Accelerating the growth of your organization is not a decision made lightly. Many factors must align to position your organization to move to the next level. First and foremost is to ensure your organization’s strategic direction is nailed down. Once you know who you are, who you serve, and what it is that you want to achieve, you need to answer the following five questions about your Board of Directors.
1. DO YOU HAVE THE SUPPORT OF THE BOARD?
Having the support of the Board is crucial to moving the organization forward. Often, the process required to accelerate the organization will alter the culture and character of the organization. The process may require new ways of doing things, changes in decision making, and changes in relationships with stakeholders. Is your Board ready for this change?
2. HOW FAST IS THE BOARD READY TO MOVE?
Boards can be notoriously conservative in their decision making. No one wants to have a disaster on their watch. If a decision can’t be made today, a tendency of many Boards is to hand the work off to a committee which will analyze the situation and report back to the Board. This indecision loop can kill the momentum needed to accelerate the organization’s growth. Lean is best. Make sure the Board understands their role and the role of staff in moving forward.
3. IS THE BOARD COMFORTABLE WITH UNANSWERED QUESTIONS?
As much as you try, planning cannot foresee all contingencies. To avoid analysis paralysis, sometimes a ‘leap of faith’ is required to get the project started; which leaves you to navigate the pit-falls as they materialize. Do your homework, answer the crucial questions as best you can, and put your plan in motion. Is your Board comfortable with this approach?
4. CAN THE BOARD STEP OUT OF THE WAY?
Contrary to good governance, many Boards dabble in the day-to-day operations of the organization. There are numerous reasons for his, the most common being the need to be in control. To accelerate the organization to the next level, the Board will need to let staff do their jobs…that is what they are hired for. If the Board does not have confidence in the Executive Director (and staff) to do the job, the topic of governance will need to be addressed now.
5. HOW WILL THE BOARD FEEL WHEN GROWTH STALLS?
Like many great plans, they rarely proceed as you hope. There are many reasons for this: transition of key staff, competing priorities, economic downturn, funding shortfalls, etc. To this end, how will the Board feel when growth does not materialize as planned? Despite the contagious positive vibes of the optimists in the crowd, initial planning must include best case and worst case scenarios. A smart Executive Director prepares the Board for the worst, and plans for the best.
As the catalyst within the organization you need to do your homework, engage your team in the crucial discussions, and remain mission-focused. Accelerating your organization’s growth requires a deep level of leadership to ensure timely decision-making, resource allocation, and focus on results.
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