Written By: Michele
In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins created a memorable image of a business being a bus with its CEO as the driver. Nothing is more important, according to Collins, than “getting the right people on the bus” if you want to take a company from good to great.
Applying Collins’ thinking to the nonprofit realm means getting the right staff on the bus as well as the right people to serve on the organization’s board of directors. After all, it would be hard to deny that having board members who are well-connected community leaders, passionate about the mission, and willing to leverage their relationships on behalf of that mission greatly increases a nonprofit’s effectiveness and capacity.
Most nonprofit leaders are fully aware that their organization can’t rise above the strength and commitment of its board of directors. Yet they find it difficult to find the caliber of board members they know they need to take their organization to the next level. So they compromise. In order to fill a board seat, they often bargain with candidates by assuring them that board service:
“won’t take much time” or “it’s ok if you don’t want to fund raise”
Every time they settle for less, they miss an opportunity to fill the seats on their “board bus” with the right people.
According to Collins, the process of getting the right people on the bus must be rigorous. That means, if a nonprofit leader wants to take their organization from good to great, it will take an investment of time and discipline. Don’t settle just to fill a vacancy. Agree to make it OK to let a seat go unfilled until you have found the right person to fill it. Remember you are the driver of the bus, and the people you have on your bus can hold you back or they can help you achieve great things.