Imagine being hired for the most important job in an organization with no training, no standard operating procedures and not knowing who your team is and how they support you. Unfortunately, every year there will be chief elected officers all across the world who don’t know their job or ask halfway through their term if there is even a strategic plan.
In previous articles, we talked about board orientation and the importance of ensuring that officers and directors are cohesive. They must be aligned around the mission and strategic plan of the organization, while supporting staff to execute.
Chief elected officers are where the “buck” stops, therefore they need to be the most informed and prepared officer of the nonprofit corporation. There are four knowledge areas that are critical to their success:
People — The formula for success in any organization is for a symbiotic relationship between both staff and the volunteer leadership. Once this harmony is established, there is then only one team dedicated to advancing the mission and vision of the organization. Know your team, make sure they are trained and assess performance on a regular basis.
Communications — The emphasis on a healthy environment where communication is expected and respected by staff and volunteers is tantamount to a healthy and productive relationship. Also, managing the message of the organization and tying it in with the mission statement is key. As the chief elected officer, listening first before speaking shows respect to your team and allows you to weigh all options in a discussion as well as communicate a unified message to the members and public.
Planning — As a volunteer leader taking on the role as the chief elected ofﬁcer, planning should begin long before your term. Goal setting, the importance of the ﬁrst board meeting, identifying quick successes and avoiding common mistakes will make for a productive and successful ﬁrst year in ofﬁce. Also, using the strategic plan as a guide will provide the best road-map.
Global view — As the chief elected officer, being informed and knowing the environment both within your profession and industry along with the competitive landscape is critical. Know your organization better than anyone else, and use that information to help guide board decisions that are in alignment with the strategic plan and its fiscal resources.
There is not one incoming chief elected officer who says, “I plan to fail this year” or “I plan not to be prepared.” No matter what type of organization you are leading, you need good people to help you succeed. As a leader, you need them to follow without asking.
Your year as the chief elected officer should be one that is enjoyable, advances the organization’s mission and prepares your successor for continued success. Now, make the resolution to have a successful 2015.
By William D. Pawlucy, CEO Options, to read the article in original form, click here.