Since it is the start of the year, many organizations have new board chairs coming onboard or are preparing for a spring change in board leadership. The board chair or president is a key leadership role and is essential for growth within the organization. But we have found many board members are a bit (or a lot) anxious about stepping into this role.
So, how can you help the new or potential board president be prepared for their role?
First, review the job description for the position to ensure it remains accurate and relevant. While reviewing the job description the candidate, it may be helpful to spend some time going over the mission statement, the programs, services, challenges, and strengths of the organization. We all feel more secure when we are equipped with the knowledge to do what is being requested of us.
Encourage the candidate to map out time in their schedule so the position doesn’t take too much of their time. Perhaps, they need to spend an hour each week doing work for the organization; be honest about the time requirement so the new board chair does not become frustrated or disillusioned. Note, in the case of new nonprofits or working boards, it is highly likely that the board chair will spend significant amounts of time serving in the organization.
The Executive Director and current board chair should meet with the candidate to discuss the following:
- The expectations of the board president
- The working relationship between the board president and the Executive Director
- Their vision for the organization
- Trends/issues/challenges impacting the work of the organization
- Financial information
- Strategic plan
In addition, it may also be helpful for the new board president to meet with the current or past board chair alone. This meeting will allow the current board chair to be completely honest about challenging issues/discussions throughout their term, any unfinished business, as well as any relationship issues that the new leader needs to be aware of.
The new board chair can also spend some time with each board member to discuss why they joined the board, why the organization is important to them, how they feel about their role on the board and how you, as the leader can support them.
Preparing the board chair for their role as leader of the organization helps to ensure continuity of operations within the board of directors.
Leading the board of directors of a nonprofit or ministry does not have to be overwhelming or anxiety producing. Implement a transition process to ensure the transition is smooth.
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