According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 1.5 million nonprofits in existence in the United States. Most of them will undergo a leadership change at the board level in 2015. A great many of them will experience a change with their chief elected officer. How many of them will have a chief elected officer that is looking to make their “mark” on the association with new goals?
Volunteer leaders sometimes mistakenly believe that their goals for the year help to move the organization forward. The problem is, many organizations also have a three-to-five year strategic plan. What happens when the organization is moving forward in its strategic plan and then is derailed by the “goals” of the incoming chief elected officer? Obviously, there are too many goals and not in line with the full board and the current strategic plan. Imagine this happens every year! Goals balloon and staff morale deflates.
Rather than set the stage for the chief elected officer to set personal goals to ensure their legacy is intact, work together to help them build a meaningful Presidential Platform? What should be considered:
Orientation –The singular most important element of a great board is ongoing governance training. Governance training helps to set the stage around fiduciary roles and specifically around the importance of an ongoing strategic roadmap, the strategic plan. Every chief elected officer will learn of its importance and place in the organization
Plan Champion – During the strategic planning process, ensure a primer is provided on what strategic planning is and the roles of the volunteer leaders. In any plan that is conducted, we recommend introducing the concept of the chief elected officer as the Plan Champion. This sets the expectation from year-to-year for your chief elected officer that they are stewards of the current strategic plan and moving it forward
Presidential Platform– It is an exciting time for your chief elected officer to take on the ultimate leadership role in the organization. Making a mark is important and can be done effectively and provide for great enjoyment during their term without derailing the strategic plan. The Presidential Platform captures their major initiatives to drive forward but not in conflict with current strategic goals. Here is one example:
As your president, I will support and move forward the organization’s strategic plan, its commitment to diversity, its mission and continued operational excellence in order to impact our profession and the members we serve
Someone in your organization needs to have the authority to say to the other leaders, “what we have been doing isn’t in line with the organization’s strategic plan – and we need to fix that.” Is this your chief elected officer as the Plan Champion? Do they bring fortha platform that drives forward the organization and doesn’t lead it astray? Building a platform for the future provides fulfillment not only for your chief elected officer but also for the other board leaders as well as staff. What is your chief elected officer’s platform for 2015?