Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Board Less Founder

I continue using the work of Carter McNamara to help guide me as a leader.  This is especially true when it comes to Board governance.  The following in its fullest can be seen at: McNamara 

One of the challenges we have in Africa is the lack of understanding concerning the purpose of a Board.  We all know the frustration of watching a founder or CEO have a conflict with his/her board and then fire them.  Of course this is unethical and illegal, but it happens all the time.  A real board assumes responsibility for the ministry at the broadest levels.  The Founder, CEO, Executive Director is to be submitted to the board.  This means that the board has the moral right to fire the leader if needed.  It is not supposed to happen the other way around.  This also means that the Founder, CEO, Executive Director, Leader, cannot be the Chairman of the Board as this presents him/her with a conflict of interest.  But do not listen to me, hear with McNamara says..

An email said:

My organization is 2nd in my life only to my family.  I also feel responsible for the integrity of the organization and for protecting it from changes that would endanger that integrity.  This organization works to create programs that bridge educational gaps between and about indigenous cultures.  A lot of what we do is very sensitive and, if mismanaged, could do more harm than good.
The idea of hiring the wrong person for the job of ED when the time comes is terrifying to me.  However, the idea of giving up my position on the Board is even MORE terrifying.  Having been involved with other organizations that … became oligarchies full of power-struggles and politics [and having] watched those organizations sacrifice the quality and purpose of their programs because the politics became more important or because someone “found a shortcut, cheaper method, etc.,” that placed “efficiency” over quality.


You sound like any mama protecting its cub, and we would expect no less of someone who cared enough to begin the process/organization in the first place.
The answer to your specific question, right now — where you can maintain the direction and focus of your organization, and still derive compensation from the process — is to help your board become the “mature” group that will assume the governance role and help ensure funding, while you resign your board seat and become the ED (only).


I agree that someone being the top of the Board AND a paid staff member could create a conflict of interest.


Not “could.”  It is a conflict !!
If you can create a board that will do what’s needed, and continue to support your vision, you can give up your board role and become a paid employee.
It sounds like you’d benefit from conversation with a consultant who specializes in helping NPOs with needs like yours – look around, wherever you’re located, there are likely to be folks with the expertise you need.

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