Board candidates and directors want to serve on boards that make an impact but not all of them are willing to pay the price to either exercise, or follow, authentic leadership to do so. And, unless you provide challenging and meaningful board experiences to your directors you run the risk of losing the good ones and being stuck with the left-overs. Not a good thing. I imagine there is as much nonprofit competition for best-in-class director candidates in your community as there is for major donors.

I’ve been talking to a lot of board leaders, members, and directors lately about “upping their board game” and have some ideas on how you can lead your board to new levels of impact through authenticity.¬†Warning: Some ideas may feel a bit confrontational or too direct for your nonprofit’s culture. However, if you are being true to your mission and your supporters, implementing a few of these ideas may be just what you need to break into a higher level of ministry impact.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself…and your leadership team…and your board’s executive committee:

  • Do we periodically challenge the board to bring its “A” game or do we accept it when they “mail it in”?
  • Do we allow healthy friction into spirited board discussions so we can make the best possible decision or do we let comity and peace edge out creativity?
  • Do we focus on our strategy or do we get lost in the details and inconsequential issues?
  • Do we hold directors accountable for their board assignments and responsibilities or do we easily and repeatedly excuse nonperformance?
  • Do we focus on the challenges and opportunities of next 24 months or do we live in the past, relying on old ways of doing things?
  • Are our board agendas loaded with forward-looking topics, centered on our key issues, and strategic?
  • Do we appropriately confront nonperforming, ineffective, disengaged, or frequently absent directors?
  • Do we factor in generational diversity into our planning or do we keep singing the same song to the same choir in each newsletter, e-mail, and “promo?
  • Do we periodically check ourselves to be sure we are keeping “the main thing”– the main thing?
  • Have we ever gone off-agenda to discuss topics like: What keeps us up at night about the ministry? If we were starting this organization today–brand new–would we organize it the same way it is organized right now? Are we really addressing our key issues or have we ignored them and fallen into a comfort trap?
  • What are we doing to create, promote, and sustain a culture of high energy, high capacity, high performance and high expectations?
  • When was the last time you conducted an organizational or a board assessment via an outside consultant to do a review of your alignment, culture, and structure?
  • Is our budget and structure appropriately aligned with our stated priorities?

I warned you, some of these may be messy and may run counter-culture but I suggest they also may be just what your ministry needs to break out into new levels of authenticity and impact. Try a few and let me know how it goes. I’de love to hear about the renewed energy and focus you may be bringing to your organization.