February 4, 2019

A Team of Relationships, What Lincoln Teaches About Successful Boards

man and woman looking at a laptopOne of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book’s Team of Rivals explores how Lincoln selected and worked with a cabinet composed, among others, of three gifted competitors for the presidency. You, like Lincoln, seek to build a team. Only in your case, you don’t gather rivals. To form your board, you organize gifted individuals to form a team of relationships.

In her book, Goodwin writes about the meetings Lincoln had with his cabinet collectively and individually. You already hold regular board meetings. Do you also, like Lincoln, meet separately with your members?

In an example I share in my forthcoming book, Let’s Raise Millions Together, Kelley Parris, Executive Director for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, discusses her practice of meeting individually with board members every month. One mentoring client, a new CEO, set about with some trepidation meeting with each of her members. She discovered personal fans with a huge commitment to help her reach her goals. This quarter, another client’s embarking on a similar process to find out what each member loves to do.

Whatever schedule you use now to meet individually with your board members, I recommend you increase it in 2019. If you never meet individually with your members, meet with all of them this quarter. If you meet with them once a year, double this in 2019, and so on. Besides constructing better relationships, one-on-one meetings pave the way for you to grasp individual priorities, polish your thinking, and obtain enthusiastic backing for your proposals. Moreover, this practice will give you insight on how to lead your board to make 2019 your best year ever.

Read more about Karen’s mentoring program here.

For more answers, check out the  Nonprofit CEO Library.

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Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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