Six more criteria for your board matrix

Beyond the crazy quilt of attributes and expertise you may need in your board, I’ve listed six more criteria for your board matrix. I would call these competencies; you might see them as qualities of leadership.

I find many boards hunger for these to move their governance forward. My suggestion is to keep these in mind as you recruit (and check references). Some folks arrive already equipped with some or all of these. But everyone can use training and a strong reinforcing culture to be able to practice these qualities.

1. Mission and Values Lens: The ability to consider issues with an eye toward achieving the vision or mission and upholding organizational values.

2. Strategic Thinking: The ability to deliberate and act intelligently to reach desired goals by engaging a systems perspective; testing hypotheses; learning from the past; seeking out and using data; creatively approaching opportunities, problems and solutions; understanding the organizational implications of situations and events;, seeing connections or patterns not obvious to others and generating new insights.

3. Spanning/Connecting: The ability to identify and develop relationships, to build alliances and networks and to influence the contribution of talents and resources in support of the board. In particular, candidates who have and will use their connections in the following areas to leverage resources identified as essential to our organizational success: [list areas]

4. Accountable: To accept responsibility for actions, decisions, policies. To honor obligations to our “owners”, our funders and other stakeholders, to be transparent and to accurately report, explain, & accept responsibility for consequences of actions.

5. Institutional Memory-keepers: Curious about and eager to learn the history,culture, programs, processes and procedures of the organization. Willingness to observe the bylaws and board-approved policies and procedures.

6. Learners: The desire to understand and to improve performance based on experience. A desire to set aside time for reflection, seek out data and expertise, identify knowledge gaps, learn from experience, be curious, scan the environment for new information, disseminate what has been learned, and integrate learning so it is broadly available and can be generalized to new situations.

Related articles:

Courage and discipline for board members

Who’s on your nonprofit board: Partners, passengers, prisoners, protestors?

Throw away your old board recruitment matrix


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