Serving on a Board – Part 2

What is YOUR role?


Help! I was just elected to serve on a board. Has that ever happened to you? If so, then I have some more guidance for you this week. 

Last week I took a look at the role of a board. I chose to look at it from the perspective of the purpose that it is supposed to fulfill. The article really dealt with the types of boards and the functions of boards serving non-profit organizations. This week, I want to look at what you and I must do if we are called upon to serve on a board.

Quick Review

There are three board functions that we covered. In summary, they are to advise, to consent, and to lead. 

Advise — To advise means to offer suggestions about the best way to operate or the best course of action to take. The one being advised is under no obligation to accept the advice and the one providing it cannot mandate that it be accepted and implemented.

Consent — To consent means to give permission for something to happen. In theory, nothing happens without that consent. And that is where some problems begin in the non-profit world. Many a strong or controlling leader has made a consenting board into a “rubber stamp” board by packing it with friendly and like-minded individuals. 

Lead — To lead means to operate and execute the day to day operations of the organization. And the board leads the organization itself through the insightful creation of strategies, plans, policies, and practices that increase the scope and span of the non-profit organization.

Focus on the Non-Profit Board Member

You have been elected to serve. Now what? You know the three basic functions that a board provides for an organization. But, what happens at the individual level? The answer is simple. And it is the same as at the board level. You are there to give your advice, to give your consent, and to lead the organization. That leadership may be a solo activity at times. But it is a function that you must be able to provide.

Advising — You are there to provide input. That input is just another word for advice. You are there to list to be sure. But you are there to speak. A completely silent board member is a wasted chair at the table. That sounds harsh and I realize that. But, if you just sit and observe what goes on and never contribute, then you are taking the place of someone who would be willing to do offer solutions to the challenges that most organizations face. I hope that the board that you serve on has a commissioning ceremony or some other occasion to mark the start of your tenure. But if not, don’t wait to be charged. Begin as soon as you can to contribute to the collective wisdom that rests within the board.

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Today Is Your Chance


Election Day 1It seems that a lot of leaders are hiding behind a mask, which says leadership, but does not necessarily represent it.

Today is Election Day, Tuesday, November 4. There is a lot of talk about leadership and what it means, if we are going in the right direction or not. I’ve been involved in a few conversations on the subject, friends, coworkers etc. I get mixed responses to my question, what is leadership to you? Are you a leader? Do you think like a leader? Do you want to be a leader? Is leadership even needed? So on this day of change, what does leadership mean to you?

I typically leave the political commentary to more experienced authors on this blog, but there has been so much talk lately about the elections, I felt the need to start a discussion. What I want to know is, can we actually effect change with the election? Or will it take something more drastic?

Election Day 2Now I am not proposing a revolution, but I do wonder how long the current state of affairs in this country can continue. Based on today’s political climate, what is leadership going to look like for our children, our grandchildren? How do we prepare them to see through the veil of false leadership in the future?

I have to believe we can change the world around us. I have to believe our founding fathers thought enough of our voice to have elections. I also believe that contributing to process is everyone’s right and responsibility. If we didn’t believe these things, what kind of life would we have?

So to anyone that reads this today, whatever your political affiliation, go vote. Sometimes it can be a tedious process, but so is the line at Starbucks. Skip one cup of coffee today and get to the polls.

Photo credit: Ben Fredericson (xjrlokix) / Foter / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: Greg McMullin / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: hjl / Foter / CC BY

The Importance of Perception

Importance of Perception - 1“It is more important to the rest of the world that your American president appear or be or be perceived to be a leader than for him to actually be a leader.”

This was a statement made by some colleagues at dinner the other night. I have been in Spain for most of this past week on a business trip. And all of my colleagues are not from the United States. One was from New Zealand, one was from Belgium, one was from the U.K., and the folks we were meeting were all from Spain. So, I tried to keep my mouth shut as much as possible lest I create an inter nation incident!

But I am struck by this question: What are the implications of this kind of thinking?

This was a painful thought for me to consider and it has been on my mind since the moment that one of them said it to me.

What does that mean about leadership?  Is that a statement about political leadership in particular? Is any part of that sentiment true?  What about your leadership role?

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The Pot Bowl?

details of my garden
MendezEnrique / / CC BY-NC-SA

I want to make clear this viewpoint is from a leadership perspective and NOT a political view. It has plenty to do with the decline in leadership of core moral values that has made America a great country, and Colorado and Washington great states respectively. I have been following this issue with a keen interest for some time and feel now is an appropriate time to share my thoughts. I have arrived at this conclusion largely due to Wyoming being a peripheral state to Colorado.

As many of you know Colorado and Washington have recently embraced the use of marijuana. I have no real issues with people using marijuana, but here is where the real rub comes in. Does Peyton Manning really want to be associated with retiring after the “Pot Bowl”?

Seriously now; During this time when Colorado and Washington are embracing (according to federal law) an illegal drug, for the sake of revenue, Colorado has lost to the state of Wyoming (so far) three legal revenue generating manufactures.

Magpull Winner
abcovey / / CC BY-NC-ND

An even deeper look at the issue of safety shows these states are lacking in judgment and are neglecting to provide their residences reasonable safety measures for a “few more dollars”. This is also indicative of a continued moral decline in leadership of both the Federal and State governments by telegraphing the message, “You don’t have to step up and be responsible, we’ll lower our standards to meet you where you are”. Meanwhile signaling danger to all who travel the highways as well.

The short term effects afforded the states are as follows:

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Elected Leaders vs. Influential Leaders

Elected vs Influential - 1Here is challenge that you may have to face at some point in your leadership career. You will encounter two types of leaders. Elected leaders and Influential leaders.

Have you ever considered these two types? If not, consider them now.

Elected leaders are the ones that we may be familiar with the most. It is reasonably clear how they became leaders. Someone recognized leadership ability within them. The organization then went on and nominated or appointed them to a position of responsibility and leadership. That is fairly clear cut. Ability was recognized and a position was attained. This is generally a good model and it produces good results.

Elected vs Influential - 2Now consider the second type – the Influential leader. This person generally does not have real leadership skills. Yet they have a position of leadership in spite of it. They generally attain the position through shear force of personality.  That may be just a euphemism for being a bully. But that is not always the case. Sometimes it is because they possess a specialized skill.  Sometimes they attain it through longevity within the organization. Sometime they attain the role of leader through fame, notoriety, family or financial position. These are the leaders that are difficult to work with or work for.

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Leaders, Who needs ’em?


Why do I need a leader? They just get in the way, I don’t need anyone telling me what to do, or leading me. I am the master of my own universe; I decide what I do, when I do and how I do it. If I want someone else’s opinion I will ask for it.

I spent 18 years trying to get away from my parents leadership, now I got cops, politicians, God and a boss setting rules, who needs another one. I follow my own rules, I follow my own path, I don’t need you.

I’ve read stories about great leaders like General Custer who LEAD his troops to a slaughter, and I have read in the Bible where it says in Luke chapter 22, verse 26: “…Let the greatest among you become the youngest and the leader as the one who serves, “ and didn’t Lot let his wife get turned into a pillar of salt? As I look around the world, it is full of

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