Friday, May 24, 2013

Overheard: May 24

A compelling post by a good friend opens this week's list of favorite links.

All I Ask (Nancy Iannone)

How many great members, how many sources of wisdom and exactly the expertise you've needed, has your board overlooked over the years? Have you ever been that quiet member who never found his/her niche and the opportunity to lead? Nancy's letter resonated, first, because I've been that under-valued member. But it also resonated because I've undoubtedly been guilty of being on the other side: of failing to recognize an introverted member's commitment and gifts.  Nancy reminds us that we're all responsible for engaging and building our collective leadership capacity - brought individually by all of our members.

The role of the board and executive staff: A discussion worksheet (PDF) (David Renz)

Sometimes, we all could use a little help framing potentially tough conversations. Dave offers just that in this downloadable document designed to help us discuss a perennially tricky topic: who's responsible for what on the nonprofit leadership team.  This worksheet offers a starting point for clarifying responsibilities - and for reinforcing what's appropriate board involvement and what is not.

The leader as facilitator: Some tips for great meetings (Marilyn Cavicchia)

The ability to not just follow the agenda but facilitate productive interactions and manage conflict separates okay board chairs from great board chairs. Do you - and your board leader - understand what makes that difference? Cavicchia shares a useful set of tips, some that may seem more obvious than others.

The best and worst of board chairs (Yvonne Harrison and Vic Murray)

Speaking of board chairs... This classic (2007) Nonprofit Quarterly article describes Harrison and Murray's seminal research on factors that distinguish exceptional board leaders from less capable chairs. It's not often that research conducted by the academic community reaches those who might actually use it. This particular research is not only fascinating, it has the potential to transform what takes place in our nonprofit boardrooms.

Why teams fight and what to do about it (Dan Rockwell)

I'll close this week with a "group process" title. What qualifies as "nice" fighting? What marks "naughty" fighting? Rockwell's post helps to sort common sources of both types. My personal favorite: "Naughty fighting focuses on people. Nice fighting focuses on issues." Being able to make that distinction - and avoid wasting time on the former - is the difference between wallowing and fulfilling our mission.

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