Category Archives: Leadership

Nonprofit Board Accountability

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

Board accountability is always an issue in the nonprofit world. Dr. Eugene Fram, Emeritus Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology has written a terrific article that is spot on!! 

“Clearly the purpose of a nonprofit board is to serve the constituency that establishes it—be it community, industry, governmental unit and the like. That said, the “how” to best deliver those services is often not so clear.

An executive committee, for example, can overstep its authority by assuming powers beyond its scope of responsibility. I encountered this in one executive committee when the group developed a strategic plan in an interim period where there was no permanent ED. The board then refused to share it with the incoming executive. In another instance, an executive committee took it upon itself to appoint members of the audit committee—including outsiders who were unknown to the majority on the board.

The fuzziness of boundaries and lack of defined authority call for an active nonprofit system of checks and balances. For a variety of reasons this is difficult for nonprofits to achieve:

  • A typical nonprofit board member is often recruited from a pool of friends, relatives and colleagues, and will serve, on a median average, for four to six years.   This makes it difficult to achieve rigorous debate at meetings (why risk conflicts with board colleagues?). Directors also are not as eager to thoughtfully plan for change beyond the limits of their terms. Besides discussing day-to-day issues, the board needs to make sure that immediate gains do not hamper long-term sustainability.
  • The culture of micromanagement is frequently a remnant from the early startup years when board members may have performed operational duties. In some boards it becomes embedded in the culture and continues to pervade the governmental environment, allowing the board and executive committee to involve themselves in areas that should be delegated to management
  • The executive team is a broad partnership of peers–board members, those appointed to the executive committee and the CEO. The executive committee is legally responsible to act for the board between meetings–the board must ratify its decisions. But unchecked, the executive committee can assume dictatorial powers whose conclusions must be rubber-stamped by the board.

Mitigating Oversight Barriers: There is often little individual board members can do to change the course when the DNA has become embedded in the organization. The tradition of micromanagement, for example, is hard to reverse, especially when the culture is continually supported by a succession of like-minded board chairs and CEOs. No single board member can move these barriers given the brevity of the board terms. But there are a few initiatives that three or four directors, working in tandem, can take to move the organization into a high-performance category.

  • Meetings: At the top of every meeting agenda there needs to be listed at least one policy or strategy related item. When the board discussion begins to wander, the chair should remind the group that they are encroaching on an area that is management’s responsibility. One board I observed wasted an hour’s time because the chair had failed to intercept the conversation in this manner. Another board agreed to change its timing of a major development event, then spent valuable meeting time suggesting formats for the new event—clearly a management responsibility to develop.
  • “New Age” Board Members: While millennial managers are causing consternation in some nonprofit and business organizations, certain changes in nonprofits are noteworthy. Those directors in the 40- and- under age bracket need some targeted nurturing. I encountered a new young person who energized the board with her eagerness to try innovative development approaches. She was subsequently appointed to the executive committee, deepening her view of the organization and priming her for senior leadership.Board members who understand the robust responsibilities of a 21st century board need to accept responsibilities for mentoring these new age board people, despite their addictions to their electronic devices.
  • Experienced Board Members: Directors that have served on other high-performance boards have the advantage of being familiar with modern governance processes and are comfortable in supporting change. They are needed to help boards, executive committees and CEOs to move beyond the comfortable bounds of the past. They will be difficult to recruit, but they are required ingredients for successful boards.’

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Moving to the Next Stage of New Normal for Nonprofits

David Coffaro

There is uncertainty about exactly what follows the Covid-19 crisis phase in our daily lives, our business and the economy. Discomfort often accompanies uncertainty and may draw our thoughts to the days when everything seemed so normal.

Ironically, what we perceived as normal in the past was simply a point on a continuum of change to which we became accustomed; with the Covid-19 pandemic, the rate of change accelerated dramatically. The question for leaders today is – what comes next?

