There are many resources about the roles and responsibilities of board chairs. In a study published in 2007, The Best and Worst of Board Chairs, researchers Yvonne Harrison and Vic Murray found that “trustworthiness, intelligence and good listening skills are the highest-rated qualities for board chairs, while being dictatorial, critical and motivated by self-interest are the lowest-rated qualities.”
Harrison and Murray concluded that the best way to ensure effective board leadership is to develop a thorough job description, establish a clear system of succession to the chair, and conduct annual evaluations.
Another study sponsored by CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Meyer Foundation called Daring to Lead 2011: A National Study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership found that only 20 percent of the three thousand nonprofit executives surveyed were satisfied with their board’s performance. That statistic is not a surprise. Similar results were noted in earlier Daring to Lead studies.
The lesson is clear. A positive relationship between the board and its CEO that includes adequate time devoted by both the executive and the board is not an accident. Focusing on this relationship must be at the top of the list for organizational leaders.
Give us some examples of your relationship with your board.
Dennis McMillian is President of The Foraker Group, a capacity building organization based in Alaska, and the author of Focus on Sustainability: A Nonprofit’s Journey.