The issue of mutual expectations

December 2, 2013       The NonProfit Times      

It is understandable that managers are looking for something from their boards, but that shouldn’t blind them to the fact that boards are looking for something from them, too. Engagement on both sides can be helpful all around.

During a recent international fundraising conference, Karin Cox of Hartsook Companies Inc., and Steve Newberry of Commonwealth Broadcasting raised the issue of mutual expectations on the parts of boards and managers.

True, managers are looking for the following leadership characteristics from board members: A positive attitude; Focus; Perseverance; Courage; Accountability; and, Confidence.

On the other side of the coin, however, it should be noted that board members are looking for exactly the same punch-list from an organization’s managing officer(s).

Cox and Newberry offered the reminder that engagement can be encouraged in the following ways: Spend individual time; Listen more than talking; Assume the best (and ignore the worst); Get on the same page; Appreciate; and, Stay close to the mission.

Remember, an engaged board offers the following benefits:

  • More hours in the day;
  • More “you” to go around;
  • Greater access to key individuals;
  • More experience;
  • Greater influence;
  • More knowledge;
  • More shoulders to carry the weight; and,
  • More energy to devote to the mission.