The next stage of new normal awaits being written. The economy is an aggregation of individual and organizational actions aligned with some set of objectives. Following systemic shocks, some organizations wait until after the dust settles to interpret and take actions toward a new normal. An alternate approach is to begin defining a new normal for your nonprofit organization now. Here are five ideas on how to begin defining your organization’s next stage of new normal today:

  • Recast a Rolling Quarterly Strategic Plan – Operating plans established at the beginning of fiscal 2020 have been rendered irrelevant. Economic recovery will range from gradual in some sectors to accelerated in others, and this translates to nonprofits as well. Take a strategic approach to recasting plans by revisiting the organization’s vision, then deconstructing objectives into a new set of priorities and actions starting from today’s adjusted baseline. Initially set sights on results through year-end 2021, distilled into six quarterly milestones, adjusting subsequent quarterly expectations as the economy moves toward a new normal.
  • Intentional Discontinuation – Many organizations have reduced activities to business-critical operations only. Before assuming reactivation of all previous normal activities, take inventory of what resource investments no longer serve the organization’s mission. This means identifying activities, processes or services that can be permanently eliminated. By exploring questions about which activities have outlived their usefulness, nonprofit leaders can free-up capacity to apply more impactfully in the next new normal. 
  • New Services or Offerings – What new needs has your organization observed with those you serve during the crisis phase that may be of benefit in a new normal? Throughout history, new ideas and offerings have emerged from extraordinary environments. During World War I, to help soldiers avoid being distracted by their pocket watches, manufacturers began attaching straps to the watch faces they produced. The idea wasn’t new, but demand for wearable timepieces grew significantly following the war allowing forward-thinking manufactures a meaningful long-term growth opportunity. What needs have surfaced that may warrant the attention of your organization?   
  • Adaptive Disruption to Capture Transformational Opportunities – The COVID-19 event proves there are many sources of disruption impacting nonprofit organizations. Leaders can use this unfortunate disruptor to examine their business models and reimagine their operating paradigms. 
  • Development Opportunities – Leaders learned about efficacy of business continuations plans through the Covid-19 crisis phase. They also observed strengths and developmental needs of teams and their members as the nature of engagement and operations adapted quickly during crisis. How can you use these observations and learnings to build a long-term development plan for your organization?    

The next new normal is being defined today. This is the time to develop your plan on how your organization will navigate its’ next chapter.

NOTE: This article is based on Moving to the Next Stage of New Normal by Dave Coffaro, published in SmartBrief on Leadership, April 20, 2020.

Dave Coffaro is a strategic advisor, executive coach and author. His areas of expertise include leading organizations in the process of strategy development and execution, change leadership, organization transformation and innovation. Coffaro is principal of the Strategic Advisory Consulting Group, a management consultancy, and co-founder of Atticus, a fintech firm providing individuals and professional advisors with easy to use, do-it-yourself tools for fiduciary-based activities. His new book is “Leading from Where You Are” (January 2020). For more information, visit Coffaro’s website. 

Author: David Coffaro, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Remote Leadership

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

As you navigate the the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 storm and its impact on your organization, it is essential that you develop remote leadership skills

My colleague, Dr. Alex Abramin, Leadership coach and an Organizational Psychologist from LA writes a terrific article on remote leading. “With everyone transitioning current business processes into the virtual world, managing teams virtually can be relatively new and challenging for some leaders.

For those with experience managing teams virtually, this is a nice refresher and reminder. Through my research, I’m pulling information that could shed some light and provide guidance for those who may be experiencing challenges engaging and managing their teams virtually.

We are aware that virtual teams can be more challenging to lead, so keep in mind that in order to effectively lead your team, you’re going to have to spend more time and effort toward these recommendations below. The time you use to implement these will immediately be noticed, recognized, and appreciated by your team. 

1. Embody Respect

Through the midst of challenging times, we must remember to respect one another and still hear the voice of your team members. Try to make some time in your virtual meetings to ask questions and gather opinions from the people on your team. Expressing their opinion is a way for them to stay engaged and be heard. This creates a form a of mutual respect. Take more time than you used to to hear your team’s opinions.

