Leaders In Waiting

on in Fundraising

In a well-run company, leadership development on staff is nurtured, planned, designed.

Why not on boards?

Why do we so often manage board member behavior by default, hoping we have the good fortune of “landing” the next leader through happy accident?

Just like great staff leaders are built through cross-training, shadowing, and education, great board leaders learn by watching the best and by having the chance to spread their wings, little by little, in positions of greater authority and breadth.

By planned growth, in other words. 


There’s something about a voluntary assignment that leads otherwise thoughtful individuals to assume that things will just take care of themselves. That somehow the magic of “we’re all here to do good” will lead the right people to take the right positions at the right time.


The right people – if they are, indeed, at the table – will, most often, sit on their hands hoping that someone else will rise to the occasion, so they don’t have to put in the effort they know it will take.

But most often the next generation of leaders is not at the table, because they haven’t been groomed. We set someone to chairing a committee, or taking an officer position, and we heave a sigh of relief and move on to the next challenge.

As opposed to placing someone in the position…and immediately starting to think about who can be brought up next to learn the business as the heir apparent.

On your board – who’s your next treasurer? Your next fundraising committee chair, nominating committee chair, president?

If you can’t answer those key questions, and you’re not taking conscious steps to prepare board members to take on those responsibilities, you’d better be actively recruiting so you have those folks waiting in the wings.

A great board leadership team is not an accident – it’s the result of a series of decisions along the way, preparatory steps to make sure the right people are ready to step up as an opening occurs.

Think ahead…

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