Hi and welcome to the Nonprofit series, where I will be addressing topics of particular interest to all sorts of nonprofit organizations such as how to select a board, how to engage volunteers, how to reduce turnover and how to understand your mission.
Today we are discussing how to select a board of directors most effectively. The purpose of a board of directors is to provide leadership, guidance, and accountability to the organization. As is the case with most hiring that is done, it is most usual for whoever is nominating board members to select people he or she relates to, likes, and appreciates. This is a danger because just like with hiring, if you are surrounded by people similar to you who share your ideals, you may not have the range of ideas and accountability that are needed to grow the organization and move it forward.
The key then to an effective board is diversity. Diversity within the group, but most importantly, diversity from you. All types of diversity are useful- gender, race, class and creed, but I would argue what is even more important is diversity of temperament or personality. Here’s how to construct a diverse and effective board:
First, understand your personality and gifts. To be at your best, understanding your own leadership style and approach is critical.
Second, create a well rounded board. Whichever system you use most, the target is to be sure all categories are represented. For example:
Myers Briggs: All 4 temperament groups should be represented. NF (Idealist), NT (Rational), SJ (Guardian), and SP (Artisan).
StrengthsFinder: All 4 leadership domains should be represented. Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building and Strategic Thinking.
Enneagram: Ideally all 9 types but at a minimum all 3 centers (head, heart and gut), and all 3 dominant instincts (self preservation, social, sexual) should be represented.
If you need help understanding how to test potential board members or what these categories mean, send me a message and I’m happy to help.
Third, connect around a common mission or set of values. Diversity has its challenges, but these are minimized when there is a common vision. Take the time from the outset to clarify what it is we are all here to do, and then allow your board with it’s well rounded strength to shine.
I’m curious, what have you found to be most successful in selecting a board? Leave a comment below or send me a message, I’d love to know!
Join us next week for week 2 in the nonprofit series, how to reduce employee turnover.