2. Engage in Positive Predictable Behavior

As individuals, we tend to have some level of resistance to change. In order to reduce some of that resistance, it’s important to institute some predictable behavior so that there’s some sense of structure or norm in the midst of change. When working virtually, this can mean being early or on time when leading your meetings; checking in with your team on a personal level before every meeting; asking each person to share gratitude moments before the meeting begins; or honoring the commitments you’ve made or at least addressing them. 

3. Apply Positive Intent

There are times that our judgment and bias can kick in while working with others, and when working virtually, this can enhance those challenges. There’s a lot more room for misinterpretation when working virtually, so here’s what you can do to alleviate those judgements and biases. For example, when reading an email, notice your emotional and physical reaction. Take a step back to see the perspective they are coming from. Take a deep breath or even walk away for a minute to drink a glass of water. Come back with a fresh perspective and ask for clarification through phone or video-chat. It’s better to hear from the individual rather than misinterpret an email or message with assumptions.

4. Be Present

When working from home or remotely, there are constant reminders and distractions among us. It’s important to model the behavior of being present during virtual meetings. This means being off your cellphone and disregarding other notifications and emails that are coming in. Notice and mention facial expressions on camera or tones of voice through audio. Show your team that you are just as engaged as you were while working in the office. 

5. Contribution

Be clear on what the team’s goal is at the beginning of the meeting so that your team knows what you are all working towards. After establishing the team’s goal, build clarity throughout the meeting on everyone’s role and expectations that contribute to the success of the team’s goal. Your team wants to know that they are taking part in contributing to the whole rather than just feeling like a cog in the machine. 

6. Establish Regular Meeting Times

During times of change, establishing routine is important. As much as employees appreciate autonomy, we tend to like some form of structure when it comes to our teams and work we produce. With working virtually, meetings need to be more established so that employees know what’s expected of them. To enhance this further, asking your team for input on the agenda of the meeting can create more engagement. This way you’re creating an open forum space while also setting the tone for the meeting to come. 

7. Revive Engagement Rules 

Being clear about the “ground rules” might seem obvious, but when working virtually it can be a helpful reminder of what to expect from your team. Be clear and concise, whether it’s being dressed appropriately; waiting to share your opinion; being respectful of everyone in the room; or asking for honest feedback. 

8. Use Visual Forms of Communication

Technology has improved drastically over the years to help us with making virtual interactions more engaging and effective. Meaning that we can utilize more visual forms of communication rather than just video conferencing. We can share documents, screens, videos, use polling features, create breakout rooms, and more. When working on projects that require some ideation and collaboration, try using breakout rooms so have team members engage in smaller groups and come back with options for an even greater solution. Using different forms of communication during virtual times keeps the team engaged and interested in what’s to come next.

9. Agree on use of technology and platforms for collaboration

With having many forms to technology around us, we tend to have access to multiple communication platforms. Bring this up to your team and ask for input on what platform options would be most effective for efficient communication and collaboration. Examples of platforms consist of Slack, WhatsApp, Jabber, WebEx, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and others. Gather opinions from the team, assess the pros and cons, and commit to specific platforms so there’s more clarity and less confusion.  

10. Ask for Feedback

As leaders, we feel as though we need to have all the answers. In reality, that’s not the case. Some of us are not familiar with leading virtual teams or meetings. It’s okay to admit that. This is a time where we are all learning to appreciate and utilize technology. Be open, transparent and honest about it. Ask your team for feedback on how we can improve working virtually. Ask your team what support they need. It creates a sense of vulnerability and comfort know that they can come to you with their thoughts or ideas. 

11. Be Available and Share it

It’s hard to establish an open-door policy when there’s no actual door. Be more clear about when you’re available and how. Your team wants to know when they can reach you. Leaving your availability vague or up in the air can create discomfort and uncertainty for some employees. Employees want to be able to know how to reach you when they need support. In your next meeting, share some ways you’re available to them and how.

12. Follow-up

After every meeting, I highly recommend a follow-up email that shows what was discussed in the conversation as a way to show that you were present and engaged. As a leader, your employees want to know you are engaged. A follow-up email will provide them with clarity on expectations moving forward and your modeling positive predictable behavior by being present. Although follow-up emails can be time consuming, the benefits outweigh the effort. 

