Management consultant and bestselling author of Good to Great and Good to Great and the Social Sectors, Jim Collins has compared a chief executive’s journey to that of a bus driver, noting that both are in charge of using the best route to reach the final destination. However, the comparison is not just about reaching a goal; it is about “getting the right people on the bus” and building a dynamic leadership team for your organization.
Nonprofit executives are justifiably concerned about hiring appropriate and experienced staff, but often the same amount of time and diligence isn’t applied in recruiting and building a board of directors. We are all familiar with the classic template of skills, connections and attributes that should ideally be represented on a nonprofit board; however, this approach alone is not enough to build an effective, high performing board.
Building a strong board requires thoughtful analysis, strategic thinking and management skills. Nonprofit executives and board leaders also need to consider the role the board will play in communications, in addition to their roles in fiduciary management and fund development. New and experienced board members alike tend to look to the senior team and development staff for guidance and partnership in accomplishing their roles in supporting the organization.