There aren’t always easy answers to questions about roles and goals that seamlessly follow the strategies we use in our relationships with association leaders around the world. But this time, the answer flowed easily from my experience to the page, and it’s a powerful question — worth sharing.
Q: I am trying to describe to a volunteer leader the merits of a strong Board/CEO (or staff) partnership. I would welcome your wisdom and input on the following two questions:
- What are the top characteristics of a highly productive Board/CEO Partnership?
- What differentiates productive Board/CEO Partnerships from dysfunctional ones?
A: Top characteristics of partnership:
- Consensus about what constitutes success via a working long range strategic plan that drives the annual operating plan.
- Clarity of roles and responsibilities of both board and CEO
- Confidence in the competence of your partners (board in staff; staff in board)
- Informed, knowledge-based decision making.
Difference between productive board and dysfunctional one:
- Everything! You can feel it in the room and see it on agendas and in minutes.
- Expectations are articulated in advance in productive boards.
- When egos of individual board members (or CEO) or personal needs, wants or preferences take precedence over the organization’s goals, you can expect the infighting to begin.
Not sure any of these “arguments” will hold water with a volunteer leader who wants to be king (or queen) and expects the CEO to be in charge of the serfs. Perhaps describing the likely outcome of a poor partnership might at least temper the situation. Warn the volunteer leader that she/he can create a situation where no one wants to work there, be on the board or engage in the association because it’s not enjoyable or meaningful work.
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