13. Encourage Informal Off-Line Conversations 

We need human interaction. When entering a virtual world, it can be a challenge for those who have never experienced it. We took our interactions with team members for granted. Now that we don’t have physical access to our team members like we used to, encourage your team to connect with one another outside of the regular meetings that are scheduled. Just because the team is working virtually doesn’t meant that you can’t have informal conversations like you used to. 

Just a reminder, these are all different practices of making virtual work more convenient and effective for all. Take this one step at a time and try a new method every week. You are not going to become a guru virtual leader overnight. These are options on how to improve and collaborate more effectively, virtually. 

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Leadership Qualities for the Crisis

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

How many of you are as sick as I am of hearing and seeing the words COVID-19.

I couldn’t even put it in this title. But it is affecting all of our lives – and each person differently. As quoted in an article I just read, “a paramedic will understand only that the hospital is overloaded, a hospital administrator will only know that the generator is not working.”[1]

I believe it is time to consider what leadership skills and qualities can best guide this situation. I will quote generously from an author, Gene Klann who has written a book on crisis management and is referenced in the article below.[2]

Klann cites 5 ways to lead and adapt to the crisis. I will briefly cover those:

  1. Seek credible information. I think this is difficult because there is so much information available. I believe it is important to check with staff and employees to see what information they are following. This is a good opportunity for leaders to calm, support and build a reassuring culture.
  2. Use appropriate communication channels. Of course transparency is of the utmost importance in a crisis. Klann has these points to stress: Information
    • reduces emotional distress caused by the unknown;
    • diminishes fear;
    • provides tactical guidance;
    • demonstrates to employees that their leaders are concerned, involved, knowledgeable, and on top of the situation.
  3. Explain what your organization is doing about the crisis. If you are in charge take charge, be proactive, take initiative. Do something even if it might be wrong. Paralysis and over analyzing may be riskier. 
  4. Be present, Visible, and Available. Let employees know how they can best reach you for status updates and any questions they may have. Flexible leadership ranks over organizational protocol and bureaucracy.                                                                                          

Dedicate organizational resources for future needs. Many organizations don’t take advantage of what they have learned after the crisis. This time is valuable to track lessons learned as a critical step to a Crisis Action Plan.                


[1][1] Gene Klann, 5 Ways to Lead and Adapt Through a Crisis, Center for Creative Leadership, March 24, 2020

[2] Gene Klann, Crisis Leadership, Using Military Lessons, Organizational Experiences, and the Power of Influence to Lessen the Impact of Chaos on the People You Lead.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Leading from Zero for Nonprofit Organizations

David Coffaro

These early days of the new decade are the perfect point to consider practicing the concept of Leading from Zero.  Perhaps a more familiar strategy is Zero Based Budgeting – the approach where each new budget cycle starts from a baseline of zero assumed recurring expenses.

No incremental expense increase over the prior period. Every dollar invested for existing or new activities stands on its own, justified in the current time period, not the past. The objective of Zero Based Budgeting is to assure manager accountability for expenses and the activities they fund to create value for the organization.

Leading from Zero is grounded in a similar principle. Every organization – nonprofit or for profit – starts its day from a base of zero. Zero customers. Zero donors. Zero employees. Zero volunteers. Zero revenue. Leaders must influence their organizations and earn relevance with customers, employees, volunteers, donors and other stakeholders daily. Organizations have no entitlement to customers, employees, volunteers, donors or revenue. They recognize that these stakeholders have free will and will only engage with an organization if its mission is relevant, its value proposition is clear and it continually delivers on both the mission and value proposition. Contracts exist, but in the long run, all agents (vendors, contractors, suppliers) are free agents.

