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How to Create Better Non-Profit Leadership Teams

Managing a non-profit organization is not easy, especially if it keeps growing in size. That is why many CEOs decide to build an executive team. Still, building a dedicated board is not an easy task.

The Bridgespan Group recently did a comprehensive research study and found that most non-profits struggle with their leadership teams’ performance. The majority of board members, on the other hand, believe that CEOs don’t address dynamics and performance challenges within the team properly.

How to address these issues effectively and build solid leadership teams?

Let’s find out!


Remember: the CEO is the Backbone of the Non-Profit Board

As the head of the non-profit organization, the CEO is responsible for building a strong leadership team. Their role is to define assign clear roles, create meeting agendas, support team members, and assess their performance regularly. CEOs should manage the executive team’s dynamics and build a cohesive workplace culture. Inconsistencies between board members’ expectations and the CEO’s goals may compromise the overall workplace performance.

Another big role of the CEO is to be decisive. They need to set expectations of their board members clearly, such as:

  • Believing in their organization’s missions and values.
  • Collaborating with other board members to achieve certain goals.
  • Attending committee meetings regularly and preparing for these meetings properly.
  • Constantly familiarizing themselves by learning more about the organization, its values and community.
  • Being able to step down from the leadership position if unable to meet the required expectations.

Most importantly, make sure you let both your existing executive team members and potential ones about these requirements. This way, you will remove any ambiguities and keep your board members focused on those aspects of their job that matter.


Encourage Diversity

Some recent statistics say that only 46.5% of working-age disabled people were employed in the UK in 2017. Irrespective of their experience, knowledge, and passions, these people usually face numerous problems, from disrespect on their co-workers’ side to lower salaries.

One of the most effective ways to address this problem within your organization is to build a highly diverse leadership team. Hire the board of people with different backgrounds, interests, and professions. Why not consult a disability employment agency to help you build the board of highly experienced, differently-abled people?

By building your executive team on the pillars of inclusion and diversity, you will enrich your organization’s culture. Diverse boards are able to manage staff and volunteers empathetically and support individuality.

Empathetic leadership is an indicator that you appreciate workplace diversity and may help you attract and retain top talent. Most importantly, this will also build trust with your investors and grow your profits.  


Improve Collaboration between Team Members

Boosting collaboration between your organization’s leaders, staff, and volunteers can make or break the board’s performance.

Just think about it – to cater to the interests of the organization’s members, your board members’ goals need to be aligned. Stats back me up on that, showing that executive teams that work like teams have an 800% higher impact on an organization’s bottom line than individual CEOs. And, the reasons for that are logical. When executive team members work well together, this sets the positive tone for the rest of your non-profit, impacting other members’ collaboration and communication.

Always remember that just because your board members are sitting together doesn’t mean they’re a team. This is exactly why leadership team members should minimize the culture of conflict. Instead of wrestling each other with complex questions, they should work on better communication actively.

Ask board members to work on different projects together and encourage constructive conflict. Inspire them to talk to each other, listen to and support their colleagues’ different perspectives, and encourage collaboration between them. 


Plan Everything to Maximize Productivity

If you want to build a real leadership team, you need to manage them. And, planning and strategizing your board meetings should be one of your top priorities.

To improve communication among your executive team members and boost the effectiveness of your board meetings, you need to carefully plan them in advance. Start by preparing your agendas thoughtfully. Emphasize the meeting discussion topics and send out the agenda a week in advance. This way, you will let your board members prepare for the meeting properly.

Inspire your folks to express their ideas, but remember that it’s easy for them to get distracted and go off topic. The chair of the board should always remind the rest of the topic of the meeting and encourage them to stick to the meeting agenda. 


Evaluate your Leadership Teams

Building a diverse and hard-working leadership team is only half the job done. The other half is evaluating your members’ productivity and making sure they understand their responsibilities and goals.

There are a few areas to assess, including:

  • Leadership – Assess how board members perform their duties and whether they meet the required objectives. Also, you should pay attention to how successfully the chair of the board is managing other board members and how their solutions impact the organization.
  • The effectiveness of meetings. Are they organized regularly? Are they planned and structured properly? Are board members educated properly on their roles?
  • Communication and collaboration – Are the board meetings constructive? Do committees get along? Do their ideas and skills complement, helping your organization grow?

Opinions of other employees – Ask them how they see the executive team? Do they make the right decisions? What’s the relationship between the board and other employees?

Further information

To build a solid leadership board for your non-profit, you need to understand your role as the CEO. You’re the one that needs to understand the individuality of your board members and address their unique ideas and expectations. Use their differences to build a vibrant, diverse, and engaged team, focused on communication and proactive problem-solving. Most importantly, strategize your moves in advance and always evaluate the performance of your board to maximize its effectiveness.

These are key factors that will impact the growth and success of your non-profit.


Page last edited Mar 29, 2019 History

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