Who’s responsibility is it to fix a weak nonprofit board that no longer adds value, when the organization’s needs exceed what the current board can provide? Who’s job is it to be sure the organization has the right board composition to take the organization to the next level? The board president, the Executive Director, any director? Who?
I’ve had these questions asked of me several times this year alone and in each case I tell them, it is your responsibility. Whether you serve as the president, the ED or as a director, when things no longer work, leaders have to call it out and make the case for change. That is what leadership means. That’s why we get the “big bucks”.
Now I know you are thinking… easy for Tom to say. He doesn’t have to fall on his own sword and tell his “bosses” they aren’t cutting it. I get that. Still, aside from your clients, who most suffers when the nonprofit “drifts” or is no longer making an impact? Its you, the ED, so you really have little choice.
There are several ways to bring up the subject. I’d suggest starting with the chair of the Governance Committee/Board Development Committee and the board president. The best way to handle this is to go at it straight away…not beating around the bush. Keeping this discussion fact-based and results (or lack thereof) -oriented. This conversation is not about people or personalities, it is about results, poor performance, and insufficient community impact. It is about bringing onto the board new directors with skill sets and giftings the nonprofit needs now to effect your clientele.
There are a lot of other tools available to help with this discussion (assessments, SWOT’s, board consultants to name a few) but in the end, straight talk is needed in these crucial conversations.
I’d like to hear from you if you had to deal with this problem. How did you handle it, how did it go? Send me a note or write a comment below…