Making the connection between governance and leadership

publication date: Aug 11, 2011
author/source: Lisa MacDonald

In the last few years, corporate scandal and the ensuing economic ruin for trusting investors has resulted in a high level of scrutiny of the boards ‘managing' the organizations in question.  The nonprofit sector is being held to a similar standard.  Fundraising transparency and accountability aren't just buzz words - they are a critical requirement for donor loyalty and trust. As a result, almost everyone acknowledges the importance of sound board governance.  At least in theory.  A new book, Governance as Leadership  - Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards tackles the difficult issue of how to make governance important in everyday practice. 

Four questions motivated authors, Richard  P. Chait, William P. Ryan and Barbara E. Taylor:

  1. Why is there so much rhetoric that touts the significance of nonprofit boards, but so much evidence that boards of trustees are only marginally relevant?
  2. Why are there so many "how-to-govern" handbooks and workshops, but such widespread disappointment with board performance?
  3. Why do nonprofit organizations go to such great lengths to recruit the best and brightest as trustees, but then permit them to languish collectively in an environment more intellectually inert than alive, with board members more disengaged than engrossed?
  4. Why has there been such a continuous flow of new ideas that have changed views about organizations and leadership but no substantial reconceptualization of nonprofit governance?

In the end, the authors concluded that there is a disconnect between governance and leadership.  Nonprofits have organizational leaders and volunteer trustees.  The former lead, the latter govern.  This book offers a perspective that entwines the two:  governance as leadership.

All three authors of the book are students of governance, consultants to boards and trustees of nonprofit organizations.  They also, at one time or another, worked as full-time administrators in not-for-profit institutions. Their experiences allow them to explore governance from several angles and address the interests and concerns of people in all four of these roles.

But more importantly, if you want to understand governance, not just do governance.  If you want new thinking beyond simple recipes for better trusteeship and if you are underwhelmed by governance advice du jour (place the mission statement on the back of trustee business cards) then this may be the book for you.

Don't delay, order your copy of Governance as Leadership - Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards for $71.99. 

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