"Like a well-played symphony, when nonprofit leaders partner well with their staff and volunteers, magic happens. Leadership & Partnership in the nonprofit sector:"
Shared leadership can catch new leaders off guard.
In this Part Two post from “Seven Ways New Non-Profit Leaders Succeed The First Year on the Job," – co-authored with Jolene Knapp and Alan Davis, another Ideas for Action, LLC colleague, we offer solutions for nurturing a successful partnership. Part One of the series recommended first steps of CEO listening and communicating with the specific titles of:
- Listen to learn
- Communicate, and communicate again
Below, we share details and links to resources on setting the leadership agenda as well as finding your rhythm with a new board chair or council president, as well as educating and encouraging volunteers.
3. Set a Leadership Agenda
When things go wrong between CEOs and their boards, it’s often the result of a failure to reach a common understanding of what constitutes success. Co-create the new leadership agenda. One of the best tools we’ve seen is a simple but powerful template for articulating priorities and goals for the next 18 months, including the respective roles of the new leader, board, and senior staff in achieving them. (See the Sample Leadership Agenda in this article from the Bridgespan Group.)
Do not overcommit yourself or your staff. Leaders, members, and other stakeholders are excited about a new CEO; they want projects or tasks implemented that may have been pending for a while or they have new ideas.
Establish a pattern of having strategic conversations with the board that set clear expectations about goals, roles, and ways to assess progress. In addition, it is important to assure that the chair/president is passing along information to the rest of the board.
4. Establish a Rhythm for Building Shared Leadership with the Board Chair
In the complex world of governance, it’s important to find a communication pattern that builds solid leadership connection in your organization. One CEO we consulted said that in preparation for each new governance year, she facilitated an off-site leadership transition retreat with the incoming president, immediate past president, and new president-elect. (This will vary with the size and culture of your board.) In a private and relaxed setting, the goal was to orient the president-elect to current challenges, provide deep background on strategic priorities, and co-create a shared leadership vision for the year.
Related posts by Deb on Non-Profit Leadership in this series:
Related posts by Deb on Strategy and Change: