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.