Think back to the last time you had to (or at least wanted to) confront your boss about micromanaging your work. Now imagine having ten bosses instead of one. You’ve just stepped into the shoes of your nonprofit’s executive director. While we might all like to cast aside the possibility of an overreaching board member in our organizations, even the most well run nonprofit boards will deal with difficult board members at some point. Boards are full of, well, humans, who have a unique set of personal experiences, emotions, and motivations that influence on their job as a director. Sometimes, that can lead to conflict that is uncomfortable, unproductive, and even contrary to the organization’s best interests.
At times, issues will give rise to spirited debate among Board Members who each possess valuable yet different skill sets and different points of view. The Chair should make efforts to mediate differing opinions and encourage consensus on actions or policies that represent the best aspects of all points of view.
3. Think Big. Boards without great leadership can get bogged down in the minutia. The minutia include the compliance and oversight responsibilities of the board. While it’s important to do these things well, it’s not the organization’s raison d’être. Great board chairs help steer the board clear of this phenomenon by keeping the board focused on their vision of the impact the board wants to make on the community the organization serves. Great board chairs understand that focusing on the organization’s breakthrough goals rather than busywork keeps the board energized and engaged.