)

I ask. Cousin Erika delivers. In my "leadership edition" favorite links post, I introduced you to the leadership model that Erika has developed and wished for a public version of the qualities that form the foundation. Today, I share a post that describes those essential qualities of a leader that others will follow - and make an impact in our communities and the nonprofit sector.

What makes nonprofits special? (Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies)

Whether it's in the context of our community outreach, our public policy work, or simply in routine boardroom deliberation, understanding the ultimate value that our sector brings to our society is important. This recent work, by the JHCCSS team, does a fantastic job of articulating common sector values and beginning the case for strengthening its collective voice.

Between minds - an ongoing taxonomy of team dynamics (

The more I observe and learn about boards, the more convinced I am that we need to be spending far more time attending to the interpersonal 'stuff' that can make or break quality interaction and teamwork. When this infographic appeared in my RSS feed, I immediately thought of how it might spark a conversation about the human tendencies each of us have and how those tendencies display themselves in the boardroom. Do we make the most of those "thought leader" qualities? Do we channel the "do leader" energy in ways that are productive and pointed in the direction the board wants to head?

Meetings: What's your biggest problem with meetings? (Simply Business)

Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).

Speaking of interpersonal "stuff" getting in the way... I simply had to share this interactive tool for thinking about some of the bigger challenges to productive meetings. I've seen and experienced them all. You have, too. Click on the image to access a great, interactive resource for addressing those issues.

5 nonprofit trends to watch in 2013 (Nell Edgington)

Whether or not Nell is exactly on the mark on all five of these predictions, for me the point is to remind boards that the future should be their primary focus. In that spirit, take Nell's list. Discuss it. Explore what each of her trends might mean for your organization. Talk about issues already represented in your work and interactions. Anticipate what could arise and how you might be proactive in meeting those opportunities where they can best serve your mission and your stakeholders.

Brainstorming vs. braincalming (Mitch Ditkoff)

Regular readers know my bias toward reflective practice in board work. That's immediately where my brain went when I read this post. In our efforts to make the most of limited board volunteer time, we often err on the side of cramming as much into those minutes as possible - and as much information into their brains as possible. The specific call here is to rethink the all-too-popular brainstorming practice (and I absolutely plan to add this to my facilitation toolbox), but I think it also offers us an alternative way of thinking about how we structure board discussions. Do we give members the information needed for quality deliberations enough in advance to facilitate thoughtful consideration and research before the meeting? In the meetings themselves, do we leave enough open space for listening? Do we give each important decision enough time to incubate before a vote is cast? Do we give board members the breathing room to listen not only to each other but to their own hearts and heads?

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