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How to Achieve a Common Vision between the Board and Staff

  • 26th Aug'22

Are the members of your board and staff playing tug-of-war nonstop?
Is there such a chasm between your board and employees that it almost seems like you are on different planets? Are you actively looking for approaches to include your leadership with a quantifiable and significant impact?
Whether you are a member of the governing board or paid staff, today's topic is intended to provide practical advice to align the board and employees. It’s all about recognizing a problem before you can "prepare for positive change."


A Look at Notable Facts About Nonprofits


1. Nonprofits are businesses 

The fact that an organization is "purpose-driven" and free from paying taxes does not give its leadership the right to disregard fundamental business rules. The organization is frequently run more like a "club" or "project" by the founders, boards, and even workers than like a successful company. The leadership of a charity is accountable for goal-setting, planning, assuring deliverables, and managing resources, just like the board and CEO of a for-profit organization. The ability of the organization to operate at its full potential and accomplish its objective is hampered by neglecting the governance and management side of the "enterprise."


2. Roles and responsibilities are not clear 

As businesses expand and change, leadership can become muddled. Depending on the stage of development of the organization, different board roles and responsibilities apply. (Governing board, working board, and charter board.) Based on board dynamics, financial conditions, and employee skill sets, expectations for the executive director frequently change. Unfortunately, the culture of charity organizations sometimes rewards leaders who "wear a million different hats," which often results in confusion, conflict, and stress. Uncertain roles and responsibilities are also a result of frequent leadership changes.


3. Moving targets can make accountability a myth 

The board's responsibilities include writing an executive director job description, setting goals, assessing performance, and confirming competitive pay. When executive directors are working without actual job definitions and professional agreements, the latter tasks become nearly impossible. Over the past ten years, a plethora of studies has found that more than half of nonprofit board members are "inactive." Gaining the trust and respect of the community they serve is difficult when boards don't hold themselves and the executive director accountable.


4. Strategic planning is not prioritized

Negative norms like functioning in crisis mode, survival mode, or confusion mode are influenced by reactive as opposed to proactive leadership. How can nonprofit board leaders reverse dysfunctional patterns and align their staff and board? There isn't "one magic thing" that a company can do to develop a strong leadership team. The board and staff can, however, take a number of deliberate actions to bring about clarity, encourage unification, and produce a high-performance board.


The 3 best ways to get your board and staff on the same page


1. Don't forget the basics

Leadership must set aside time to "evaluate the foundation," regardless of the stage your organization is in. An inspection is necessary whenever a house is built, goes through a significant renovation, or is sold. It does not guarantee that a house's foundation, even if it was built on a strong one, has not deteriorated over time.
The same idea applies to organizations that have survived shifts in the community, in leadership, and in the availability of resources. Leadership may take the following into account when evaluating the organization's base:

  • Legal compliance

  • Vision

  • Mission


 2. Prioritize leadership 

It suffices to say that a company's leadership determines how strong it is. Don’t let leadership development become a secondary concern. Organizations must have standardized procedures to figure out:

  • What knowledge and abilities does our organization need to accomplish its objectives and overcome obstacles?

  • How will we find and hire capable leadership candidates?

  • What are the current work responsibilities and standards for each leadership position?

  • What procedures are in place to guarantee accountability?

Lastly, it is crucial to take into account how effectively the leadership comprehends the community they serve. While some leaders may come from the grassroots, others may have all the necessary skills but be disconnected.


3. Plan and think strategically

Engaging decision-makers in an efficient strategic planning process is the best approach to bringing the board and employees together. The most effective strategic planning procedures guide the team through a sequence of focused talks intended to accomplish the following:

  • Establish where the organization stands now in order to clarify current realities.

  • Create a short-term vision and agree on it (for instance, a plan might concentrate on "the next 3-5 years").

  • Set measurable goals and objectives to define what success will look like.

  • Set goals by verifying deadlines and benchmarks

  • To guarantee continuous accountability, assign strategic accomplishments to the appropriate team member or committee.

  • Decide on a course of action and carry it out to maintain the momentum

  • A strategic plan has limitations if the process doesn't involve the correct individuals, set measures to maintain the plan's relevance and validate consensus.

  • Plans should be "living documents," which require leadership to act proactively and change as necessary.

In the end, it takes continual commitment, preparation, and communication to align the board and staff. A successful and long-lasting organization may be able to flourish with the help of a board that is well-qualified and unified.


Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds achieve their careers and life aspirations. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.


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