Building the relationships between Emerging Leaders & Boards: The first step is to join a few.

Posted on August 26, 2008. Filed under: Nonprofit Boards | Tags: , , , |

I have had a lot of interest in blogging about boards lately, and have been particularly curious about the relationships many boards have with emerging leaders, and the other way around.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will be blogging about ways emerging leaders can get more involved in nonprofit boards, why it is important, and ways nonprofit boards can recruit and retain emerging leaders.

The first, most important piece of the emerging leader/nonprofit board relationship puzzle, is actually serving on boards.

Our work team had a long meeting yesterday to discuss the new leadership trainings we will be holding in the upcoming years, including one for emerging leaders.  In each of the trainings part of the core is learning more effective governance practices.  For emerging leaders it was brought up that they don’t necessarily work with their boards on a regular basis, so how can they learn the skills they need to work with a board in the future, now?

They should join a board.

On the NP2020 blog a while ago, Nicole mentioned four things boards can do for you, including provide you with the opportunity to develop specific skills; the ability to serve a mission closest to your heart; the chance to learn from a skilled director and/or staff; and the opportunity to be part of a great team and build relationships.  These are all important skills needed for your future career.

Serving on a board also gives you the opportunity to develop the skills you will need later to work with the board in your current organization or in any other organization you lead in.  From working on a board you will learn the ins-and-outs of how boards function relationally; how good meetings look; what policies work and don’t work; what committee structures work best; and so on.

Right now, I serve on two different boards, both membership organizations.  I am getting the chance to develop the skills Nicole mentioned before, but have not yet gotten the chance to compare what types of policies, committees, meetings work for what types of organizations.  The challenge for many young nonprofit professionals is to find various board roles that will allow them insight into how different kinds of organizations function in particular situations.

Serving on the board of a couple different nonprofit organizations provides you the chance to develop the skills you need for a sustainable career in the nonprofit community.

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2 Responses to “Building the relationships between Emerging Leaders & Boards: The first step is to join a few.”

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I went through the project blueprint program http://www.waybetterunitedway.org/program-pb.php and thought that they would find some board for me to sit on. Fail. No one called or anything. I guess I have to go seek out opportunities? Do you think you have to be in an organization for some time before you can be a part of a board?

I have heard of this happening before with this program. They do now have something called Board Connect on the Heart of West Michigan United Way website: http://www.volunteersolutions.org/hwmuw/org/board/dir-all.html.

I don’t think you necessarily have to be with an organization long to be on their board. It is about making a connection with a staff person their, they can keep you up on opportunities, or maybe just volunteering for the organization. It is hard to know what a board will expect when looking for new members, but making the first connection is what matters.


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