Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Board competency 9: Accept, share leadership responsibility

This is the ninth in a 10-part weekly series expanding upon the core nonprofit board competencies that I laid out in a recent post.

Core board competency 9: The willingness to engage as part of the leadership team.


On the surface, this competency seems pretty obvious. We need committed members who do not need to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to fulfill "their time" serving as a board officer. 

Indeed, it should be a privilege and an opportunity to extend our contribution to be asked to serve as a board officer (especially that of board president). As part of assuming those significant responsibilities, board officers deserve an environment where they are supported and acknowledged. They should feel that they have what they need to succeed, starting with active and engaged peers who share their commitment to effective governance. 

Board leaders (especially board presidents) shouldn't feel alone in their service. They also should feel that their extra level of commitment - and the less-than-glamorous tasks that come with their respective jobs - is valued and acknowledged.

But "leadership" is broader than officer titles and job descriptions. 

Board leadership includes chairing committees and task forces, where the focused work of mission advancement often takes place. Board leadership might also emerge as taking on responsibility for special projects, working solo or with others, and using our specific skills or knowledge to advance board or organizational priorities. 

Even more generally, we should recognize that nonprofit governance is leadership. Everything we do, every contribution we make, is (or should be) an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and move closer to our mission.

Does our board performance look like leadership? 

Are we making regular, valued contributions to the collective good and the mission we are called to advance?

Do we use our inherent credibility, as community leaders volunteering our time to a cause, to its full effect?

Do we step up when we see a need and we have the personal capacity to address it?

Do our actions and attitudes represent our full potential as leaders serving in a governing role?

We succeed as a group just as we fail as a group. Nonprofit governance is a collaborative process and responsibility. How are you leading? How are we leading?

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