Board of Directors: Is Your CEO Tanking Your Group?

posted on October 2, 2019

Board of directors for nonprofit organizations have a responsibility to their charity. But, sometimes, leaders think their priority is the CEO. Yet, this not the case. There are several core obligations for nonprofit boards, which include the following:

  1. Duty of Care: What this means is that board leaders have to take part in the nonprofit actively.
  2. Duty of Loyalty: Means board of directors have to keep the organization as a priority and not any personal interest.
  3. And, Duty of Obedience: This means that boards are responsible for ensuring compliance for all laws.

But, many nonprofits in the country survive and do not thrive. Many times it’s because of poor leadership within the nonprofit. However, while this article is about CEOs, boards also bear responsibility for themselves.

Board leaders have a responsibility to always look at the work of the CEO. Above all, one of the first places to begin is to review the success of the executive director. In sum, in today’s competitive nonprofit sector, nonprofit boards have to seek leaders who will grow an organization. All nonprofits require innovative leaders who think out of the box. So, if you suspect you might not have a nonprofit director, take action. You should reconsider and reassess the performance of your top executive.

Chaos makes a decision for a board of directors easy

One of the simplest things you will see in a nonprofit that is not well managed is chaos. And, even as a board member, who focuses on strategy, you’ll be aware of turmoil. For instance, one of the telltale signs is when your CEO makes plans that never quite seem to take off. In other words, there’s a lot of talk, but the results are not present to a significant degree. How can you counter this to flush out an executive director who is incompetent? In sum, the best thing you can do is request measurable metrics for programs and fundraising.

Team members are speaking up about, and it’s becoming toxic

When an executive director is in over his or her head, conditions within the nonprofit can become toxic. It is a major problem for any board of directors. But, as a matter of obligation for the board and it’s future, complaints have to be addressed. When there is a power vacuum because of a lack of respect of the CEO or incompetence, people begin to get into groups. In other words, they seek ways to mitigate what they see as a problem. So, if you have anyone on the staff complain, it’s essential to take those words seriously.

Mediocrity seeps itself to the board level

Another sign that rises to the board of an executive director who is not up for the job is mediocrity. Good leadership is a tool against mediocrity. But, when you see mediocrity and ineffectiveness, including at the board, that’s a warning sign. An excellent and savvy CEO will know how to manage a board. Yes, board members do need management. But, when managers don’t know how to lead, average ideas and decisions will permeate your nonprofit. And, mediocrity means it’s a massive opportunity for another charity.

Denial becomes a big part of your nonprofit organization

One of the telltale signs of an organization in trouble is when there is a lot of contradictions. Too often, ineffective nonprofit boards don’t want to deal with evaluating their options. That’s even more true with an executive director who is not doing well. And, the reason for this truism is simple. Boards hire nonprofit CEOs. And, a poor selection is a reflection on them. But, denying that someone interviewed well, looked great on paper, or was celebrated in a more junior position is not a long-term strategy. Instead, acknowledging that someone may not be working out is the best strategy. Facing reality will also win your board credit from workers and even from your donors if they know what’s happening.

Regret is not a value for your board of directors

Finally, many people who join boards remain with organizations for years. It’s not uncommon for someone to serve as a member of the board of directors for six, nine, or more years. It’s important for board members to remain in place over the years for the sake of consistency. So, one of the things that can happen when a board allows a CEO to stay in a position for which he or she is not suited is regret. And, in turn, that takes a toll on the psyche of the group. Feelings of regret, resentment, and anger from staff or other board members for acting too late become normal. That’s never a good thing and detracts from the work and mission. So, as a board member, keep to your responsibility. Look out for the nonprofit––even when it means looking at the performance of the CEO.


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