If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck … guess what?
Well, I hope you know by now.
As a former Development Executive, I was acutely aware of the role of the Board, and I was a staunch supporter of their role versus mine. According to the “handbook,” charitable Board members are responsible for organizational strategic direction and financial oversight as well as general management of the CEO/ED. Yet there were times when I wanted the Board to become more involved – to question, to check in, and look under the hood a little more closely.
I recall when I was working as the senior development staff, (not the organizational CEO/ED), an insightful Board Member with whom I enjoyed a very sincere relationship, called me up – seemingly out of the blue and simply checked- in, asking me how things were going at the organization. A part of me was nervous. I felt they were fishing for information about the CEO. I responded favorably, and always questioned the point of that phone call. That CEO announced their departure a few months later.
Fast forward a few years. A seemingly kind, personable, and capable CEO, had stepped in. It was not long before I witnessed unethical behaviors and poor leadership qualities that included the CEO gossiping about staff and even board members to me, sharing information that I did not want or need to know.
This same CEO never once made their own charitable donation to the charity – yet always hinted that their name should be included on the donor wall. They hired their friends as consultants and staff at outrageous costs. They demonstrated an extremely poor work ethic and chaotic management abilities; staff termed it as the “spray and pray” style. They leaned on others to write their emails, organize agendas, and even tell them what to write in greeting cards because they were so disconnected from one donor to another. The passive-aggressive manipulation and the smoke and mirrors of the CEO had me wishing and praying for that phone call from a board member who just wanted to check-in.
It never happened, they had checked-out and were disillusioned and manipulated by, you guessed it, THE DUCK.
Behaviours to look for and questions to ask
Board Members – if you are seeing these behaviours – it’s time to check in with the staff and get clear answers.
Remember, Board members are attaching their personal name, brand, and identity to the organization, so transparency and their connection to the organization’s integrity need to be taken seriously.
I still support that Board members should not be directly involved in the day-to-day activities or the operations of the organization but, it’s also okay to check in a little more closely from time to time, especially if you are seeing red flags.
As the youngest of 13, Cindy Carson is a self-professed relationship negotiations expert and survivalist. Having worked as a Fundraising Development Executive in a wide range of fields from healthcare, arts, and environmental causes, Carson’s 23 years of leadership experience in the charitable sector has led to some pretty interesting stories and email@example.com