Annual Meetings – Where the Board Reports to the Owners

541015All board-led organizations are required to have an annual meeting for the purpose of communication between the owners and the board. Quality communication is two-way, with the owners providing input and the board reporting back to the owners. By planning a quality annual meeting boards can exercise the discipline of respecting the owners.

It is at the time of the annual meeting that the members or owners elect the board members for the coming year. If the board members are elected by advance ballot the elected individuals are officially announced at the annual meeting. It is usually at the annual meeting that the owners make changes to the bylaws, constitution, or code which provides direction to the organization. Great boards value and heed these owner decisions.

The other part of two-way communication is the board reporting to the owners. This includes (more…)

Emotional Intelligence

25MH03This summer I have been picking the brains of leaders of diverse board-led organizations. I am gathering their insights regarding the characteristics or behaviors of effective leaders, whether they are board members or managers. The most frequently mentioned factor has been emotional intelligence; in fact I think I have heard more people bring up this skill in the past month than in the past several years.

Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability to identify, assess, and manage one’s own emotions, the emotions of others, and the emotions of groups. Several leadership specialists purport that an organization’s emotional health impacts its bottom line more than does its mental health. Patrick Lencioni suggests that it is now the norm for companies to make smart decisions, yet those with healthy cultures experience notably stronger results. Stephen M.R. Covey states that organizations with high levels of trust can accomplish things with greater speed. Ken Blanchard promotes managing people differently based on their individual competency and confidence with the task at hand. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify people’s emotional reality and relate to them in a manner that respects them, engages them, and inspires them to work effectively for positive results.

Passion Is Essential

woodfireThere was a common thread to many of my business conversations this week – the necessity of leaders having passion for their organization. A sole proprietor shared that he has to reignite his passion for his business before he can lead it into its next growth phase. CEOs expressed concern that some of their board members are not engaged with the organization because they are not passionate about its mission. An Executive Director was excited about prospective new board members who have passion for the non-profit’s cause. A board chair was energized by the enthusiasm which several board members are applying to their role. Can positive emotion really be that valuable?

I am reminded that good sales people watch for the emotional responses of potential buyers. We humans make most of our decisions emotionally. Then we use logical analysis to assure ourselves that our emotional preferences are reasonable. If we aren’t passionate about where we work or volunteer, we begrudge the time investment and don’t achieve desired results.

Leaders Consulting with Followers

Last week I facilitated a strategic planning session for the children’s ministry at our church. This event was a great illustration of the benefits of leaders engaging a larger group of interested people when significant decisions need to be made.

Although we have consistently offered Sunday morning children’s programs since the church was founded in the 1990s, the offerings have been adjusted by various involved volunteers without any documented big picture plan. Recently we have had diverse feedback from parents, asking for things we already offer, expressing needs that we aren’t addressing, and wondering about differences among classes. To serve our members and their children well, it is time for us to develop a strategic plan for children’s ministry.

Although the four members of our children’s ministry team have different backgrounds and expectations, we don’t represent the diversity of our whole congregation. When developing a strategic plan that could shape the direction of our children’s ministry for five years or more, it is critical that we get broad input.

Government Communication with Community Members

An elected member of city council is accountable to the citizens residing in the community. This accountability includes listening to, serving, and communicating with those residents. The city administrator’s job, whether she is elected by the public or hired by the council, has the responsibility to provide services to the same residents. With two parties fulfilling the role of local government whose job is it to communicate with community members? Well, that depends on the matter at hand.

City council has the responsibility to develop policies, local bylaws, or local legislation for the good of the community at large. For councilors to be informed about the needs of the community so they can make decisions that truly serve the public, it is important for them to frequently be in conversation with a diversity of community members. The focus of councilors’ communication with the public is to listen to concerns that impact the city as a whole and to inform the residents on council decisions. Topics to address might include the condition of the parks, the maintenance of the roads, the quality of garbage service, or the realities of city finances.