Looking in the Mirror

A number of years ago I had the privilege of writing a weekly column for The News Tribune here in Tacoma, Washington. I loved doing it and will always be grateful to David Zeeck, President/Publisher, for giving me that opportunity.

It’s time to renew that weekly tradition of putting down thoughts on all things nonprofits. I’m so very fortunate to be able to continue working the sector, especially because I have the privilege of getting to know many dedicated people who care about their communities. And I have a special appreciation for those who sit on nonprofit boards.

So, check in every first and third Tuesday morning (I would never go up against the incredible Vu Le!). You’ll find observations, suggestions, and criticisms each week – all encapsulated in 300 words or so. You’ll moan with recognition, giggle at the foibles of human nature, and hopefully learn a little along the way.

As a little teaser, let me tell you about a common experience. Most of the time when I begin a project with a board of directors, I start with an assessment of their governance practices. The assessment tool I’ve developed has two parts – how the board is doing collectively and how the respondent is doing her/himself.

The level of candor is usually high in the first part. The answers usually reflect a relatively accurate assessment of the positives and negatives of the board’s work. But, once they turn to the assessment of their own performance, all accuracy flies out the window. Invariably every board member rates themselves highly. In fact, in an recent assessment one person ranked the board’s performance as low as possible on all aspects of their work. Her self assessment? Top of the scale on all aspects.

What does this tell us? Clearly there must be some unnamed gremlins causing the problems because neither she nor any of the other board members are ‘fessing up to anything. What’s the moral of this story? Take an honest look at your performance as a board member, and commit to learning how to do it better.

See you soon. If you want an email reminder of the column’s posting, just send me an email to let me know: liz@soundnonprofits.com.

© Elizabeth M. Heath 2017