Chairman/CEO Partnership

Yes, I said partnership in the title.  At the end of the day, if you don’t have a partnership with your chief volunteer, you’re not in a good place.  Not for you and not for the organization.

We all know that the board, led by the Chairman, sets the policy and direction of your chamber, but it is the CEO that implements that policy with his or her staff.

The strength of the relationship between the Chairman and CEO will have a direct impact on the success of the chamber and its program of work.  You must have open and regular communication with your board Chairman.

And then there’s – Trust!

Without it you will have no partnership.  You must both come from a place where you trust each other.  You both need to be accountable for the work of the chamber and its success!

The CEO gets a new Chairman every year.  And each year that can bring new challenges and opportunities in the relationship between the two.

The Chairman and CEO should always stay focused on the two being aligned, focused and share the same vision for the Chamber.

For resources on the Chairman/CEO partnerships go HERE.

Elements of Good Governance

I was recently reading the 2020 ASAE’s Board Brief and was fascinated by the chapter on governance and the research done by their Foundation on the subject matter.

The data’s interesting and they broke it down into the following areas:

Policies and Procedures – make sure your manuals are well documented and followed.

Structure and Function – what is the size of your board and is it working as well as how man board meetings are you conducting a year?

Diversity Goals – do you have a plan and are you tracking your progress?

Self-assessment – are you surveying your board members and asking how they feel about their participation and effectiveness?

Performance Evaluation – do you have a formal reporting mechanism to your board or membership of the results?

Goal Setting – do you set goals (think scorecards) as a way of tracking your goals?

Preparation and Training – are you conducting that board orientation for new board members outlining their responsibilities: Duty of Care, Loyalty and Obedience (which I’ve written about before and can be found HERE)?  And are you giving outside training on how to read a nonprofit’s financial statements?

For the original source for the article go HERE.

Foresight vs Strategic Planning

I’ve read a lot about this recently and I think I’ve finally put my head around the difference.

ASAE has a website dedicated to the subject matter and it is a term that has surfaced, at least in my association management reading, in the last 5 plus years.

For me, in a nutshell, foresight is an exercise in trying to identify what the future will look like for your organization.

Many chambers are doing the 2025 or 2030 scenarios with interesting results.  In other words, think what could it be?

Strategic Planning is the process of analyzing the current landscape, through and environmental scan, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, and determining a set of goals, strategies and tactics, usually 1-3 or 3-5 years out, on achieving those goals.

Most of us are just trying to get through the day with the limited resources we have but I would suggest that if you spent the time, with a facilitated board retreat, you too would benefit of looking to the future.

I’m sure by now you’ve all read the ACCE’s Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025?  Well that’s just around the corner.  It’s time to do the 2050 exercise.

For more information on the Foresight work by ASAE go HERE.

Are Your Emails Really Member-focused?

I recently attended a webinar led by Bill Graham, Graham Corporate Communications and Institute for Organization Management faculty member.

He started with the concept that you need to focus on what your members are worried about and connect your email to their world.

Bill always reminds his audiences that communication is not speaking or sending emails, those are activities.  "Communication is a result; it's what you get into their head."  “Think of communication as a one-way street. Nobody has to listen.”

He went on to talk about specifics as it relates to the subject line, introduction, body and the close of your email.

Subject line: It’s the penthouse of the email real estate, the most valuable, so find a unique perspective that engages the receiver.

Introduction: Your first words matter because they see them on your phone, so be personable, respectful, friendly and helpful.  Focus on them not you.

Body: Focus like a trusted advisor, not like a salesperson.  You are taking up their time.  It should be worth their time, not worth your time.

Close: With a “Call to Action” - if they got to the end, they want an action step, so ask them to: attend a meeting, make a decision, attend a conference call, etc.

He also gave us some general email rules to follow:

  • More is seldom more;
  • Positives turn on, negatives turn off;
  • Simple is memorable, complex is forgettable;
  • Avoid cliches, they always sound like autopilot; and
  • Be personable and comfortably friendly...at a respectful distance.

Some general tips throughout his presentation that he gave that I had to write down because I think they are repeatable:

  • Before you speak...WAIT - ask yourself: "Why Am I Talking!
  • Change your pronouns to: you/your, or even: they/their.  Using first person pronouns: I/my/we/our, is talking about your world, not their world.
  • Are you a trusted advisor?

The final bullet, in my opinion, was his main message - “are you a trusted advisor?”

