Monday, December 30, 2013

Generative leadership: A governance agenda

 (Photo purchased from Bigstock Photo)

What do nonprofit boards require to make an impact in their organizations and their communities? 

What do nonprofit board members need, not only to fulfill the minimum expectations set for them, but to reach their full leadership potential?

What conversations do we need to have to transform nonprofit governance for the kind of leadership that we all need?

While I pretty much live and breathe these questions, 2014 feels like the year when I'm ready to commit to moving the conversation forward - beginning with this blog. Pulling together the questions and the sources where I feel we most likely will find the answers, I can't help bringing it down to two key ideas:

Setting a Nonprofit Governance Agenda
Focused on building Generative Leadership

I'm committing to this theme - "Nonprofit Governance Agenda: Generative Leadership" - in the coming year. Boards deserve environments and opportunities to govern expansively and creatively (generative). They also need opportunities to make the positive impact that their organizations and communities expect (leadership). 

I envision six components to that agenda:

  1. Chait, Ryan and Taylor's Governance as Leadership (GAL) framework. I continue to believe in the transformative power of this revolutionary board model, built around three governance modes (fiduciary, strategic and generative).
  2. Board leadership, especially the critical responsibilities assigned to board presidents/chairpersons. If we could only focus on one role to transform what happens in the boardroom, this would be it. Setting a generative agenda, literally and otherwise, begins here.
  3. Advocacy and community leadership as core governance responsibilities. Boards provide our most direct connections to our communities and myriad, credible opportunities to extend our mission message to new audiences. Boards that embrace that role have the power to transform.
  4. Centered in GAL's fiduciary mode, accountability includes - but is far more than - attention to budget and financial statements. It also addresses issues of transparency with, and accountability to, all of a nonprofit's stakeholders.
  5. I'll continue to write about boardroom dynamics/culture, because people will continue to conflict in interactions and otherwise fail to meet expectations. As is my bias, I'll try to discuss these issues from a "what's possible when boards reach their full potential" perspective, rather than "all the ways board members fail us." 
  6. Finally, because I continue to believe in that full potential - and the transformative power of harnessing it - I'll spend a lot of time and space in 2014 promoting generative boards: advocating for creativity, learning and curiosity as essential member qualities.
These six benchmarks will serve as my guides for the year, as I continue to advocate for the great potential that engaged nonprofit governance represents for those we serve. Join me, in 2014, in exploring each one as we create a more generative space for true community leadership.

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