Well, did you do it?

Lunching with a great colleague this week, it dawned us that we both respond well to external deadlines. We’re so bent on meeting client needs, that deadlines we set for ourselves sometimes go by the wayside.

We all do this, and nonprofit board members are no different. As we respond to the challenge…or opportunity…of the moment, we let long term goals slide. At board meetings we deal with immediate issues while our strategic plans languish with 10 minutes at the end.

The cycle continues. Each year we make plans, often repeating last years’: recruit new board members, seek best practices in hiring, expand our reach, or whatever we have identified as crucial to our growth. Yet 5 months into the year, it’s still just a plan.

I solved the problem with an accountability partner…someone who regularly asks me what I’ve done that week to further my goals. Then I commit to specific steps toward my goals, so she can ask me again.

sticky note remindersMaybe the board needs an external accountability partner. A coach. A guide. A nudge. Someone to regularly check in with the president and the executive, help them keep board meetings focused on long term and strategic issues, and help them figure out ways to do it better. Someone to guide them through the hazard of rehashing decisions that have already been made.  Perhaps a coach to help them figure out how to make sure that committee and staff work are done by committees and staff, while the board spends its valuable time focusing on mission.

Think about your own life. Making a commitment to someone else has a way of focusing our attention. Maybe we should use the same approach for our boards.

If this is an intriguing idea, contact me. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts, and help you think through whether your organization might benefit from a coach.