Bob's Corner — The Keys to Board Succession



October 13, 2022

The leadership asked for a succession plan. “How do we fill the long-vacant seats at our board table?”

It sounded like they were asking for the keys to start a car engine, or possibly a magic potion to solve the problem.

Succession is a process, not an on-off button.

  • Tools – The group did not have a leadership manual. The bylaws were 28-pages, full of policies. They were just beginning to create a strategic plan. Why would volunteers join a board without clean governing documents to guide their responsibilities?
  • Qualifications – They hope to draw the best people for board service. People who share a passion and are accountable. It would be wrong for the nominating committee to say, “You won’t have to do anything when you get on the board.” Vet the candidates, delving into their reasons to serve, resources they bring, and how they would work on a team. Send out a call for volunteers, evaluating resumes and determining ability to contribute time, talent, and treasure.
  • Inspiration – Does the board express a passion for the organization’s cause or mission?   Volunteer leaders are added to advance a strategic plan, not to delegate new work to staff.  

A strong strategic plan (clear, crisp, concise) is a roadmap. Without the plan, volunteers wonder what to expect or encounter mission creep.

Board succession is a process. Establish the tools, qualifications, and vision before pushing the on-button.

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