Thursday, May 19, 2011

What Do the Best Boards Believe?

What do the best boards of directors have in common? What common beliefs might they share? I was thinking of this as I read 12 Things Good Bosses Believe by Bob Sutton. He lists the following as key beliefs "that are held by the best bosses — and rejected, or more often simply never even thought about, by the worst bosses." 

  1. I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.
  2. My success — and that of my people — depends largely on being the master of obvious and mundane things, not on magical, obscure, or breakthrough ideas or methods. 
  3. Having ambitious and well-defined goals is important, but it is useless to think about them much. My job is to focus on the small wins that enable my people to make a little progress every day. 
  4. One of the most important, and most difficult, parts of my job is to strike the delicate balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough. 
  5. My job is to serve as a human shield, to protect my people from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe — and to avoid imposing my own idiocy on them as well. 
  6. I strive to be confident enough to convince people that I am in charge, but humble enough to realize that I am often going to be wrong.
  7. I aim to fight as if I am right, and listen as if I am wrong — and to teach my people to do the same thing.
  8. One of the best tests of my leadership — and my organization — is "what happens after people make a mistake?"
  9. Innovation is crucial to every team and organization. So my job is to encourage my people to generate and test all kinds of new ideas. But it is also my job to help them kill off all the bad ideas we generate, and most of the good ideas, too. 
  10. Bad is stronger than good. It is more important to eliminate the negative than to accentuate the positive.
  11. How I do things is as important as what I do. 
  12. Because I wield power over others, I am at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk — and not realizing it.

Which beliefs do the best boards embrace?

Think about what makes for a great board, then look over the above list and ask yourself, "Which of these twelve beliefs are most likely to be embraced by the best boards?"   I contend items # 8, 10 and 12 deserve to be at the top of the list because the best boards:
  • Are able to respond, in a mature, non-scapegoating fashion, when mistakes occur.
  • Realize their ability to do bad is greater than their ability to do good.
  • Are cognizant of how much power they wield and realize, accordingly, that might doesn't make for right decisions.
What do you think?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Fun Survey about Mission Statements

Today, this consultant will make a startling confession: I often wonder if Mission Statements are really worth the effort. Do they make a difference? Does anyone really care?

There, I said it! What do you think? Let's have a little fun at the expense of the Mission Statement with the following survey. Enjoy!

When was the last time someone actually invoked your Mission Statement?

Which best describes you feelings about Mission Statements?

What will do the next time you are asked to help write a Mission Statement?

For more insights and wisdom on this topic, check out the article: Mission statements: Lofty inspiration, or contrived claptrap?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Could a Five-Minute Interaction with Members Boost Staff Productivity?

An intriguing question, eh? It came to mind after reading, Putting a Face to a Name: The Art of Motivating Employees

The article discusses a study involving paid employees at a call center for a public university; their duties included phoning potential donors to the school. As the authors note, "Employees...suffer frequent rejections from people unhappy about getting calls during dinner. Turnover is high and morale is often low. So how do you motivate workers to stay on the phone and bring in the donations? One relatively easy answer: Introduce them to someone who is aided by those dollars."

The study arranged for a five-minute session, where the employees could meet and interact with scholarship students who were the recipients of the school's fundraising efforts. The results were impressive: employees who had interacted with the scholarship students brought in vastly more money: a weekly average of $503.22, up from $185.94.

And this raises the question: should associations use a similar tactic? What if your association arranged, on a regular basis, for every employee to have a five-minute interaction, in-person or by phone, with a member who has benefited in a significant way from their membership (i.e., a member who has a positive and powerful story to tell)

What might be the pay-off in terms of morale and productivity?