Leading from Zero assumes:

  • Competition for the most valuable resources – human, intellectual, physical, economic, non-economic – is strong and will remain so into the foreseeable future
  • Barriers to entry in most sectors are malleable or nonexistent, therefore the potential for new competitors is high
  • Competitive advantages are temporary at best
  • Pricing and cost pressure are constant, coupled with an expectation of continually providing more to stakeholders

These assumptions place leaders in a position that requires a new paradigm for how they view their roles and further their organizations. This paradigm says that an organization must:

  • Differentiate itself as a resource development exemplar
  • Practice self-initiated disruption
  • Exhibit an obsession for continually adding greater value
  • Consistently demonstrate efficiency gains in operations

Each of these pillars represent ongoing processes, not one-time events or special projects. A Leading from Zero mindset informs the organization that effective execution of these processes earns relevance with all stakeholders daily. Failure to re-earn relevance over time opens an organization to suboptimal access to the best resources, weakness relative to competition, and poor economic performance. 

Leading from Zero actions you can take now:

2. Define Cultural Values in Advance of Partnership – In the movie, Ford stressed the importance of a team victory while Shelby was portrayed valuing rugged individualism. These two approaches represent different cultural values.

  1. Identify one resource area to focus upon for developing a differentiation strategy. If you chose the human resource arena, you might begin with developing an employee value proposition which authentically answers the question “why work at this organization”. This is particularly important in the nonprofit and social sectors, where alignment with the mission attracts talent to an organization. With the statement drafted, strategy work may include review of employee development resources, career pathing tools, position descriptions and recruiting practices to assure alignment with the spirit of the value proposition. The goal – Take a first step in the process of differentiating your organization as a resource development exemplar.
  2. Identify one opportunity for self-disruption. Look for candidates by examining processes, products and your stakeholder engagement approach for a candid assessment of elevated exposure to external competitive threats. The goal – Take a first step in the process of proactively identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in processes, products or stakeholder engagement approach.   
  3. Identify one upgrade or enhancement you can offer customers this year. A prerequisite for this action is understanding where beneficiary needs are shifting in order to preemptively address demand. The goal – Take a first step in the process of creating greater value for your beneficiaries by assuring you will meet their future needs.

These actions are a starting point in operationalizing the Leading from Zero paradigm. The benefit to your organization is earning greater relevance from the perspective of your customers, employees and other stakeholders.    

Author: David Coffaro, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Stop Accepting Mediocrity

Dave McKeown

The new year is well under way by now and whether you set resolutions or you didn’t. Whether you’ve stuck to them or not, one thing is almost certainly true. By now, you’re back in the weeds at work fighting the day-to-day emergencies and solving the next crisis that pings on your phone. 

All of which is perfectly normal in our faster-than-fast world but which also affords you the chance to do things differently this year. You see, getting pulled into the weeds tends to bring with it a negative pattern of heroic leadership. 

Your team has a problem; you tell them the answer. Somebody screws up; you fix it. Someone’s not pulling their weight; you take up the slack. All in the name of speed and efficiency.

Don’t get me wrong; those acts of heroism are fodder for the ego. They make you feel wanted, needed, useful, and valuable.

But let’s be honest; being the hero for your team is exhausting. All those diving catches, the extra work, the stress, the burnout. Wouldn’t it be great if they could take some of that off your plate and do it to the same standard you would?

In most cases, they probably want to, but over time you’ve built a sense of learned helplessness within them. Every time you step in to save the day, to refuse to delegate (“’cause you’ll just end up doing it anyway”), to have a difficult conversation with another team member on their behalf, you build a negative mindset for them. 

Specifically, you teach them to believe that you’re there to relieve them of anything that seems too difficult. Over time that mindset solidifies, and the barrier for what they consider to be ‘difficult’ lowers.

Eventually, they develop an automatic behavioral response; an issue comes in, they ask you what they should do, and either you tell them, or worse still you do it for them.

The more you lead through heroism, the deeper their learned helplessness, the more you need to take on until something cracks or breaks. 

You’re caught in a cycle of mediocrity.

When you’re stuck here, it’s hard to break out of the tactical nature of your role and to spend time on what you should be thinking about; the long term direction of your team and the development of your people.

My hope for this year is that more leaders move away from this negative pattern toward a cycle of excellence. Here are three things you can do to make that happen.

1. Adopt a new mantra

The first thing to do is to make the conscious choice to move away from heroic leadership towards excellence. Like all good behavior change, it starts with a new mantra. 

