March 28, 2009

What’s a rogue?

I’m not talking about Johnny Depp’s roguish pirate. I’m not talking about the lovable rogue in movies.

I’m talking about a rogue elephant. Uncontrollable. Raging through the fields (or the board room), mowing down everything in its path.

You know what I mean. You’ve seen a rogue and the decimation he or she leaves behind.

In any board – regardless of size or type – there may be a rogue individual. Perhaps you’ve got a rogue board chair like Massachusetts Keith or Rhode Island Ralph. (Check out my previous blog about rogue board chairs.)

Maybe lots of people on your board caught the rogue virus. You feel like you’re caught in a stampede of rogue elephants.

So what does rogue look like? Well…Intruding in management and micromanaging. Ignoring boundaries and limitations of board authority. Disregarding meeting guidelines. Dominating conversation and drowning out the voices of others. Demanding your own way. Not holding yourself and others (and the board itself!) accountable. Cronyism.

This is not good. In fact, this is bad. Really bad. And the worse it gets – well, that’s a rogue; that’s rogue behavior.

How do you get rid of the rogues or disempower them? Find compatriots. Build a group to fight the rogues. Talk over them. Talk around them. Talk louder than them. Set rules and enforce them.

Rogues are not self-aware (or don’t care). Rogues need to be stopped by others. Rogues need to be censured, released, SHOT!

Someday, I’ll write a book about it.

P.S. Who is responsible for building an effective board? The staff, especially the executive director / CEO. Yes, indeed. Board members aren’t really accountable for this work because they don’t know the body of knowledge. Staff is supposed to – required to – know the body of knowledge. The executive director / CEO enables the board to do good governance – or not! See the concept of enabling in my book Strategic Fund Development.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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