It’s not every day that I get to enjoy a chocolate egg cream this far west of Brooklyn, let alone enjoy the insight and practical philosophy of an expert who has helped a long list of nonprofit boards. But today was my chance to do both! I met with Dennis C. Miller, Executive Director of Center for Excellence in Leadership, Governance and Philanthropy at Farleigh Dickenson University. In addition to leading a center dedicated to nonprofit leadership, he is CEO of Reviatlizing Your Nonprofit Board, a nationally sought-after speaker, and helps a wide range of nonprofits unlock their boards’ true potential with his concept, “Strategic Alignment.”
So what exactly is Strategic Alignment–
and how do you know if your nonprofit board’s alignment is out of whack?
Does this scenario ring a bell? Your board enthusiastically begins to work on a new strategic plan, fueled by the excitement of high hopes, only to see it end in disappointment with a “plan” that sits on a shelf to collect dust. If so, your board’s alignment is definitely out of whack.
Strategic Alignment refers to, “… the process of aligning all the work of the leadership team, the board and its committees, to be singularly focused and committed to achieving one goal: the organziation’s vision.” The common problems that arise in the aforementioned scenario, are due to skipping some important steps/elements.
Don’t overlook these crucial elements:
- Upfront organizational assessment
- Inspiring vision
- Resource development plan
- Execution plan of action
VIDEO: Maybe your board won’t address the real problem? Check out this video– Is there a nail in your board?
Good Boards vs. Great Boards
Dennis says that “good boards evaluate their CEO, while great boards evaluate themselves.” In his book, The Power of Strategic Alignment, he points out that, “The overwhelming reason most nonprofit organizations fail is the result of not adequately addressing their internal issues and not because of their response to the changing envvironmental landscape of the sector….An organization needs to henestly address both challenges, internal and external, in order to be in Strategic Alignment.” Common internal issues:
- lack of trust
- lack of respect
- stale programs
- “bored” board members
- outdated leadership skill sets
We’re delighted to announce that we’ll be bringing you more useful advice from Dennis in the coming months. You can connect with him on Linkedin or find out more about his work on his website. How about your board? Do you have a board question you’d like Dennis to answer? Share your thoughts and questions below!