Thanks to my colleagues at the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits for the following review of a little-examined topic: how to keep your Board from meddling where it’s not wanted or helpful. Betsy Harman raised the question on ACN’s members-only listserv but was kind enough to permit me to share the answers here. Intriguing that the most useful source turned out not to be from the nonprofit sector at all.
I have found some excellent resources from Board Source about the role of
the board but they focus on what board members should do. I am seeking a
couple of resources that spell out what things are not part of the board’s
role. For a project I am working on, I need some quotes from a well
established, trusted source that discusses why board members should not
micro-manage and second guess staff. If you know of a good book or article
on the things board members do that hurt rather than help organizations, it
would be most appreciated.
A few days later, she checked in with the results:
Michael Leonard pointed me to a source with just the authoritative quote I
needed. . . .
The Board Book: Making Your Corporate Board a Strategic Force in Your
Company’s Success, by Susan F. Schultz (AMACOM 2001), pp. 8-10, 20-22 – This
book is geared to for profit sector but has a great deal of material that is
relevant. Chapter 9 on the value-add role of directors lists 23
characteristics, duties and responsiblities of good directors. One is:
"Don’t Micromanage: Distinguish between policy and operations and respect
that difference. Don’t second guess management, even if it is an area in
which you have specific expertise. The temptation is to solve problems.
Instead, assess management decisions against the strategic plan." The
Board Book, page 158
Ten Critical Mistakes to Avoid
Failure to recruit strategically
Too many insiders
Too many consultants
Too much family
Too many cronies
Getting the money wrong
Fear of diversity
What is Stopping CEOs (from having strategic boards)?
Perceived threat to independence
Focus on tactics
Makes extra work
Resistance to change