Balancing your nonprofit Board to achieve synergy between members with explicit capabilities, experience and attributes is critical to survival. But today, recruiting these market-proven individuals takes far more than a tap on the shoulder.
The times, they are a-changin’ rasps Nobel prize winner Bob Dylan.
And, nowhere quite as definitively than in the Boardrooms of nonprofit enterprise across Australia.
Today, most Boards recognise that it’s crucial to continually assess the efficacy of their performance against set objectives and goals. They also know the importance of identifying governance weaknesses in the control, ethics and operations of the Board.
But it’s in filling gaps in the collective skills set that is creating big issues for some organisations. Finding new non-executive Directors who bring the right mix of skills and attributes to complete a strong, well balanced Board well equipped to meet the challenges of contemporary business, is not easy.
Only a couple of decades ago, most nonprofit Boards were comprised of good hearted volunteers so invested in a charity or mission that they gladly donated time and energy to further the organisational cause. Some were business people: others were not. But no-one really knew or cared what their ‘special’ skills were so long as they could play a part in the unsophisticated fund and support raising of the day.
But today, the skills and energies that a Board Member brings into the business are paramount. As traditional government funding is phased out, most nonprofit enterprises are looking for ways to replace those ‘easy’ funds, often with a sustainable source of (commercial) income.
So, as needs have rapidly altered, the face of the ‘typical’ nonprofit Board has also changed beyond recognition.
Increasing competition for the altruistic dollar, means that organisations now need the governance of dynamic, balanced Boards that offer clear vision, business acumen, diverse explicit skills, market proven experience and a willingness to champion the mission. Boards need to be able to offer expertise in all sorts of areas such as marketing and logistics, retail merchandising, training, manufacture and more.
Experts in change management, business transformation, IT and even global marketing are in demand.
And most progressive nonprofits are focusing attention on Chairs and Directors who embrace nonprofit culture and values but are also proven, sophisticated performers within the contemporary commercial sphere.
While that all makes an enormous amount of sense in view of the challenges faced by so many charitable enterprises, the obstinacy of some nonprofits in only recruiting their new Board Members via personal networks, does not.
Finding new Board Members is a complex, time consuming task that is best assigned to the experts.
Windsor Group is one such. Windsor brings a masterful understanding of the important skills, competencies, qualifications, education, influential qualities and experience that make a great Chair and drive a strong, equalised Board.
With the advantage of many years of experience working at top levels in mainstream and nonprofit business, Windsor can locate eminently suitable candidates for your Board by drawing talent from its government, community, commercial and social networks. We also have on file a sizeable data base of diverse and high-calibre candidates who have registered a keen interest in contributing their special expertise to NFP Boards.
Windsor Board advisory and selection services represent an extremely effective, low-cost alternative, that reduce risk for companies that may inadvertently create dysfunctional Boards through ill-advised appointments.
With Boards, the total is more powerful than its parts
No man or woman stands alone. Some companies fail to recognise that any Board is a cohesive, synergistic force where the total dynamic is more powerful than the sum of its parts. So, the linking of skills, knowledge and experience and the potential for inter relationships between Board Members is an area that untrained selectors are prone to underestimate.
Most Board recruitment is just for one or two members at a time. It’s unusual to have an opportunity to work from scratch; to stand back and objectively evaluate the skills, experience, chemistry, commitment, emotional and soft skills that could be aggregated on an ideal, beautifully balanced, brand new Board.
For Consultants, this does occasionally happen. And when it does, it reminds us of one huge pitfall just waiting for well-meaning Selection Committees.
What happens all too often, is this …
When numerous, qualified and high-value candidates vie for roles on a prestigious nonprofit Board, it’s too easy for selectors to honour their first instincts and go unerringly for the ‘stand-out’ candidates. And this is what existing Boards – generally untrained in candidate selection – tend to do.
They choose people whose characteristics they admire. Often, these are people who are very like they are. This is all very noble and well-intentioned but generally means the Board ends up with a short list that’s all about leaders but lacks supporters or drivers, innovators and strategists.
Of course, leadership qualities are of vital importance. But, to keep on track and avoid tension, Boards need people who are of different types. These might include movers, shakers, drivers, stabilisers, checkers, mediators, champions, moderators and more – individuals who each bring a unique edge to a harmonious, balanced, horizontal team formation.
Then, of course, there are the hard skills to consider along with the soft skills, fiscal capabilities, connections, commitment, time to invest, experience, achievement, personality, emotional quotients and references to all be checked and double checked.
Intending new members also need to be psychometrically tested, evaluated and weighed again the dynamic of the existing board and the precinct they’ll occupy.
And that is only some of the work which comes on top of the pragmatics demanded by advertising positions, processing applications, managing, interviewing, reviewing and reporting on candidates. Literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of work are required to ensure that the right new candidate is matched into an existing Board. Not too many Chairs can offer that type of time commitment these days!
So, recruiting non-executive Board members for nonprofit organisations is not a task for a busy Chair, amateur selector nor the faint hearted.
However, in line with its commitment to help build capacity in its client companies, Windsor provides expert advice, service and solutions to nonprofits seeking to locate and recruit new non-executive Directors to serve as Board Members and Chairs.