The more effort nonprofit leaders put into supporting their boards, the happier they are with the board’s performance—but few leaders spend enough hours working with trustees to make a difference.
That insight comes from a report called The Board Paradox, by CompassPoint and the Meyer Foundation, where I work. It’s the last in a series of three briefs that report on a national study of more than 3,000 nonprofit executive directors.
The online survey for Daring to Lead asked executives a series of questions about their boards. We asked about their relationships with their board chairs, how much time they spent working with and supporting
their boards, and whether they were getting help from board members in key management areas.
To supplement this survey data, 70 executive directors participated in focus groups in San Francisco and Washington, DC. In all five focus groups, executives spent much of the time discussing their relationships
with—and in many cases their frustration with—their boards.
In analyzing this information and putting together the brief, two things stood out.
First, many executive directors don’t spend all that much time working with their boards.
Second, executives who spend more time on their boards are more satisfied with their boards’ performance.
Taken together, these two findings suggest that many executives may be under-supporting their boards—and suffering the consequences.
To get more out of their boards, executives need to invest more time.
I recognize that this is a tough sell for overextended executives. But our evidence suggests that it pays off.