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NFP -> FP Board Leadership Development: Is Your City or State Responsible?

Just got my life back!

Was summoned for jury duty this week.  Thankfully, panel #647 in Hamilton County was called off today – booyah!

This allowed me the tremendous opportunity to recreate my schedule for the week.  So today, part of that was having a chat with a non profit thought leader locally about one of my favorite topics–non profit board and leadership development.

We had a delightful conversation – but I asked a question that I’ve been thinking about for a long time, which is this:  Are there any cities or organizations anywhere in the U.S. training non profit board directors to convert into FOR PROFIT board directors?

The non profit thought leader had not really thought about this before.  I argued that really good leadership development–development that really and truly promotes diversity and inclusion–should be offering those who step up into NFP board roles training on how to convert to FOR PROFIT board roles.

Good leadership is good leadership–in a for profit, in a non profit, on a boat, with a goat.  Besides, my students don’t really think of NFP/FP as so black and white anymore.  Companies in their minds can make some money AND do good things–it’s not an either-or proposition to them.

A few years ago, I had to go all the way to NYC to get training from Boardology on how to serve on a for-profit board.  The host company, Boardroom Bound, had nothing but women and minorities at this training program.  While I loved it, and while I’m still serving on a few non profit boards, I’m not to my goal of serving on a for-profit company board yet (particularly, Amazon).  While I’m ultimately responsible for my own life, service, and career options–and most of all, going after what I really want, could my city/county/state help me with this?

I don’t know.  But I think the areas of the country that get the NFP->FP board conversion rates improved will be miles ahead of others in the future.  FP boards are one of the last bastions of the good ol’ boys’ club–let’s keep it real here. Furthermore, there are a lot of people on for profit boards now that are on multiple boards–like 6-8 boards.  How are they doing this realistically with a day job on top?

Instead, why not really focus on board diversity with women and minorities who already rock NFP board director work?  It would engage the city, companies (for and not for profit) and everyone wins with more, not less diversity throughout a community – not just in one sector.  The counter argument could be here, I suppose, that NFPs might be robbed of their best and brightest – but I seriously doubt it.  It just makes all of us concentrate on what is really important to each of us, and in the end, true leaders are going to stay with organizations they care about–for profit, non profit, or something in between (yes, there are companies that do good and make some money – but I’ll spare you from that info today.)

What do you think?  Any cities out there doing this already?

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