By Melissa Cordish
Center for Community Engagement & Leadership
The selection, training and transition of Board leadership are deeply rooted in our Jewish tradition. A common theme throughout the Tanach (Bible) is the challenge of finding, sustaining and replacing good leaders.
In the Book of Exodus, G-d decides that it’s time to move the Children of Israel in a new direction. G-d selects Moses to lead His major change initiative. However, Moses doesn’t consider himself worthy of the position (“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should take the Children of Israel out of Egypt.” Exod. 3: 11). Second, he fears that the people will not accept him as a legitimate leader (“…But they will not believe me and they will not heed my voice, for they will say, ‘G-d did not appear to you.’” Exod. 4; 1). And third, he feels that he does not have the leadership skills necessary for the role (“…I am not a man of words…for I am heavy of mouth and heavy of speech.” Exod. 4: 10).
The concerns with which Moses struggles are common fears that incoming board members or committee chairs may share. The nomination and selection process can be exciting and rewarding to those that are looking forward to taking on a leadership position, but others can be hesitant or uncertain of the challenges it may bring.
To best meet the needs of the organization and its volunteer leaders, certain steps should be instituted:
- A nominating committee should be developed to bring on new board members and determine who will fill vacant offices each year. Professional and volunteer leaders or executive committee should discuss and determine goals and timelines, and they should appoint a nominating chair.
- The nominating committee should identify the needs of the organization in partnership with an assessment of current and potential board members.
An effective governance structure, which engages its leaders in meaningful work for the organization, is a critical part of the strategy to guarantee that there are knowledgeable and committed people in the pipeline for the top leadership position. However, every leader brings different skills and talents to the job. Therefore, succession planning requires foresight, to ensure that the right person is in the right leadership position at the right time.
The ASSOCIATED’s Center for Community Engagement and Leadership has created an online tool to help with your nomination and selection process.
By Leaders from THE ASSOCIATED’s Center for Community Engagement & Leadership (CCEL)
Everyone talks about the importance of feedback. But what does the term really mean? Why is it useful and how do we create a culture of feedback?
Leaders are constantly striving to create an environment where every volunteer has a meaningful experience, and is given the tools necessary for success. THE ASSOCIATED has been working to make sure we are truly achieving that goal.
This year, CCEL’s Forum invited top lay and professional leaders to a three-part series with the goal of creating a culture of dialogue and feedback, one where we can help each other to be more effective leaders. The forum was facilitated by leadership development coach Ellen Kagen Waghelstein and was a tremendous success.
The take-away? Three tips for incorporating feedback into your work as a leader.
As you are offering feedback to others, do a check on your true intent and motivation. You are ready to give feedback if your heart is open and you are focused on their success, not your opportunity to express anger and frustration. Commit to:
- Letting go of the past
- Telling the truth
- Being supportive and helpful-not cynical or negative
- Making sure you are focused on improvement rather than judging
Each of us has an Achilles heel, the thing that is a blind spot to us and can get in the way of our being our best leadership self. Seeking feedback that opens your eyes to those blind spots is a gift. Feedback of this sort is not finding out what people think of you or how they feel about you or even what they like or dislike about you. There is really one fundamental question: How can I do what I do better? Listen carefully and take the feedback seriously. And continue to seek it.
Create a Feedback Culture
The best way to begin a process of culture change is to become a role model yourself. If people see that as leaders you ask for feedback regularly and are open to their feedback, without repercussions, people will begin to open up and share their thoughts honestly and thoughtfully. As you move forward in this process, be aware of the times when you have received feedback that opened your eyes to a blind spot and helped you be a better, more effective leader. Share those experiences and draw out the experiences of others. This will provide an opportunity to bring the issue to the table and encourage new behavior from everyone.