CompassPoint’s new report on nonprofit leadership trends (Daring to Lead 2006, available for download here) has lots of great insights for cultural leaders and their boards. Among the most striking of their summary conclusions is this one:
Boards of directors and funders
contribute to executive burnout
Negative perception of the board of directors is strongly associated with executive director turnover. Although a majority (65%) of executives feel personally supported by their boards, most don’t appear to be experiencing a strong strategic partnership. Fewer than one in three executives agree strongly that their board challenges them to be more effective.
If that didn’t smack you in the head, you must have ducked.
Compare that finding to John Carver’s concise description of a governing board’s role:
Simply put, the board exists (usually on someone else’s behalf) to be accountable that its organization works.+++
Either a bunch of board members are intentionally doing the wrong job, don’t understand their job, or can’t do the job they’ve been given, or two thirds of the executives surveyed are confused (I’ll guess it’s somewhere in between…tilting toward the board side). Assuming most board members really want to promote strong, compelling, and responsive work by the organizations they govern, there’s clearly a structural flaw in our system of leadership that can’t be resolved by changing the players. That means we have to change the game.
Thanks, Tracy, for bringing the report to my attention.
+++NOTE: An extended perspective from Carver on how the board achieves this role might be interesting to some. Both quotes are from a downloadable article I’ve referenced in the past. Here’s the meat of it:
Since the board is accountable that the organization works, and since the actual running of the organization is substantially in the hands of management, then it is important to the board that management be successful. The board must therefore increase the likelihood that management will be successful, while making it possible to recognize whether or not it really is successful. This calls upon the board to be very clear about its expectations, to personalize the assignment of those expectations, and then to check whether the expectations have been met. Only in this way is everyone concerned clear about what constitutes success and who has what role in achieving it.