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Staying In Your Lane

When a vehicle weaves in and out of its lane on a busy highway, there are several outcomes. The weaving vehicle may make passengers in that vehicle and all occupants of other vehicles extremely nervous. As a result, other vehicles speed up or slow down to get away from the weaving vehicle or take the next exit to avoid the weaving vehicle. Accidents may occur resulting in significant damage to the weaver’s vehicle and other vehicles, injuries to the weaving driver or others, and the death of the weaving driver or others. This stimulus-response theory example occurs in the workplace when people, teams, units, and departments do not stay in their lane.

As a seasoned CEO, Board Member, and Board Development Trainer, I am a believer that the most important relationship in the non-profit organization is between the Board and CEO. When the Board and CEO, along with the rest of the team, stay in their lane and respects the other’s lane, the likelihood of being an effective, efficient and progressive organization increases significantly.

There is often much confusion regarding the role of the Board and CEO. Each party has three main general responsibilities. The Board’s role is to Adopt Vision & Goals, Adopt Policy, and Evaluate Outcomes. The role of the CEO and rest of the team is to Develop Plans & Regulations, Implement Operations, and Evaluate Progress.

Too often Board’s engage in the micromanaging or daily operations of the organization. This occurs when the Board has a knowledge or execution deficit of the contrasts between the Board’s role of evaluating outcomes and the CEO’s role of evaluating progress.

For example, earlier automobiles were built from beginning to end in one automotive plant. Specific team members were responsible for evaluating the building progress for each vehicle and usually one employee had the authority to stop the automotive assembly line if there was a problem. In the non-profit world, these tasks should be carried out by the CEO and their team. Others had the responsibility of evaluating the car when it “rolled” off the automotive assembly line and out of the plant (outcome). In the non-profit world, this is the Board’s role.

When the Board steps inside of the plant (organization) and begins planning, implementing, evaluating and changing the car (daily operations) while it is being built, the Board is not staying in its lane. The CEO and team is out of its lane by serving in more than a research capacity related to the handling of “Board” business.

These knowledge and execution deficits, by either party in a Board-CEO relationship, can have catastrophic results or at best prevent the non-profit organization from being the most effective and efficient functioning non-profit organization.

Boards and CEO’s should receive roles and responsibilities training together. Each party must speak to and exhibit an all-in commitment to the proper execution of this relationship. This execution and commitment will result in a highly positive functional relationship that leads to organizational effectiveness, efficiency, and progress.

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