If Recruitment is a Priority, Put the Right People on the Job
We are pleased to present this guest post from Jeff Wahlstrom, managing director of Starboard Leadership Consulting. He has more than 30 years of hands-on experience as a nonprofit leader, board member, and consultant to an extensive list of clients, large and small, throughout Maine. For more on this topic, learn about MANP’s full strategic board recruitment toolkit.
I can’t say it any more clearly and directly than this: if you want to recruit top-notch board members, you need to recruit or assign your very best people to the task. If changing the board culture and increasing board effectiveness is important to you, then getting the right people to take on this job should be important, too.
Look around the board table. Who best represents the kind of board leadership you hope to see in the future? Who is it that is looking to the future and not to the past? Who is it that might share your vision for an active and engaged board? Who might be a future board chair? You are looking for someone who can tackle this work with energy and won’t let “this is how we did it last year” stand in the way of adopting new strategies.
Too often the nominating process is placed in the hands of the long-time board members, a past president, or even former board members. In my opinion, board recruitment efforts should be led by current board members only and, ideally, those invested in the future. If you want to stay stuck where you’ve been, past board members can certainly keep you there.
I’m familiar with one board where recruitment had been left in the hands of one board member for almost eight years. Everyone was afraid to offend her by taking a more active role in recruitment or by reassigning her to another committee. As a result, the profile of those recruited tended to look a lot like the profile of the recruiter, and creating change in the board culture and structure was all the more difficult.
So, if you don’t have the right committee chair or members in place now, find a way to change things up. Be creative. Find another role for those folks and recruit the leadership you need. It is highly unlikely that anyone will be offended, and they may even feel relieved.
Invest time and energy in building the recruitment team that can advance your organization and strengthen the board. Successful recruitment can transform the board and change the organization. Put the right people on the job.