Here are two viewpoints on topics that impact the overall effectiveness of leaders in a social benefit culture. This isn’t a debate – it’s a dialogue from the perspectives of two experienced leaders. The goal is to provide different perspectives to stimulate creative thinking and bring leaders into a new paradigm of functioning, not to provide final answers.

Executive Coach, Human Capital Developer

Jeffrey Magee (Ph.D., PDM, CSP, CMC) is the “Thought Leader’s Leader.” He is a columnist, the publisher of Professional Performance 360 Magazine, editor of Performance Execution and Performance Driven Selling blogs, a former nationally-syndicated radio talk show host, published author, and recipient of the USJC TOYA award. A motivational leadership speaker, he is one of the most sought-after keynote speakers in the world.

Musical Conductor, Leadership Coach

Hugh Ballou is a Transformational Leadership Strategist, President of SynerVision International, Inc., and was a musical conductor for 40 years. Hugh has written numerous books on Transformational Leadership and works with leaders of religious organizations, business and nonprofit communities as an executive coach, process facilitator, trainer, and motivational speaker, teaching leaders the fine-tuned skills employed every day by orchestral conductors.

Should We Mandate Board Diversity?

One of the most destructive actions a Board can take is to mandate diversity, merely to be politically correct. Diversity of thought, background, résumé, knowledge, beliefs, and capacity to constructively add value to the organization are important to the survival and thriving ability of any organization; diversity of ethnicity, gender, generation, lifestyle, religion, economics, geography, etc., are valuable variables only if they serve your organization and constituents. My Player Capability Index™ serves to objectively and thoroughly allow a formula approach to vet any person to ensure you don’t become bias blind in dealing with the people you need on your Board or administering your organization.

The leverage point with diversity is to evaluate your human capital needs and ensure that your diversity provides an accelerated advantage in the marketplace! Your Board is far too valuable to be treated as an on-the-job learning experiment for the sake of diversity.

Using the word mandate is very strong, but diversity is essential for preventing Group Think and for minimizing blind spots. We’ve been through periods in history, for example, when women have been blocked from meaningful engagement in our society: voting in public elections, being ordained as clergy, and even joining Rotary Clubs around the world. It took a Supreme Court decision to force Rotary International to admit women to membership in 1987. Now there are over 200,000 women members. It’s now mandated that there is no gender discrimination, however our white male centric language we use at meetings in announcements and prayers are not inclusive.

Rather than a mandate for diversity, it’s far better for the organization to define guiding principles for decisions. A guiding principle could be to look for people who are different from us to allow for better discussions, more creativity, and minimization of blind spots for improved effectiveness and relevance. The symphony orchestra has not only diversity in the sounds of the instruments, it also has different personalities that go with each of the different cultures of the instrument groups, but everyone works together in creating the culture of the ensemble, which is a synergy of higher performance.

Mandates are rules for minimum standards. Principles are guidelines for higher performance.

Should We Mandate that 5% of Revenue Goes into an Endowment Fund for Future Projects?

This is brilliant and should be an institutional SOP (standard operating procedure) of any organization. Every Board should have a budget and ensure they work within that budget. A valuable line item should be benchmarking their immediate operational needs with the organization’s intermediate and long-term needs. This is where most Boards fail.

I remain true to the standard of principles over rules or mandates. Proper planning and budgeting should always provide for future needs. It’s good stewardship to plan ahead with a constantly funded major maintenance account for facility needs. It’s good stewardship to set aside retirement funding. It’s also good stewardship to put aside money for legacy projects and the legacy of the organization by building an endowment fund.

Think of all of the buildings, organizations, and projects with the name Carnegie attached. Andrew Carnegie wanted to give away his fortune in ways that benefitted humankind and didn’t harm people. He was successful.

Not only should the organization set aside money from current cash flow, it should encourage members, volunteers, and other stakeholders to do the same. Effective leadership is modeling what others can do.

Create guiding principles around legacy funding in the strategic plan and incorporate the payments into the budget.

Should We Designate the Engagement of “Green Initiatives” as a Mandate of the Board/Oversight Entity?

This is more public relations oriented than a business reality of value to most organizations and their Boards. It depends upon what the mission statement of the organization is charged with honoring, as to whether green should even be discussed. Being fiscally and appropriately environmentally responsible is common sense and business sense smart, not just green. If going green is about leaning decisions, actions, commitments toward being fashionable, then the Board would be failing at its fiduciary responsibilities. While being green in the big picture into our future is one of a mix of reality variables, it is not the sole answer. Be mindful that green energy as a large-scale initiative can be a financial failure and significantly subsidized by taxpayers’ government underwritten allowances, so this topic is very politically charged.

It’s crucial that tax-exempt organizations stay out of political involvement. We risk alienating some supporters and we might put our tax-exempt status at risk, as well. It’s important for the leadership of any charity to focus on the objectives in the organization’s strategic plan. If we focus on the work planned, then we don’t get off track on side issues which might limit our effectiveness. If green is not our work, then we might not want to get involved with this or other issues. Focus on our objectives to achieve our vision and mission and let individuals decide on issues themselves.

If we are not, however, responsible citizens of our planet and pollute the world so that others don’t have quality of life, then we are practicing bad stewardship. Preserving energy and protecting the environment are cost-saving measures, as well as being socially responsible and not political.

We must focus on principles and build consensus around principles for unity.

This article is reprinted from Issue #8 of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today so that you won’t miss other actionable articles that will help you run your nonprofit organization with less pain and more gain!

Join Hugh Ballou, possibly Russell Dennis, and their guests on our weekly Tuesday afternoon Nonprofit Exchange at 2 pm Eastern time.
If you already have a nonprofit or are thinking of starting one, this will be very helpful. Put it on your calendar NOW! It’s a session that you don’t want to miss! Discover what’s blocking your success!
The Nonprofit Exchange on Tuesdays at 2 pm ET has been quite beneficial for many participants and we have enjoyed sharing thoughts and tips for moving past the stuck places we all find in leading an organization to achieving its mission.
Learn more and access archives HERE.
As the famous British Composer and Conductor Ralph Vaughan Williams once said, “Music does not reveal all of its secrets to just one person.” If you replace the word “Music” with the word “Leadership” or “Team” or “Strategy” etc., then we all give and receive value from others. That’s the spirit of the Tuesday afternoon Nonprofit Exchange encounters, sponsored by SynerVision Leadership Foundation’sCommunity for Community Builders.”

You can join the conversation on Zoom or watch on Facebook Live Video. It’s your choice. You can comment on Facebook and on the Zoom chat box on any device.

Put this on your calendar NOW! It’s a session that you don’t want to miss! Discover what’s blocking your success!

We’ll “see” YOU on the call. Here’s to your greater success!

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