Saturday, January 25, 2014

Agenda item: Grooming future board leaders

Agenda item 4: Begin grooming and exposing members to leadership opportunities early. 

How often do our boards lament a lack of members ready and willing to step up when the time comes to serve in a formal leadership position? How often have our boards suffered when those drafted (and sometimes coerced) to serve are unprepared to lead?

If we want board leaders who can move us closer to our mission, we need to prepare them for those roles from the moment they join. We need to find ways to offer board- and organization-specific opportunities to develop their leadership muscle.

How do we do that? Here are few quick ideas:

  • Offer rotating opportunities to chair board committees and task forces. Give these groups a chance to benefit from a fresh leadership perspective, and give other members new opportunities to learn from the leadership responsibility that accompanies the role.
  • Within those committees, ask different members to take a lead role in researching and directing specific projects.
  • Recruit willing public speakers from the board to prepare for specific public outreach roles (e.g., participating in community events and other opportunities to talk about your nonprofit and its mission).
  • Ask each member to identify an area of expertise that is germane to the board's work and offer to be a lead resource and peer educator in that area. Build in regular opportunities for individual members to share that expertise with the board.
  • Ask individual members to serve as liaisons to their professional and other community networks.
  • Where board representation is needed on projects elsewhere in the organization (e.g., special events planning), encourage members with applicable skills or experiences to take on the responsibility (and share updates regularly with their peers).
  • Ask individual members to help lead discussions around specific topics in board meetings, especially those that draw from their experiences or expertise .


Nancy Iannone said...

I particularly like the idea of asking board members what expertise they would like to share. I find that people view board leadership positions either with lust (usually a warning sign)or dread (also a warning sign).

People like to be asked to share what they know and are passionate about. What a great opportunity for board members to engage each other in learning and modeling.

Debra Beck, EdD said...

One of the reasons I like your response, Nancy, :) is that it reinforces that board members have their own, unique ways of contributing. Also important: the chance for them to identify for themselves and commit to enhancing the group's collective learning and capacity.