Board Development Issue Number 2 on our Top 10
The Top Ten Board Development Issues
That Impact Your Organization
The CEO and the Board Chair Must Connect!
“The best leader is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.”
— John Quincy Adams
Of all the issues that constitute a nonprofit organization the most important is the relationship between the CEO, the board chair and governing board. This connection, this partnership will determine the organization’s success and vitality. If this relationship is working well then the organization can truly focus on mission and vision. If this relationship is not working then the focus becomes: What’s wrong? How do we make it right? Where do we go to get the professional assistance we need? This distraction becomes the new reality.
To truly understand the underlying issues that bring clarity to this challenge, one must review the seven fundamental characteristics that define what makes it work:
- Collaboration and Communication
Working together and regular, ongoing communication is foundational for the relationship to be the best possible. What constitutes effective communication? Finding common ground will reveal what works best for the individuals establishing the communications strategy that will work best.
It is extremely difficult to work with and communicate with someone that you do not respect or believe possesses the character and integrity that is an absolute requirement to build a strong relationship. If character and respect are central to the relationship then everything else is possible.
Trust is truth – it is that simple, it is that complicated. Creating a climate and culture of trust must be intentional and acknowledged as an organizational priority. The ability to be trustworthy carries with it enormous importance.
What is all too often absent is a board chair who does not support the Head of School or CEO – especially when other board members are attempting to interfere with this leader’s ability to manage the organization. The current vernacular might describe this as the “herd mentality” or “piling on” becoming acceptable behavior – it is not! Knowing you have the support of the board chair brings confidence to do what needs to be done and provide the leadership necessary.
- Shared Vision
When the board chair and Head/CEO are “on the same page” with regard to the future of the organization, it suggests an organization that is thriving and meeting the needs articulated in the mission.
People who are positive, who see the world in an optimistic way, who recognize they are blessed and in a position to share that outlook with others, are in the best possible position to influence and inspire the organization is dynamic and meaningful ways.
The ability and opportunity to encourage, to inspire, to bring out the best in others is a character trait that is vital. Can you be at the same time strong and kind, bold and thoughtful, humble and proud, and have a sense of humor? Then you might just be a leader.
My dear friend, the late Jack Stanford, understood this issue better than anyone. He expressed it best in the Foreword to The Board Game, “the single most important component of successful nonprofit organizations: the relationship between the CEO, the board chair, and the governing board.” I completely agree with Jack’s insight!