The social sector may achieve greater impact if it subscribes more deliberately and deeply to the principle of ujima, one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa: collective work and responsibility.  LaPiana Consulting has decades of experience working with nonprofits on meaningful collaboration, and we often begin sessions with this African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Just as effective chief executives support their staff, the board supports the chief executive. But one thing to keep in mind is that the impact of a board’s support may be different from the board’s intent, depending upon how it is offered and received. With variations of leadership styles, personality types, and organizational needs, it is critical for an ongoing conversation between the board and CEO to develop and maintain a shared understanding of what effective support is and isn’t, in the situation then in hand.

Clarifying and communicating expectations at the top is key to accelerating impact through the board’s collective work and responsibility. Role definition helps board members and staff operate within the scope of their own responsibilities, laying the foundation for a trusting, cooperative, and effective relationship.

Success in the board-staff relationship is much more than just each partner “staying in their own lane.” Board members want — and must be — meaningfully engaged. Beyond clarity of roles, board-CEO teams have many tools at their disposal for ensuring effective engagement. Assessments and self-assessments (for the board as a body as well as for individual board members) can help identify strengths and how to best use them to advance the organization’s mission.

Read the full article about the CEO and board member relationships by Makiyah Moody at BoardSource.