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Why Do You Serve on this Board?

“I believe in the mission.”

“I’ll do anything for the kids.”

“I love kids.” (multiple Board members stated this)

“I’m an advocate for children.”

“I want to learn how I can better help children.”

“I want to provide information for families in the community.”

“I just want to help.”

Imagine a nonprofit Board of Directors (Governing Board Members) that provide the above responses when asked the question, “What’s your motivation for serving on this Board?”

What wonderful and heart-warming responses – no one can argue or dispute that these motivations aren’t noble and worthy – surely they are.   There’s only one problem, I’m not sure if these self-proclaimed noble and worthy motivations are enough.

Now, imagine this is a Board that has an expectation of raising money, attending events, and being advocates for the organization.  The vast majority are not fulfilling the minimum expectations.  So what does this really mean about their motivations??

  • I believe in the mission, but not enough to raise money to support it.
  • I’ll do anything for the kids except attend events and serve as a “voice” for the “voiceless”.
  • I just want to help, as long as it’s in my comfort zone.
  • I want to learn how I can better help children, as long as helping them doesn’t include work on my behalf.

Of course I’m being facetious because I, nor you, can speak to another person’s motivation.  I believe they care and I believe they’re concerned.   I can only observe their actions, and that causes me to question their commitment.  So my advice to this and all the other imaginary Boards that may have this challenge is simply this, “Your displayed actions speak louder than your proclaimed motivations.”  Board service requires more than talking the talk – we have to walk the walk.  Here’s a truism regarding “real” Board service:  Some care enough to talk about it, some are concerned enough to think about it, but few are committed enough to do it.  We need you to do it.  Why do you serve on this Board????




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Vision, Mission, Values: Are They Really That Important???

“You must have a 30 second elevator speech.”

“Your people must know WHY they do what they do.”

“We need clarity and direction to really move forward.”

“Our purpose must be communicated and owned by the entire team.”

“Every organization needs a road map, some direction.”

“It’s not just what we do, it’s why we do it.”.

“What noble worthy cause are we here to serve.”.

These are just a few of the statements I’ve heard and read (and to be honest, I’ve said) over the years from leaders and managers from every sector.

All of these statements were part of some conversation related to vision, mission, and values, or some variation thereof.

I’ve always assumed that vision, mission, and values must be important because there’s so much literature and dialogue dedicated to them.  And after all, they’re on the wall of almost every nonprofit, small business, corporation and government agency you walk in.  Now I’m questioning this assumption because of something that has happened repeatedly over the years, as recent as yesterday.

I find myself standing before a group, a team, a tribe, a board, a leader, or a follower and I’ll ask a series of questions:

Question 1: Got a Vision Statement?

Answer: “Yes”

Question 2: What is it?

Answer: “Not sure” or  “I don’t know” or “I think it’s something like __________” or “It’s on the website”

Question 3: Got a Mission Statement?

Answer: “Yes”

Question 4: What is it?

Answer: “Not Sure” or  “I don’t” or “I think it’s something like_________” or “It’s on the website”

Question 5: Have any organizational or corporate values?

Answer: “Yes”

Question 6: What are they?

Answer: “Not sure” or “I don’t know” or “I think they’re something like ________” or “They’re on the website”

For some reason these answers are troubling to me. I don’t expect everyone to know the vision, mission, and values verbatim, but I would hope they would know the “essence” of them.  So here are a few questions I’m now considering:

1. Have we over-stated the importance of vision, mission, and values statements?

2. What does it mean, if anything, if key people don’t know the vision, mission, and values?

3. Do people need to “know” the vision, mission, and values in order to fulfill their roles, responsibilities and expectations?

4. Does presenting & viewing vision, mission, and values as “statements” create any challenges?

I have other questions, but I’m starting here.  Do me a favor, share your feedback regarding the questions above.  Any answers or insights are greatly appreciated, because I want to know if Vision, Mission and Values are Really That Important.




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Obstacle or Danger???

A healthy dose of perspective & insight  can help successful, high-performing leaders with their decision-making.  The ability to “see things for what they are” is a good thing.  The ability to “see things for what they are not” is even better.

There will be times during your leadership journey when you will face obstacles that will challenge you.  Overcoming these obstacles will prove to be moments of growth and create confidence for facing even greater obstacles in the future.

There will also be times during your leadership journey when you will face danger that needs to be avoided.  There will be warnings (sometimes subtle) like signs on the side of the highway to help you avoid dangerous situations and predicaments. When dealing with danger, the goal is not to overcome it, the goal is to prevent and/or avoid it.

Some leaders confuse obstacles & challenges with warnings of danger; resulting in their team and organizations being placed in a perilous situation because they didn’t know the difference between the two.

Perspective and insight will help the Teachable leader discern the difference between an obstacle to be overcome and a danger to be avoided.

In our next post we’ll begin to explore how to tell the difference between an obstacle and danger.  Have you had any obstacle vs. danger confusion along your leadership journey?? – Please share.

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