The chief executive and board chair have distinctly different roles, but they must work together to create a strong, professional partnership. When each person executes their respective roles effectively, it produces a strong dynamic that ensures the organization will thrive. But both individuals need to be committed to building a relationship that is designed to last.

Parallel Leadership Isn’t Enough

It is easy for the board chair and chief executive to follow a parallel approach to governance, but this method lacks what the organization needs to move forward. This cohesive partnership is the most important relationship in supporting the overall structure of the nonprofit. When this relationship is strong, it transforms the group and results in great strides in meeting goals and achieving initiatives.

3 Principles of a Strong Partnership

Here are three critical principles that will develop a strong partnership between the chief executive and board chair:

  1. Mutual trust, respect, and support for the other person and the relationship
  2. Two-way communication
  3. Being mission driven and working together on a shared purpose

The organizational mission is the common ground upon which the partners can build their relationship. Each person needs to be both respected and heard, with solid communication as a priority for success.

Governance vs. Management

Often, problems between the board chair and chief executive occur because of confusion over responsibilities. Who holds the responsibility to complete which tasks? Conversations about mutual expectations can help to clear the air. These conversations should include definitions of responsibilities, an outline of expectations, and identification of tasks that can benefit from shared responsibility.

Shared responsibility is common regarding resource development and fundraising. These details need to be outlined into an organizational plan, so both partners know how each person contributes to the shared tasks. Because the individuals will change over time, emphasis should be placed on the roles of both people, not the personalities of the individuals.

Not only do these discussions need to occur, but it is important that the agreed-upon points are recorded in written form for future reference if needed.

Support for Your Nonprofit

Training and support can be essential to help your nonprofit overcome common organizational challenges. If you are looking for expert advice built upon more than four decades of experience, then Mirenda & Associates is the firm to call. Contact our experienced team today to schedule a no-obligation consultation.