Insights from Starboard: Board Chair Companion

We are happy to share what we learn, and we do this as workshop instructors, by developing curriculum for the Maine Association of Nonprofits and individual clients, and by offering advice on our Starboard blog. Take a look. You just might find the guidance you need!

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When it comes to the chief executive’s job satisfaction, the board chair matters

  In one of my early blog postings in this series, “The Board Chair’s Job Description,” I made the point that it is one of the board chair’s key responsibilities to “manage the board’s partnership and employment relationship with the chief executive.” While managing the “employment relationship” is an essential administrative task, it is just …
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The functions of governance, leadership, and management

When we try to describe for board members the differing roles of the board and the chief executive, we tend to start with a couple of “don’ts,” as in: don’t try to direct the work of the staff, and don’t try to manage the day-to-day operations. Or we pull out the BoardSource list of the …
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Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure

A year ago I had a call from a board chair who said, “We’re stuck.” As it turned out, they had a set of parliamentary procedures in place (as well as a “first parliamentarian” and a “second parliamentarian”) that had tied them up in knots. They were literally stuck and unable to move forward or …
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How much should the board chair talk?

During a board meeting, the chair plays several roles, including master of ceremonies, facilitator, moderator, and participant. It is with the last of these that there can be confusion. More than once I’ve heard board chairs say, “I’m not sure if it is appropriate for me to talk now.” The short answer is, “It is.” …
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Encourage healthy debate and discussion in meetings

As someone who tends to avoid conflict, I’ll admit that I came slowly to the concept that debate and discussion should be considered a healthy part of board meetings. Having been both a chief executive and a board chair, I know that life is easier when a board marches in lockstep through meetings, happily nodding …
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Dealing with your board’s “devil’s advocate”

Most boards have one—the board member who always seems ready to offer a counter-argument, point out possible flaws in any plan, and challenge the group’s decision. Often described by chief executives as “our problem board member,” these “problems” might actually be fulfilling an important role on your board. In October of 1962, facing what would …
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