Building Your Board and Volunteer Networks

Building Your Board and Volunteer Networks

“All of you are in leadership and have people entrusted to your care. …The role of the leader is a very high calling. “

~ The Servant, A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership by  James C. Hunt

Some boards are wildly effective, work well together and continually push themselves and their schools toward the next level of excellence. Others may range from occasionally helpful to downright disruptive. The same is true for all leadership bodies. Why so much variety?

Maybe your leadership groups are not meeting your school’s needs because their role, scope and authority have never been defined. This will not only diminish their impact and lead to frustration, but also make strategic recruitment of new members impossible. Take the time to clarify the leadership needs you have. Think not of how it is now, but the preferred vision of a highly-functional team that is devoted to and passionate about helping your students and school succeed. It is absolutely worth the time and effort.

The Operational Vitality domain of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, Standard 11 specifically addresses “… clarity for responsibilities, expectations and accountability.” See for more information about NSBECESS.

Use this list for a quick check on the health of your board or volunteer leadership group:

  • Clear Mandate
  • Specific Goals and Objectives to Meet Current Challenges
  • Membership Committed to Mandate and Appropriate to Tasks/Roles
  • Viable Committee Structure
  • Cultivation of Future Leadership
  • Excellent Communication and Work Ethic
  • Strong Board/Volunteer/Staff Relationships
  • Written Expectations

With a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities, you can identify and enlist those with essential skills and qualifications.  A competency matrix that cross references existing members with the skills required will reveal the qualification gaps that must be filled.  With that in mind, you can target the best prospects and be able to invite them compellingly to share their talents, as they will truly be meeting a need, not just filling a seat.

Ongoing formation including an annual retreat is essential and will allow you to re-engage the enthusiasm each volunteer member brought when joining; further educate about the charism that guides the school; focus on the big picture and their role in it, and invite each member to recall with reverence not just who we are, but whose we are. A retreat is a perfect time to take stock and set goals; to look at where the school is, where it is going and how it will get there.

Check out our recent Catholic School Management Letter here and read more about the best way to channel your volunteer leadership for maximum impact. Call CSM at 203.421.5169 to see how we can help you develop your talent pool and direct their energies so that your school and leadership all benefit.

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