Question: Recently I have begun to feel uncomfortable with the closed sessions our Board of Directors has been having. Our Board Chair has now suggested that we have a closed session at every meeting without the CEO or any staff present. The Board agreed to go along with the Chair, but I don’t think I’m the only one that doesn’t really like it. What do you think of closed sessions? Are they right? Read more
The fact that visits to my blog more than tripled in a single day when I posted part one of this two-part article is an indication that I touched a nerve. Good. In this article I want to share how to get out of this mess or better yet how to avoid it altogether. If you didn’t read part one, you may wish to now so this will have more meaning for you and your board. Briefly, a perfect storm results from abusive use of power with some or all of the seven (or eight) elements that I mentioned in part one meet up with accountability. That’s the perfect storm.
It’s obvious that the first effort should be to avoid the storm. The problem is that we tend not to think about storms until we can see them. What I mean is that almost any structure works when there is harmony and alignment. It’s when there is disharmony and conflict that you see how vague and sloppy your structure is. I have seen so many conflicts develop because of unclear organizational structures. When there is a lack of clarity on how authority flows, strong leaders behave like two rams (or ewes) going in different directions on a one-way mountain trail. Here’s how to avoid them before you can see them. Read more
In my fifty years of leadership in not-for-profit organisations, the last fifteen of which is as a governance consultant for more than 200 organisations in two dozen countries, I have seen rogue boards encounter the perfect storm only six times. That’s only 3%. It’s rare, but you might be surprised how often the elements that make up this unusual situation appear in otherwise normal organisations. Take a look at the seven elements that can result in a rogue board encountering the perfect storm. Then compare these elements with what you are experiencing to assess where your board is heading.
The common characteristic of all these encounters is an abuse of power that is designed to achieve an outcome that results in one person or group within the organisation having more power than is appropriate in a healthy not-for-profit organisation. It may be encountered in the relationship between the CEO and the Board, the Board Chair and the Board, a Committee and the Board, a Committee and the Membership, the Board and the Membership, and several others. Read more