How often have you heard a Board Chair announce to a meeting something like: “Mary has decided to leave the Board, who do you know who can replace her”?
Unfortunately, the “who do you know” recruitment process, which still seems to be alive and well in the not for profit sector, is hardly the recipe for a high performing, energetic, forward-looking Board.
The primary reason for this is that the people you know are most likely people, well, just like …. YOU! So the “Who you know” method will most probably replicate the same set of views you already have around the table.
Sure, as a Chair you have to make sure your mission is still relevant. Yes, you must ensure that your fellow board members, especially new ones, understand their responsibilities clearly. And, at a basic level you need to have a quorum to run meetings and make decisions. But, the most critical element for a successful Board is diversity.
Having sufficient people on the bus is important. Having the right people on the bus is paramount. But having people of different generations, life experiences, genders, professional training, and ethnicities around a table who are committed to bring their unique perspectives to bear on very complex and important issues, is surely the ultimate goal for every Board Chair.
Not an easy task, but as I have said, being a Chair of a not for profit Board can be difficult.
By Chris Gandy – Chris is the Founder and Principal of Cause & Effective. We specialise in assisting cause-based organisations to maximise the opportunities that arise during leadership transitions.