Please pardon the departure from my usual "governance toolbox" format, but this is far from a "usual" week for me. This week, I launched an initiative that I hope many here will find of value: an online course on the learning.ly platform that introduces new nonprofit board chairs to the responsibilities they have accepted.
"Engaging Board Leadership: A New Chair's Guide to Facilitating Effective Nonprofit Governance" is a video-driven, self-directed learning experience designed to provide two things:
- A broad overview of what it means to lead a nonprofit board and
- A chance to reflect, via guided questions, on what that leadership will look like to the student and his/her board.
There is a bonus for those who complete the course: access to a site containing resources referenced in the class as well as others related to the topics covered. The site also includes a discussion forum area - the chance to interact with, and learn from, others experiencing the same highs and lows of service.
The 104-minute course, broken into several brief lessons, covers the following topics:
- Understanding a broader conception of nonprofit governance
- Defining your desired leadership impact
- Designing and facilitating effective board meetings
- Building board and board member accountability
- Valuing and supporting governance-focused committees
- Establishing an effective partnership with your CEO and
- Promoting board learning and reflection
Multiple motivations led to this particular course and this specific setting. I'll mention two here. One, I saw ample anecdotal evidence in the national board chairs survey (that, hallelujah, may actually go public on Monday) of learning needs that were not being met and respondents' expressed willingness to take steps to meet those needs if they had opportunities. Reason two is accessibility. The learning.ly platform makes access easy (one can participate from literally everywhere) and affordable. It is a viable first step for all of those survey respondents who indicated they wanted information but didn't seem to know where to find it.
I am grateful that learning.ly (and my new friend, Greg, who guided me through the course development process) provides this space and support for self-paced, self-directed adult learning. I appreciate the international audience that learning.ly - an initiative of The Economist Group - provides. I am glad to have a chance to bring to life this one important component of the development and peer support needs of our boards' current and future leaders. For me, it is an important first step toward providing a full basket of learning and support services for those who serve in this critical position.
I hope that you, and your board chairs, will find value in what this course offers. If you do find that value, you also will be willing to share your thoughts in a review.