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Valentine’s Day and Board Governance

February 13, 2012

The connection between Cupid and your not-for-profit board.

A week ago I Blogged (is this a real verb?) about the Super Bowl and its relationship to the not-for-profit organization. So, of course you were expecting me to find a connection between St. Valentine and not-for-profits. I will not disappoint my loyal reader. Actually, I can’t take all of the credit for this. It was my friends at Board Source who turned me onto the connection between Cupid and Board Governance.

Boards that work well, who govern their organizations properly are doing so because of the good relationships among board members and the good relationship between the board and the organization’s senior management. So that’s it! The secret to a good not-for-profit life is all in the relationships.

Good governance is a partnership between the Board and the senior management that has to implement the board’s strategic plan designed to achieve the organization’s mission and purpose. I’ve been involved in a few partnerships. Some were good and some were difficult. The good ones required a great deal of work to make them good and keep both parties happy. The difficult ones were tough and, although a sufficient amount of hard work may have made them work, the hard work had to be done by every party, not just some of the partners. So, I conclude that one of the foundations of a well-functioning board (and a good relationship) is that everyone is working toward the same objective and committed to expending the effort to make the relationship work. This will likely lead to good boardroom chemistry and we all can agree that chemistry is a key to good relationships.

Two of the challenges that I hear boards complain about most frequently are dealing with the troublesome board member and managing the difficult executive director, especially when that person is part of the organization’s founding group. Where to look for a part of the solution to these issues? Yes, start with creating a good relationship - one that exists beyond the business of the organization. Getting the board together socially (without significant others) is a task with a purpose and result that is well worth the time and cost involved. Doing the same thing with the executive director pays similar dividends. And don’t forget to build your relationship with your CPA as well!

I hope you all receive a number of Valentine cards this year – just like you did in elementary school. When you do, think of all of the relationships in your life and commit to doing something at your next meeting to improve each of those relationships.

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