Non-Profit Board Direction | Moving the Ship Forward

Illustration of a pirate ship

May 22

One of the best aspects of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, as would be echoed by most people, is the character depth and acting prowess that Johnny Depp brings to the main character, Captain Jack Sparrow. Particularly, the way they portray him as a leader without a following. Was he ever really a leader? How does one define leadership? To see his entrance in the first movie riding a small sailboat on the top of the mast as it sinks into the bay is incredible, especially with his reverence for his position with his posture and attitude.

His dream; his life’s goal, however was not to sail around the islands in a one person sailboat. His was to Captain a true sea-worthy vessel with a full crew. Only this would allow him the opportunities to pillage and plunder to his heart’s content. Yet, as mentioned before, his leadership skills seemed to be lacking as proved by his inability to keep a crew and move the ship forward.

Advice on Board Direction from the Experts

Bonita-Springs-Area-Chamber-of-Commerce-LogoBoard Management recently interviewed the President and CEO of Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, Christine Ross. Christine serves as the lead staff person at the chamber, reporting to the 24-member board of directors. She had some keen insight on leadership of large crews (hers was specifically relating to board management) that can shed some light on the wayward path of Jack Sparrow.

According to Christine, “Strong leadership at the board chair level is critical to the organization and collegiality of the board activities. Through strong board governance orientation and written guidelines, the board members know their roles and act accordingly. If anyone strays, other board members are quick to bring them back in line.”

During the scene that Jack Sparrow was stuck in jail and happened to be spotted by members of his former crew, it became evident that he did not lead his ship with a conviction and vision that motivated, inspired and coalesced the members of the crew. Thus, his ship was not ultimately being successful or moving forward, per se. It is important for board members and their chair to perform as a team, because the vision of an organization is a collaborative effort, one that depends on trust among team members. Board members must rely on each other and their leadership openly and without reservation.

There is a great article from the University of Kansas that discusses the challenges of leadership. One of the sections goes into the need to “create mechanisms to revisit your vision”. While this approach is a golden piece of advice, their explanation of that advice leaves a lot on the table. Here is their response:

“Hold occasional meetings and at-least-yearly retreats to discuss vision and renew commitment. These will serve both to review the vision to see if it still resonates (and to rework it if necessary), and to renew your and others’ purpose and pursuit of it. They’ll help to remind you of why you’re doing this in the first place, give you an opportunity to work on group solidarity, and – ideally – leave you feeling refreshed and ready to carry on.”

The Challenge of Top-Notch Board Direction

The question is how to manage all those mechanisms. Occasional meetings? Check – that is a normal and universal part of every board across the country. Leadership Retreats? Also commonplace. To the leader, however, these events alone can be one of the largest causes of stress and lead to failure of the non-profit in and of itself. Why? Because dealing with the organizing of the events, managing of information and scheduling of time are just a few of the many vital functions the board chair must manage successfully for everything to work properly.

Imagine if Captain Jack Sparrow could have had better communication and organization skills. Would he have lost the Black Pearl? Probably. He had a whole host of other issues besides organization and vision communication; selling his soul in servitude to Davy Jones was just the beginning. Thankfully, this piece of web software was not built for a pirate, but for real leaders of real boards. Offering solid and clear board direction can be a very difficult challenge, but one that Board Management simplifies.boar_img_getting-things-done-book

Take a look at any article discussing tips for getting one’s self organized. They always include tips like: logging thoughts into a journal, keeping a clear and up-to-date calendar, having a place for everything and keeping everything in its place. David Allen, well known author of Getting Things Done, proposes a workflow solution that keeps everything in one, easily reachable, manageable space.

Board Direction Made Easy

Board Management offers each user the opportunity to house all necessary information for any board situation all in one, easy-to-use convenient place. It is a web-based tool. One person from an organization registers, sets up an account, and then invites others. Once in the system; all members will have access to an array of tools designed by people on Boards of all kinds, to help more get accomplished, more get organized, and more get done.


Regardless of organizational skill, getting a board moving forward carries a multitude of challenges along with it. Leadership is put into a complete crucible when it comes to leading a non-profit board. Board direction and success requires time, energy, passion, and organizational skill, along with a host more. Board Management offers an easy solution to the organization and management of time, files, discussions, members, tasks and processes and will take about five minutes to learn. Take a look today and see for yourself!

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