Board development and bread on water

According to Daring to Lead,  just out from CompassPoint Nonprofit Services, the folks at the top of U.S. nonprofits are a dispirited bunch. In fact, more than half of the 3,000 or so CEOs who participated in the Meyer Foundation-funded study are ready to throw in the towel.

A mere 20% of nonprofit CEOs say they are satisfied with their boards. Just 33% of CEOs believe that their boards will hire the right successor when they leave. And only 45% say they are happy in their jobs. At the heart of the morass is  CEO desire for “a deeper level of understanding from boards about what it takes to be an executive director and better attention to succession planning, bench strength, making the right hire, and providing ongoing support.”

And how do boards come to this understanding of what CEOs need? Ironically, it’s up to the CEO to make it happen. As Daring to Lead suggests, with their boards, organizational leaders reap what they sow.

Among executive directors who spend 10 hours or less per month on board-related matters, only 17% said they were very satisfied with the board’s performance. Of those who spent more than 10 hours per month working with the board, 23%—nearly a quarter—were very satisfied with board performance.  These findings highlight the paradoxical nature of the relationship between the executive director and the board.

For overextended executive directors who are frustrated with weak board performance, investing even more time working with the board may not seem worthwhile. . . However, the results of the survey suggest that time invested by executive directors in supporting and working with the board contributes to improved board performance and increased board participation.

The implied outcome of improved performance and increased participation is boards that are more attentive to the care, well-being, and overall happiness of their CEOs. In other words, like the proverbial bread on water, a CEO’s time devoted in building up the board will come back again.

What's your take on this topic?

%d bloggers like this: