• board development,  governance

    The Five Attributes of High Performing Boards

    What are organizations looking for from their board members? Sometimes, even the CEO doesn't really know what to do with their board members once they have them. A High Impact Board knows that its job is to determine the WHY of the organization and to leave the HOW to the staff. They do that by setting policy and then holding staff accountable for performance. In my experience managing the board function for three different organizations and serving on the boards of another dozen nonprofits, I have found that there are five key attributes that must exist if you want a high-functioning board. There must be a Commitment to the Mission,…

  • burnout,  culture,  mission,  mission fatigue

    Help your Team Overcome Burnout

    When I spoke to at a recent national conference on the topic of Mission Fatigue, I was surprised by the overwhelming response to the session. Attendees were obviously experiencing some significant work-related stress, so the topic resonated with them. Quite simply, they needed someone to validate their feelings. One attendee even emailed me a few weeks after the session, "It was very beneficial to me to know that I am not alone in my feelings of being overwhelmed . . ." Just like my correspondent, being overwhelmed is common for workers in the nonprofit space. After all, the work is of vital importance and the need is great. That makes…

  • burnout,  culture,  mission,  mission fatigue,  purpose

    Are You Experiencing Mission Fatigue?

    I was recently asked to give a presentation for the employees from various nonprofit organizations in the region on the topic of Mission Fatigue. My first thought was, “I don’t know anything about this topic! Why me?” But because I have this issue with saying no, I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes, I would be happy to.” As I thought more about the topic and began working on my presentation, I realized what an important issue this is for nonprofit workers. And the more I researched, the more I realized that indeed, I do have something important to say on the topic. The business world calls it burnout. The medical…

  • decision-making,  executive successions,  strategy,  transitions

    The top ten reasons you may need a consultant

    All leaders - nonprofit or business, government or education - need to  constantly improve their own skills to improve their organization's outcomes.  All too often, leaders think they can do it all on their own. Just like a lawyer shouldn’t represent himself in court, leaders need to admit they don't know everything about managing people, processes, boards, or finances. To take your organization and its people to the next level it is often a wise decision to call in a Management Consultant. Here are the top ten reasons to hire a consultant. You need expertise you do not have within your organization. IT consulting is a perfect example of this.…

  • board development,  governance,  leadership

    What kind of board member will you be?

    In my previous posts on governance, I covered the essence of board service and then the bad behaviors seen in many nonprofit boards. Today’s post will focus on the types of behaviors that all board members should strive toward. If you are lucky enough to serve on a board full of these board members, count your blessings. And if you aren't, then now is a good time to start working on that. Facilitator: This is the board member who likes to hear all view points while keeping the discussion moving. They make excellent Chairs but if carried out to a fault, can result in meetings that drag on and on.…

  • board development,  culture,  governance,  leadership

    Don’t be like these board members!

    Today's post includes those board behaviors that I hope you never have to witness. By exploring these behaviors before you experience them, you will be better equipped to address them when they occur. In Part One of this series on Governance, we talked about board service in general including the basic responsibilities of board members.  Before reading part two of the series, I encourage you to start with the Board service basics. Board member characteristics I hope you never encounter: Absentee: This is the member who is using the role as a resume builder or status symbol or who is serving because of their professional role, but who really isn't interested…

  • board development,  decision-making,  governance,  purpose

    Are You Ready for Board Service?

    Nonprofit organizations that have an engaged board of directors are stronger financially, attract qualified staff in greater numbers, and have better outcomes. There are many schools of thought regarding what makes a good nonprofit board - or good board members. Some believe the board must be made up of movers and shakers in the community. Other organizations look for deep pockets willing to contribute financially to the organization. Then there are those who believe that a strong board includes people of varied backgrounds and skills - finance, law, marketing, risk management, etc. And still others seek people who are committed to the cause they are organized around - environmentalists on…

  • culture,  governance,  leadership,  performance management,  values

    Workplace Bullies

    Bullying in the workplace is a serious problem that doesn't get enough attention. Having experienced workplace bullying, I can attest that it makes work life unbearable.  It affects workers, productivity, and culture in significant ways, but is too often ignored.  In our consulting work at Leadership Bridges we often (but certainly not always) find that organizations experiencing dysfunction also have a history of harassment and bullying. Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik, Gary Namie, and Ruth Namie, in their article Workplace Bullying: Causes, Consequences, and Corrections, define workplace bullying as "repeated, health-harming mistreatment that takes one or more of the following forms: verbal abuse; offensive conduct and behaviors that are threatening, humiliating or intimidating;…

  • mission,  purpose,  vision

    Building Cathedrals

      The news of the tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris brought to mind this classic story: A man came upon a construction site where three people were working.  He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the worker replied: “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the worker replied: “I am building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard the worker humming a tune, and asked, “What are you doing?” The worker stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral!” (source unknown) What do you think about the attitude of these three workers?…

  • culture,  leadership,  performance management,  team building,  transitions

    The tainted star

    We’ve all met them. Many of us have worked with them. And sometimes we have had to fire them. The “them” I am talking about are those star performers who also have issues relating to those around them. If you give this star an assignment they can perform independently, they excel. But once you pair them with others, the trouble begins.  You often don’t recognize the signs quickly either. In my experience, these stars tend to be self-starters. they have great skills in project management, research, and follow through. On the one hand, you appreciate how well they perform the tasks and projects you assign them. But conversely they tend…

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