Friday, May 15, 2015

Governance toolbox: The "Mooooo" edition

This week's title inspired by the first link, obviously: boards wearing paths to the tried and true (if not always effective) habits of board work, unless leaders help them discover the "new gates" that take them somewhere better. 

Cows and new gates -- The imagery of Dan's opening paragraphs on this one was so vivid - and so familiar - that I knew it had to be shared this week. The bottom line message for board leaders: go first. Even among a group of recognized community leaders, there is a need for someone go "go first:" to model the kind of attitudes and behaviors that will help them reach their full potential for the greater good. I can't improve on the simple, convicting descriptions that Dan offers in this post, so I'll simply encourage you to read it - and share it with your favorite board leader. How will they - you - lead your board to its "new gate?"

8 attributes of an outstanding board chair -- While we're on the topic of board leadership, this excellent Bloomerang post by Jay Love captures perfectly eight essential capacities that he says all boards should require of their chairpersons. Particularly noteworthy - because it simply isn't a given in many conceptualizations of board leadership - is the inclusion of a relationship management role (number five).  It's an ambitious list, one that may include a big stretch - or three - for the typical candidate. But it's an accurate representation of the kind of commitment and skill that we need in our leaders if we are to reach our full governance potential.

Six smart moves great board chairs make -- Ellis Carter, one of my favorite nonprofit-focused legal minds, offers her own list of musts for board chairs. Her "smart moves" complement Love's list in interesting ways. One that caught my eye - again, not because it's typically on most list-makers' radars - is number five: make board service fun. As with Love's number five, it's not necessarily an official task of governance, but its presence certainly makes governance fulfilling for the volunteers doing the work. Governance is so much more than checking tasks off a list. (Hmmm. Expect a post on that topic very soon.)

Never tell eagles to stop soaring --
How can so many smart people become such a middling mess when we bring them together? There's a little piece of me that thinks part of the answer can be found in this brief Leadership Freak post. Aside from the general advice offered to group leaders, there is great value in the reflection questions posed at the end. I can see these being part of an effective individual-level board self-assessment process.

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