Saturday, March 19, 2016

Question Week: Our leadership needs

"Do we have the leadership we need?"

When the time came to select the final entry of this Question Week series, I turned to Gayle Gifford for the perfect candidate. It comes from her excellent post, "15 questions nonprofit boards need to answer." While any of the other 14 possibilities posed there could have easily qualified for highlighting during the week, I chose this one as a perfect - if potentially challenging - big-picture close to this series.

It is notable that Gayle chose to categorize "Do we have the leadership we need?" under the "wise stewardship questions" category. To me, it's a reminder of the essential nature of that important role that risks getting lost in the board day-to-day shuffle.

As the capstone to this series, it offers a chance to step back and reflect on the capacities we have as a group - to affirm our existing leadership strengths - and to acknowledge where we have room for growth. No board is perfect. I can guarantee that.

What I envision in offering this closing question is an extended conversation, grounded in questions similar to those posed in the last week, with this one offering a collective gut-check. Do we really have what we need to lead this organization toward this vision and mission?

If the answer is largely "yes," I'd follow up with, "How do we know?" (Thursday's question can lay the groundwork for that part of the discussion.) If evidence is abundant, hurray. Use it to identify existing resources to guide you in the future and from which you can build for the next challenging chapter.

Perhaps the answer is "no" or "not to reach our full potential," that's even more important. If that is the case, your first step as a board is to acknowledge it, identify the gaps that exist between where you are now as a leadership body and where you need or want to be, and take the first step(s) toward changing your situation.

There are too many variables to guess where your room for growth may be. I'll instead leave you with Gayle's simple but profound question as the foundation for reaching your full leadership potential as a board.

Other links in this series: 

Sunday - Question Week: 100-percent vision success
Monday - Question Week: Without resource constraints
Tuesday - Question Week: Accountable to whom?
Wednesday - Question Week: No good answers
Thursday - Question Week: Our leadership exemplified
Friday - Question Week: Governance headline

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