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Nonprofit Board Competencies vs. Skills

How to Recruit for Nonprofit Board Competencies – Not Skills

The first thing many nonprofits think of when looking to recruit new board members is “what skills on the board are we lacking, e.g., lawyer, CPA?” However, what leaders should really be thinking about is what competencies do we need on our board. Ask yourself what would be the ideal board competencies we should have on our board and compare this list to the current competencies on the board. The gap should be your priority for recruiting new members. Before exploring the ideal nonprofit board competencies, you should want, understand the key differences between competencies and skills.

Defining Board Competencies vs. Skills

An ideal board member has both excellent competencies and skills. However, competencies are way more important when it comes to the board recruitment process. This is because skills can be taught, whereas competencies are unique to an individual. Skills are learned abilities that are often needed to complete a job. Competencies are the knowledge and behavior that allow a person to be successful in their role.

Best Leadership Competencies for Board Members

  1. Visionary Thinker
  2. Entrepreneurial Spirit
  3. Relationship Builder
  4. Emotional Intelligence
  5. Brand Builder
  6. Collaborator
  7. Inspirational Motivator

1. Visionary Thinker

Today’s leaders need to be visionary thinkers, which goes beyond having grand ideas. It includes the ability to communicate those ideas in an effective way. Leaders should have the competency to inspire their team to believe in the nonprofit’s mission. Further, leaders need to provide ongoing motivation and a clear path to success.

2. Entrepreneurial Spirit

Having an entrepreneurial spirit is imperative to being a transformational leader. Leadership today is no longer only about revenue and expenses but involves creativity and change. It’s important to have a mindset that embraces change and sees it as improvement rather than a setback to overcome. Having an entrepreneurial spirit means the leader will ask the right questions to ensure the organization’s success.

3. Relationship Builder

Any leader needs to be a great relationship builder, both internally and externally. It’s important to build connections within the organization so that people feel valued. This will help to strengthen their bond and motivation to the mission. Similarly, leaders need to network outside of the nonprofit to attract key stakeholders, donors, volunteers, and other leaders.

4. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a crucial competency for leaders. Those that can understand and manage their own and others’ emotions make better leaders. By doing so, there can be open communication and an ability to adapt to change. EQ also allows for more effective collaboration between executive team members and their boards.

5. Brand Builder

Building a positive brand is crucial in today’s world. Often, the Chief Executive Officer is the face of the organization, meaning they are responsible for communicating the organization’s achievements and results. A positive brand, in turn, can help increase stock prices.

6. Collaborator

The ability to work collaboratively is key to running a successful nonprofit. In the past, it was admired when one leader controlled many programs. Today, the opposite is true. Those who are willing to engage in discussion and eager to collaborate with other organizations prove to be far more successful.

7. Inspirational Motivator

Leaders need to be inspirational. They should be able to motivate their staff, board, donors, and key stakeholders. Remember, an organization’s success is often dependent on having a shared passion and engagement towards the common mission.

Tips for Recruiting Competent Board Members

When searching for your next CEO, make sure to identify the above competencies in each of your prospective candidates. Further, a nonprofit’s Chief Executive Officer should best match the organization’s strategic needs, culture, and core values. If your nonprofit is unsure how to find the best candidates, seek professional help.

How DCM Helps Nonprofits During Executive Searches

DCM Associates helps nonprofits perform executive searches and find their next CEO. We can help your organization define its core values, engage stakeholders, and build a positive brand identity—before you start a search process. Once those crucial guidelines are established, form a search committee and reach out to DCM Associates. We’re ready to help!

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Dennis C. Miller