For 2020, I hope you’ll adopt this one:

“My focus is to help those on my team achieve our shared goals and, in doing so, become the best version of themselves.”

There’s no room for heroic leadership in this mindset. Instead, it forces you to consider how your team can grow and develop as they solve their own challenges and overcome their own obstacles.

2. Take the time to push your team for solutions

“What do you think?” is one of the most powerful leadership questions you can ask when someone brings you a challenge. It puts the onus back on the question bringer to think through the answer or solution themselves rather than relying on you.

You’ll likely have some thoughts or perspectives on the issue, and at some point you may need to share those. The longer you can wait for your team members to come to their own conclusions, the better. They’ll end up learning more, feeling better about the decision, and empowered to move to implementation.

3. Back your people to succeed

Finally, you have to act as if your people will succeed. Too many leaders out there put backstops in place to prevent failure like bumpers on a bowling lane. Doing so reduces empowerment and provides limited opportunities for your people to learn.

So treat them as if they have the skillset, experience, and knowledge to put into place what you just agreed and provide support, advice, and guidance along the way to help them do so. Resist the urge to be a ‘helicopter leader,’ constantly hovering over them, ensuring they never fail.

Do these three things and you’ll find your team taking more ownership over their problems and challenges, and you’ll have the headspace to think more creatively and strategically.

Dave McKeown is a coach at ECofOC and the author of The Self-Evolved Leader: Elevate Your Focus and Develop Your People in a World That Refuses to Slow Down due out on January 28th. To learn more about Dave and the book go to selfevolvedleader.com

Author: Dave McKeown, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Ford vs. Ferrari Leadership Lessons

David Coffaro

The hit movie, Ford vs. Ferrari, tells the story of a partnership between famed American performance car designer Carroll Shelby and the Ford Motor Company. This joint venture came about to develop a Ford-branded race car for competition in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and beat Ferrari’s entrants – the race’s perennially winners. The story takes place in the mid-1960s when Ford sought to broaden their appeal and engage Baby Boomers, then in their late teens, with products like the new Mustang.

The plot weaves its way through the failed 1963 acquisition attempt of Ferrari by Ford, which fueled a racing rivalry between the two auto manufacturers. Ford Motor Company is portrayed as a traditional company hampered by bureaucracy; Carroll Shelby as an entrepreneurial, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants innovator. Though the partnership had plenty of ups and downs, the collaboration led to creation of the Ford GT40, which delivered four Le Mans victories from 1966 – 1969.

Notwithstanding dramatic representations of conflict and egos in the storyline, the movie offers some valuable leadership lessons. Here are my top three:

1. Establish Clear Shared Goals Up-front when beginning a new project. Ford wanted to update their brand image to capture market share with Baby Boomers coming of age in the mid-1960s. Boomers wanted cool, sporty cars and Ford executives knew they had to address demand or lose share to competitors. Ford reasoned victories on the racetrack would translate to an uptick in brand perception. Beating Ferrari in races was important, but taking the checkered flag was part of a bigger goal – attracting new customers. Carroll Shelby wanted to build high-performance race cars that won races. He was innovative and pragmatic, seeking the best design and components to win races. The subtle difference between these two goals – winning car buyers vs. winning races – was the source of great frustration in the partnership.

In your work, you may have collaborated on a project with another department in your organization. Their goal was to get the project done with the lowest price tag possible; yours was to deliver the best possible product to your customers. If you didn’t know you had different goals up-front, divergence may have fed dysfunction. Establishing clear, shared goals as a first step in collaboration increases the likelihood of a successful partnership.

2. Define Cultural Values in Advance of Partnership – In the movie, Ford stressed the importance of a team victory while Shelby was portrayed valuing rugged individualism. These two approaches represent different cultural values.

Some organizations design incentives and rewards that encourage competition among colleagues while others tout sentiment like “there is no ‘I’ in team” to inspire working together. By defining your organization’s cultural values around inclusiveness, team vs. individual, winning at any cost vs. mindful success metrics clarifies what you stand for and what is expected. Consistently living clearly defined cultural values attracts like-minded talent to the organization, which reinforces and strengthens the culture.   

