My favorite title ever is that of Speaker. There is no truer description of me. When Carter was little she came home and said I me and Russ, “I need someone to come into school to talk to my teacher.” Russ volunteered and Carter replied, “No, I think Mama should come, she is the better discusser.”

Tonight, I was the “speaker” at a board retreat for a Non-profit where I gave the Governing for Non-profit excellence talk. They are a great organization which makes the board’s job easier, but it also makes them not know what could go wrong. At one point I felt like the voice of doom as I discussed potential things that could go afoul and how to prevent or fend them off.

Learning to be a good board member is hard, but learning to be a good board leader is even tougher. As I think back to some horrible board leaders I have had I feel sad that time was wasted not doing more important work. It is not that people don’t have the right intentions, it is mostly that they just never have been trained. I also have been lucky to have some great board leaders who I learned a lot from. Too bad they don’t get graded so board members can know what they are in for.

Giving this governance talk just barley skims the surface of how to run an effective board. I think I should develop a questionnaire for these boards to measure where they are on basic things like succession plans before my talk and then retest them a year later to see if they have followed through.

I think tonight’s group has high promise. They were engaged and good active listeners. That is the best thing for an active speaker like me! I can talk about board work for a very long time. I might need a life.

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