Does Your Boss Have a Boss?
I've been guilty myself. There is great criticism and consternation now about leaders in Washington "kicking the can down the road." It seems many of the tough decisions are deferred to someone else. And most often, they leave damages for others to fix along the way.
So, I must confess. I know it's often hard to make tough decisions. Even the obvious ones can sometimes be difficult. I've put off challenging decisions at great expense to me — and most often increased stress and decreased results.
When we talk about these decisions with a nonprofit, we are usually dealing with a public trust. In a highly functioning or highly challenged nonprofit, a common denominator is a strong or weak board. In the future, we'll discuss the board's role as an ethical watchdog. But let's focus on the board's role in supervising the CEO for performance and ethics. It is essential to have a proper structure in place — whether the role is given to the board as a whole, a compensation committee or the executive committee.
If there is a human resources function in the organization, utilize it. Also look at the benefits of bringing in outside counsel to help the board with its role as the CEO's supervisor. This could range from compensation counsel to helping the board set and measure goals with the CEO. Board members need guidelines, performance objectives and even the right forms. They need to be coached on when and how to perform a review (and this should take place more often than once a year). Of course, the board should develop a strategic plan and appropriate policies, and then empower the CEO to implement and accomplish them. It is important to hold the CEO accountable and reward him/her for the results!
I'll never forget visiting with a former Fortune 500 CEO who had just served two years as board chair for one of the largest nonprofits in a community. When he asked what authority he could have exercised over the CEO, I froze. "Well, you could have had him fired," I responded.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.