Leadership – Key to a Successful Nonprofit

Strong and committed leadership is the difference between a good nonprofit and a great nonprofit.   Formidable leadership starts with a board of directors who understand and accept their roles and responsibilities and give generously of their time, talent and treasure. Great boards consist of carefully selected teams of dedicated individuals with a deep passion and dedication to the mission of the agency and the willingness to create and implement a powerful vision for the future.    

One of the most important board roles is to hire a visionary, strategic and passionate professional Executive Director.  The successful Executive Director reports to the engaged and dedicated board and manages operations, programs and staff, raises money, builds relationships and advocates on behalf of the organization.  

Together the board and Executive Director create a compelling strategic plan with specific goals,  objectives, and timelines. Annually, board members evaluate their performance as well as that of the Executive Director, based upon specific and agreed upon criteria.  If board members or Executive Directors are not meeting goals, it is incumbent upon the Chair to meet to discuss their concerns and propose solutions. It is often said that a failing nonprofit is not the fault of the Executive Director but that of the board.

While the board has fiduciary responsibility for governance, fundraising, advocacy, strategic planning and oversight and support of the Executive Director, the Executive Director is responsible for the day to day operations of the organization.  This is an ongoing dance of communication and collaboration to ensure that everything runs smoothly.  

Annual evaluations provide clarity around the strengths and weaknesses in the existing board and Executive.  Are talents and skills missing?  Does the organization’s leadership reflect diversity?  Would the agency be better served with more financial acumen; individuals able to access influence and affluence;  public relations experience; legal or policy expertise?  As part of your vision for the next year and three years out, identify individuals to cultivate and recruit for the future. Provide professional development opportunities to address deficits.

Leadership reflects authenticity, integrity, intelligence, and good judgment.  Organizations with an intentional focus on enhancing leadership are the most successful in fulfilling their mission and service.

On  September 13th, Armstrong McGuire is facilitating a panel at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits Annual Conference.  The talented panelists include Darryl Lester, President Hindsight Consulting;  Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, Presidente/CEO of El Centro Hispano (Triangle);  Charrise Hart, Executive Director of the YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear (Wilmington); and Barrett Joyner, consultant and previous Director of Developing at Healing Place in Raleigh.  The title of the session is The Only Constant is Change and Staff is Going to Change.  Be Ready for Leadership Transition.  Please join us at 10:45, September 13 as we discuss building strong leadership for the future.

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