Bill suggests you’re a trusted advisor if you:

  • Engage with your members;
  • Ask questions and listen to your members;
  • Are interested in your member’s needs; and
  • You focus on long-term relationships...not short-term gains.

In closing, and focusing on the suggestions from Bill Graham and the title of this blog post, your emails should focus on the following:

  • Subject Line - engage the receiver.
  • Introduction - focus on them…they see the first few words.
  • Body - be a trusted advisor and focus on their world, their results: reasons, motives and goals.
  • Close - end the email with a “Call to Action.”

If it’s not about their world...it’s likely not communicated...it’s just NOISE.

Be a trusted advisor and keep your emails member-focused!

Good Board Governance - Part II

Now let’s have a discussion about the difference and importance of both indemnification and director and officers insurance.

Indemnification - most if not all organizations indemnify their board of directors for any financial liability for serving on the board.  The indemnification clause usually is stated in the bylaws.

It also goes without saying that the board member will be indemnified as long as he or she did not do anything illegal or acted in bad faith.

Check your bylaws to see if your chamber board members are indemnified.

Director and Officers Insurance - most know this as D&O insurance which protects your board members from any lawsuits concerning legal activities.  And it is common knowledge that these claims and lawsuits are generally employee based.

And as stated in The Perfect Board book on page 80, these types of claims or lawsuits can be wrongful termination, sexual harassment, copyright/trademark infringements to name a few.

The bottom line, make sure you have the indemnification clause in your bylaws and you are providing (any paying) for D&O insurance.

For a legal resource go HERE.

Good Board Governance

In my opinion, and in the opinion of many, the fundamentals of good board governance starts with duty of care, duty of loyalty and duty of obedience that each member of your board must understand.

For a quick review:

Duty of Care - as a board member it is imperative that you do your homework on the board materials prior to the meeting so you can fully participate in the discussion and make informed decisions.

Duty of Loyalty - as a board member you must take your business hat off and put the hat of the organization on and do what’s best for the organization, not your business.

Duty of Obedience - as a board member you must stay true to the mission of the organization and not get involved in things that are not part of your articles of incorporation  or bylaws.

Speaking of bylaws, that is the governing document that your board and members must follow.

The other legal aspects of a board and their governance process that must be followed are the adherence of a quorum for each meeting, a process to conduct those meetings, and the creation of minutes of the meeting to reflect the boards intent in setting policy for the organization.  And by the way, the handling and storage of those minutes.

Quorum - as stated in your bylaws, but usually it is a majority of the total number of board members (i.e., if you have a board of 21, then 11 would make a quorum.  If you don’t have a quorum, you can’t do business as a board and you must cancel the meeting.

Roberts Rules of Order - it’s important to have order when conducting board meetings to stay focused on point and your agenda.  Most boards use the Roberts Rules of Order in conducting their meetings.

Minutes - the official recording of the meeting which should start with the date, time and location of the meeting.  Remember, it is not necessary to capture every word that is spoken during the meeting.  It is important to identify who is in attendance and who is not.  Report on the discussion of a particular agenda item and any action (vote) that took place.  And by the way, those minutes need to be kept indefinitely since they are an official document of your organization.

If the above items are not understood by every board member, it is imperative that you conduct regular board orientations to remind your directors of their role and responsibilities.  I would have something in writing that they can take home that they can use as a reminder during their board tenure.

A fully informed board of directors of their role and responsibilities are critical to the success of your organization.

Review your orientation documents today!

For resources on good board governance go HERE.

The Trim Tab Concept in Leadership

There have been many articles written over the years, on the “trim tab” affect in leadership, and how it can transform your organization.

Peter Senge talks about it in his book The Fifth Discipline but it is widely known that Buckminster Fuller coined the term, when it relates to leadership, many years before.

As written in Wikipedia, “Trim tabs are small surfaces connected to the trailing edge of a larger control surface on a boat or aircraft, used to control the trim of the controls, i.e. to counteract hydro- or aerodynamic forces and stabilise the boat or aircraft in a particular desired attitude without the need for the operator to constantly apply a control force. This is done by adjusting the angle of the tab relative to the larger surface.”

The bottom line, and my translation, small well focused actions you take can make a big difference in your chambers.

Think about an entire ship being moved by 1% of its mass.  The small trim tab on a ship can make it turn completely in the opposite direction while maintaining a stable environment.

Or said another way, change can be implemented by small step/s.

For more information on the trim tabs metaphor in leadership go to the Buckminster Fuller Institute HERE or HERE.