3. Don’t Underestimate your Competition – Ferrari executives are portrayed not taking Ford seriously as a competitor at Le Mans. At one point, Enzo Ferrari refers to Ford as an ugly company that builds ugly cars in an ugly factory. Ferrari underestimated Ford’s resolve to be a bona fide competitor.

How many times have you seen this happen? Out of nowhere, a new entrant comes into a business and conventional wisdom said “They’ll never succeed; they don’t know the business like we do”. Category killers, market disruptors or simply new approaches, unencumbered by legacy thinking, transform an industry. The moral to the story, assume the threat is real until you can prove otherwise!

Author: David Coffaro, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Book Review: “The Self-Evolved Leader” by Dave McKeown – Greenleaf Press (2019)

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

I am honored to write a review of this book by my ECofOC coaching colleague Dave McKeown. This is a book on leadership development communicated in a down to earth and no-nonsense manner.

Dave walks one through the steps and sequence of his process. He clearly makes the distinction between  managing and leading. His mantra is a good leader focuses on what is important versus urgency.

Dave makes the case that participating and enabling organization chaos drama is a no win outcome for everybody. The book is laid on in a format that makes one do home work and apply his concepts. He reinforces the notion that leadership is a hard skill. He quotes: “Soft skills make soft leaders!”

He reframes skills into thinking about developing and evolving disciplines. His coaching vignettes are right on the money. Engage this read and you will not be disappointed.

I find the style and approach of Dave to be a hybrid of Simon Sinek and Gary Vaynerchuk. It does not get any better than that!!

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Do You Have A Balanced Board?

Dave Blankenhorn

Do you have one or two members that dominate the meetings and the conversations?

If that is the case it is the job of the Chair or E.D. to bring it back in line and to prevent an imbalance in the first place. A good Chair knows that that no one member can possibly know everything and should emphasize that the Board can only thrive with input from every member.

Even with the best guidance and intentions some Board members may still drown out other opinions. While these members can add to the discussion, they often tend to eliminate other points of view. If this is allowed to continue the Board may lose its balance and engagement.

To deal with these types of members the Chair should not allow them to dominate the meeting by thanking them for their contributions and asking others to offer their opinions on the topic at hand. If this approach doesn’t work perhaps a quiet private meeting is in order to let them know they tend to stifle other member discussions which is not healthy in the long run. If the member does not change his/her behavior you might consider their resignation.

On the flip side of the issue the Chair or E.D. should also meet with quiet or disengaged members. You need to let them know their opinions are valued and needed by the organization.

Another helpful tip for a balanced Board would to have annual discussions on how your meetings are going. What the pros and cons are and what needs to be improved? Talk about the items on the agenda, the time taken on each item and whether all members are involved. This may tie in with the annual director evaluations.

Following these best practices should be very helpful for the organization in achieving its mission.

 

Author: Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Do You Have An Effective Board of Directors?

Dave Blankenhorn

Do you have an effective Board of Directors? Are they providing the kind of direction that is important to fulfill the organization’s mission or do they meet without any meaningful outcome?

One way to find out is to have the Board do an annual self-assessment of themselves or one another. A good self-assessment can lead to improved performance for the Directors and the organization but only if you are intentional about the questions you ask and constructive about the follow up.

To do director self-assessments you can either hire a consultant to help perform them, handle them internally or pursue a blended strategy. Handling them in house maybe the least expensive option but an experienced consultant may save you time, bring impartial outside perspective and help you gather and present results to boost group performance.

If the decision is made to go it alone the Chairman and a few key board members should meet to identify the assessment goals and design the process including questionnaires and interviews. Goals should include producing a report with a SWOT analysis, spotlighting the successes or failures of commitments made by the Board and the overall effectiveness of the Board leadership. The report should also include whether they need to add new board members with specific skill sets, identify training needs, and an evaluation of the meetings and materials. Any other specific issues should also be addressed.

Peer reviews are sometimes part of an assessment and that means anonymous questionnaires. Digital questionnaires can be delivered online and streamline the process.  When completed and compiled the report should then be presented to the Board as a group with specific goals.

 

Author: Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org