With a passion and commitment to help both local and statewide organizations achieve their goals, Jeanne Reaves has served on numerous non-profit and corporate boards to lend her business expertise and experiences. So what talents and skills does Jeanne feel are most valuable for helping a board of directors to succeed? And what about conflict? If the board is divided, how can the organization get back on track? Jeanne answers these questions and more below!
What skills, talents and experience do you look for in a board member?
A: All boards should have a matrix of their board members and the desired expertise, gender, age, etc. for prospect board members. This helps ensure they have the right talent on the board to represent the needs of the organization, and for non-profits, the needs of community as well.
How can board members best work together to achieve the organization's goals they represent?
A: A strategic plan should be in place, and the board needs to review the plan no less than quarterly to ensure all board members and staff are working together to achieve goals in the short term and the long term. It should also be understood that board members are fiduciary members who oversee the organization and are not to "manage" the organization. The CEO manages the organization, and the board is only responsible to manage the performance of said CEO and the oversight of the organization.
If a board is divided, how can they work to get back on track?
A: Depending on how divided the board is, a couple of steps can be taken. If it is just differences of opinion (which is healthy), then typically the executive committee or board chair can meet with board members most uneasy with what is occurring, and find common ground. If it is a difficult or particularly sensitive situation, an objective third party can help. At Jeanne Reaves Consulting, we have performed individual meetings with each board member so the underlining issues can be addressed, and then find a way for collaboration and harmony.
As an active member of the community, and having served on multiple boards, what advice do you have for a new board member?
A: Make sure the orientation is clear and material is provided regarding programs, funding and financial statements so the learning curve is easier. Ask for the strategic plan so you know the direction the organization desires over a term specified. Don't leave your skills at the door when you arrive, you were selected because of your talents and reputation so make sure you are available when the organization requests your help. Read the "board package" sent to you prior to the board meeting and participate in meetings. If you are not clear on items within the board package, call the CEO, board chair or fellow board member for clarity.
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