Have you ever noticed that unless you are really conscious, you tend to pick-up bad habits? For instance, maybe you eat healthy on a regular basis and one day decide to treat yourself to a dish of ice cream. Then, the next day you remember how good that ice cream was and decide to have another dish. Soon, you find yourself having ice cream every day and a bad habit has been born. Since boards are made up of people, it is easy for them to fall into bad habits unless special efforts are made to keep them out of the group. Be aware of the following three bad habits of boards; awareness will help the board avoid falling into the “bad habit trap.”
Bad Habit #1 – One of the biggest bad habits of nonprofit boards is board members who think that because they are board members they have the right to manage the day to day operations of the organization. These board members often get involved in staff supervision and micro-management of the organization. Left unchecked, this bad habit can lead to ongoing conflict with the executive director. If this habit exists in your organization, it is time to provide the board with education about board governance.
Bad Habit #2 – We all know the individual in any group who is consistently negative; talk by the negative person can become a problem when the topic of negativity is the board or the organization. Board members should be the biggest supporters or ambassadors for the organization. Board members should not discuss their concerns about the board, the executive director or other staff members, or the organization in public. Issues in any of these areas should be discussed, but they should be discussed confidentially within the board.
Bad Habit #3 – There are often board members who become promise keepers. In other words, they make promises to those outside the organization about things the organization will do. Then, they try to insist that the organization will fulfill those promises. Again, board members should understand that they cannot make promises on behalf of the organization.
What habits have you seen boards fall into and how was the habit broken?
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